Wow, what a weekend and what a week of historical moments we’ve had!
Across the world, in the home of the Thoroughbred – Keeneland, in Kentucky, American Pharaoh captured even more hearts as he carried the dreams of so many horse lovers and galloped his way into the history books. Following on his Triple Crown win (the first in 37 years) in June, he put up an unrelenting gallop on Saturday to win the Breeder’s Cup Classic and take the Racing Grand Slam. His retirement to Coolmore’s Ashford Farm on Monday, was met with fanfare fit for the King he is, as he was escorted by State Patrol and the media from Keenelend to Ashford farm, just over 17 km’s away.
Great horses, like AP, are what we all aspire to and their stories and characters are what bring more people to love racing. At the end of the day, Horse Racing is about the horse. Each one of us is an individual, and the quirks and nuances of each personality is what makes racing as exciting and as challenging as it is. This game is not for the timid or faint of heart, it’s about grit and determination and being able to overcome the bad and keep aiming for the good.
A.P’s owners, the Zayat’s and trainer Bob Baffert have had a spectacular ride with this horse of a lifetime, and have been generous in allowing his fans access to get up close and personal and letting him become part of the global horse consciousness and a living legend.
Locally, the Emperor’s Palace Charity Mile and Ready to Run Cups were held at Turffontein, headlining the feature races for the day. The CTS Ready to Run Cup was won by Champagne Haze for the Gary Alexander yard and owners. Champagne Haze is a son of Kahal and half- brother to local fan favourite Pierre Jourdan. There was certainly a lot of Champagne flowing for the owners after that win of R1.25 Million.
Pierre Jourdan was bought for a mere R65, 000 and went on to win around R3.5 Million and won a host of races, including the Charity Mile.
It was like a railway station here this past week- a scopey young filly- Angel On A Mission –by Philanthropist out of a mare Band of Angels, who was previously trained by Joe Soma Racing arrived after the CTS Ready To Run Sale along with Island View half- brother to Final Score who was owned and raced by Imagine Racing. It definitely seems that trainers gravitate towards families that they know as I hear both the Imagine Racing and Soma Team made bee-lines for these two. The same can be said for me; Imagine Racing and Joe Soma were keen to train me after my half brother, The Blue Streak, was in the yard. He has since crossed international waters and now races in Mauritius.
The Ready to Run Cup 2016 will be contested by eligible, qualified runners from the sale on the 20th of October. A number of the sales graduates have arrived at the yard and I look forward to working side by side with them; Exciting times ahead for us two-year olds!
On Tuesday, on the opposite side of the world, Michelle Payne made history by becoming the first woman jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. In “The Race that stops a nation” she rode Prince of Penzance to win for trainer Darren Weir. Making the win extra-special and keeping it in the family, her brother Stevie was strapper and handler for the horse. In a family of ten siblings this might not be such a big deal, except for the fact that Stevie has Down’s syndrome and was determined to show his merit in his chosen role.
There is a lot to be said for Wining Women. One of which, Hayley Turner, will be here at Turffontein from the UK to ride in the International Jockey’s Challenge on the 14th of November. Hayley is due to retire this Saturday from race riding and won her final race at Southwell on Tuesday, showing that she is still on top form, so look out Gavin, Anton and the SA Jockeys team!
Here at home, the yard is busy with all the new arrivals and getting ready for the Highveld Summer season, which culminates with the Sansui Summer Cup on Saturday the 31st of October. In what is becoming a highlight on the Jozi social calendar, I hear that Summer Cup Day is always fun to attend and show-cases some great racing and top horses, definitely not to be missed! The Soma yard is no stranger to winning the Sansui Summer Cup, in 2012 Wagner cruised to victory under S’mang Khumalo.
I have my owners and visitors coming on Friday, so watch this space for updated pics – I am The Lotsky!