In the year of Igugu, we still drove all the way to the Vaal for the Emperors Palace Ready To Run draw. Mike de Kock had three in the field; Checcetti, Checkeche and Igugu, and they drew 13, 14 and 15; some line-up, some draw! In those days, we participated in the draw, and as everyone knows, you don’t want to get on the wrong side of de Kock. Sadly, it was my misfortune to draw each of his runners, and on the way home, I got the call. “With friends like you, who needs enemies?!”
So we’ve steered clear ever since, not because of the call, of course, because it was all in the right spirit, but because we don’t want to put the mockers on anybody. This morning, we were lucky to be part of the gallery in the studio, and Nico Kritsiotis and the Tellytrack team gave us a masterclass in professionalism. Kritsiotis was born for this game; his deep sense of history, his lifelong belonging and his abiding knowledge and intuition make him one of the world’s best presenters, and he has a knack for turning the mundane into theatre.
That there was an audience out there was obvious; the phones never stopped ringing with the pulling of each number, and there were moans, groans and ecstasy from every corner of the country. Our great mate (and sponsor), Bob Yearham of Emperors Palace, showed us again why he is what he is (never left a stone unturned), and Caroline Simpson’s 23 years at the Ready To Run came with a refreshing revelation of what the connections of the runners were feeling.
Sean Tarry and Gary Alexander will both be delighted with the draws of the fancied Tinchy Stryder and Waka Waka, George Barker and Tyrone Zackey will be in cartwheel mode with Agadez in the 8 slot, while Charles Laird and Mike de Kock got mixed bags inside and out. Roy Magner’s relief (after enormous anxiety among his clients) at Cookie Monster’s inclusion, will have turned to consternation with hole 13, though Louis Goosen will be unconcerned at Negev’s 14 spot, as he says Pierre Strydom wants her clear of the scramble. We know he’s hellish bullish, and he’s instilled Shaheen Shaw with the same infection, though how the Tellytrack stalwart will react to that draw over 1400 metres on Saturday, is anybody’s guess. The Devachanders, great supporters of both Summerhill and the game, will be over the moon at Killua Castle’s inclusion (there’ve been whispers about this one all week), though they would’ve liked to have had Ilha da Rock in the field for the sake of their partner, Satch Mathen. Miraculously, Killua Castle goes to Turffontein for racing’s second biggest prize following touch-and-go abdominal surgery during last year’s sale. We thought Sunil and Ashnee (Devachander) were looking for a shrink when they insisted we put him through the ring in absentia, because they wanted him qualified for this year’s race!