Racing’s constitutional court handed down its verdict on the Emperor’s Palace Ready To Run Gallops on Friday afternoon, and while they were split in their choices of the outstanding performers on the day, they were universally at one on the depth and the quality of what they saw.
The novel thing about these gallops is that by the time this story is printed, every racing fan will have his opportunity to make his own private judgement, as the gallops may be accessed by visiting the TBA (www.tba.co.za) or the Summerhill websites (www.summerhill.co.za) and you’d do well to remember that several of the sale’s star performers over the years have escaped the attention of a panel even of this stature. That’s the way it must be, as the judges are restricted to a choice of three colts and three fillies each, and racehorses are no different to children inasmuch they’re a work-in-progress at this stage of their lives. In a catalogue numbering more than 200, there are bound to be any number of jewels whose potential is only likely to emerge further down the road. And who’s to say, when the difference between two gallops is as little as a hair’s breadth, that the “chosen one” wasn’t simply the beneficiary of a slightly better ride, or was mentally that bit more ready for the occasion?
What was certainly evident in the number of people that pitched up at Summerhill on Friday, is that this sale continues to enjoy unprecedented popularity, and quite clearly, the new record stake of R2.5million for the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup, (equal to the J&B Met in prize money) has obviously got the “juices” going.
While it is so that all five of the Ready To Run Cup winners thus far have emerged from the Summerhill gallops, there were some favourable remarks from Geoff Woodruff and Sharon Patterson about those that did their stuff at Turffontein on Wednesday, including special mention of a Rock Of Gibraltar filly (Lot 161) and a pair of Teofilos (Lots 13 & 90), while Nico Kristiotis observed that the gap between the performances of the Summerhill horses and those of other consignors had narrowed appreciably this year.
The obvious favourities were Summerhill’s Tale Of The Cat colt (Lot 157), their Fastnet Rock lad (Lot 188) and Chevely Stud’s Jet Master colt (Lot 31), while Lots 47,120 & 199 pricked the judges’ imaginations among the fillies. Summerhill will be especially gratified at the broad appeal enjoyed by the first crop of A.P.Arrow, which seemed to have especially athletic frames and the actions that have made the A.P.Indy strain famous. If you can crack one stallion in a season as a studmaster, you can consider yourself lucky, but it seems they may have another “talker” this year in Admire Main. Like the panel, Glen Kotzen made a point of singling out the Admire Mains, while Shadai Corporation’s Yusuke Tsukahara felt they were typical of the Sunday Silence tribe in general.
Given the enormous international success of the likes of Deep Impact, Hat Trick, Stay Gold and Dance In The Dark in recent seasons, this is just about the best news for those who believe in the value of the international outcross, and the benefits of diversity in the success of nations.
It’s now part of the conventional wisdom of the sale that “there’s a horse for everyone at the Ready To Run”, and there may be a perception that the judges’ choices are more likely to be at the top end of the sale, and therefore have an element of elitism to them. While they might not be entirely true, Graeme Hawkins has especially offered another few “value” picks to his list, which will be mounted on the Summerhill blog site by the time this goes to print (see Hawkeye’s Hopes).
Finally, talking of judges’ panels, the one that chooses the candidates for the R2.5 million Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup, has a growing headache. Before last weekend, they already had an unprecedented 42 winners from last year’s sale, and their dilemma was heightened this week by the first-time victory of Killua Castle (who had to be sold in absentia last year, after undergoing colic surgery during the sale), while Waka Waka (a second timer) and Noble Star trotted up for Gary Alexander and Dean Kannemeyer at Turffontein and Durbanville respectively. Good luck, boys!