It has been appropriately labelled a landmark in innovation in the thoroughbred sales scene in the last quarter of a century. The Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup is the next step up the ladder for the smart money that bought those calculated lottery tickets.
Win, lose or maybe even dramatically draw, the 2012 vintage have done the stake of R2,5 million proud and a great race is in prospect.
The idea may have grown roots in the hallowed emerald paddocks and wood-panelled boardroom of South Africa’s champion racehorse breeders, Summerhill Stud. But it has caught on like a wildfire and been embraced as a concept that, well simply, works.
The quality of the sixteen-strong field proves it. And it is probably fitting too that the stake of R2,5 million is the highest of its kind for this kind of race anywhere in the world.
Split evenly between the sexes, the unique nature of the concept means that any of a number of the lightly raced runners could improve dramatically.
The Port Elizabeth visitor Tealion will no doubt receive a warm round of applause when he canters to the start. He is the solitary genuine male out- of- towner and one of only four two-time winners in the race.
James Goodman’s seemingly optimistic entrant London Olympics is the KZN visiting hope amongst the fillies. Trainers Mike De Kock and Sean Tarry won’t mind us regarding them as national powerhouses for the purpose of this exercise!
Likely to start at double figure odds, Hekkie Strydom’s son of Stronghold, Tealion, embraces the equality spirit of the concept and whatever his chances realistically, he has a ticket from the 10 draw and could surprise.
Tealion is a versatile powerful galloping gelding who has won from 1000m to 1600m and ran a cracking third behind the talented Sedge in the Racing Association Stakes at his penultimate start. His last effort was less impressive against older horses in handicap company, though.
Charles Laird’s Indaba My Children is an Australian-bred son of Tale Of The Cat and is the highest rated and most well tried horse in the field. He has unfortunately pulled the worst draw at 18 but has streaks of excellent formand has earned his rating of 90.
The debut winner ran an excellent second to the very fast Twitter in the Listed Godolphin Barb at his second start and has run a few in and out races since.He ran Gr1 Tsogo Sun Medallion winner Potent Power to a short head at his third start, and then showed courage and character when winning a Juvenile Plate over 1400m at Greyville over 1400m.
Indaba My Children’s experience will count greatly here.
Weiho Marwing’s Rock Of Arts is another to pull a shocking draw. But top jockey Felix Coetzee will balance that drawback to some degree. Rock Of Arts won on debut and has been consistent since with a smart second to the very capable Gitiano in an MR 72 Handicap over the Turffontein 1450m at his last start.
Geoff Woodruff’s Killua Castle is a beautifully bred son of Churchill Downs, who won on debut and then went down narrowly when flying at his second start on the Vaal Sand in a lowly merit rated handicap against his elders. That was really quite impressive and the run had the hallmark of heart and fitness about it that may stamp him as a likely winner here.
Tyrone Zackey’s Agadez made a terrific debut on July day in a 1900m winner’s race. He tore through late from an impossible position to finish third to Gray’s Champ on the big afternoon.
He then came out three months later and shed his maiden on the Vaal turf over 1400m. Grant Van Niekerk partners him and he looks a major contender.
Gary Alexander’s Waka Waka has drawn 2 and the son of Solskjaer won impressively second time out. He could be anything and will be a popular choice amongst the once-a-year punters with his catchy name.
Sean Tarry’s unbeaten Tinchy Stryder looks the best of the fillies.
The daughter of Mullins Bay carries the blue and red silks that win these big races, and has won two in a row after a smart debut on 25 September. She showed a powerful burst to get up last time and beat Blueridge Mountain in very soft going. She had Negev 4,25 lengths behind her there when receiving 2 kgs from the Goosen runner. Level weights will bring them closer together here.
The omnipresent Mike De Kock has two runners, and they are automatic considerations in these big races.
Lonsome Dove has not run since winning her debut over 1000m at the end of April. The daughter of Trippi was scheduled to run in the Alan Robertson but was withdrawn after being cast in her box. She has been something of a boom filly and Delpech partners her. She is drawn 15 though.
Derreck David rides her stablemate Emaliyami, who won impressively at her second outing, but then lost a shoe in running and ran dismally in a race that she would have been expected to win. If we ignore her run in that lowly MR 69 Handicap over a mile at Scottsville two months ago, then she warrants inclusion.
Louis Goosen sends out a coupling of Negev and the very fast Flying Foo.
While neither have cracked a draw, Negev, a strong daughter of Stronghold, is a course and distance winner and the booking of Piere Strydom suggests that she is the stable elect.
We have already suggested that she will get much closer to Tinchy Stryder at the weight turnaround of their last run, and she was gaining rapidly there. Strydom will enhance that talent further. (See the Louw Flyer column for more on her.)
Flying Foo is a typically speedy Lake Coniston filly who will probably have the gate speed to fly early and try and overcome her barrier gate. She has not shown that she has the puff to keep going in the final 400m of this race.
A tough contest with a handsome prize that will ensure that everybody has an early night on Friday.
We are going with Killua Castle to beat the fillies Tinchy Stryder and Negev, with indaba My Children in the thick of things.
But it may be a field leg in the Pick 6 and Jackpots, to be on the safe side!