Highlights of the 2010-2011 season
With the 2010-2011 season having ended on Sunday, it is a good time to look back at the season’s highlights.
One of the season’s main stories was the increasing success enjoyed by Captain Al’s progeny. The stallion enjoyed a memorable day when his daughters filled the first four places in the G3 Diana Stakes, where Townsend beat Play Nice, Possible Dream and Tick Tock . Whilst the form of this race was not outstanding, it was still a spectacular feat for a sire to have the first four in a graded race.
Last season’s Equus Champion Older Mare, Mother Russia, made her return to the track in the G2 Victory Moon Stakes. Conceding chunks of weight to the eventual winner, Perana, Mother Russia was not disgraced in second. The winner ran out an impressive victor of the 1800 event, (despite all but stopping and ducking sharply in the running) but failed to build on this. He was eventually gelded. In contrast, Mother Russia went onto bigger and better things later in the season.
South African breds continued to do well overseas. In November, the Rathmor Stud bred Gypsy’s Warning landed her first US G1, when she won the prestigious Matriarch Stakes (defeating amongst others dual classic winner Special Duty). A daughter of Mogok, Gypsy’s Warning has now won G1 races at 2,3 and 4.
Champion sprinter, J J The Jet Plane, won the G1 Hong Kong Sprint in December. The much loved son of Jet Master downed two world-class champions in Rocket Man and Sacred Kingdom to claim the race. The form of the race was well and truly franked when Rocket Man went on to win both the G1 Dubai Golden Sheehan and G1 Krisflyer Sprint.
A new star arrived on the South African turf, when the enormous filly, Ebony Flyer blitzed her field in the G2 Odessa Fillies Championship. The big, black filly thrashed subsequent TBA Paddock Stakes winner Emerald Cove by 5.5 lengths to stamp herself as the best 3yo filly seen out, at that stage. Ebony Flyer went on to beat Igugu in the Cape Fillies Guineas before finishing an excellent third in the G1 L’Ormarins Queens Plate. Sadly, her campaign was sidelined after that race, amidst rumours that she had a breathing problem.
The L’Ormarins Queens Plate was one of the highlights of the Cape Summer Season. An elegant and graceful occasion, the race itself was dominated by the clash between members of the fairer sex, in Mother Russia and Ebony Flyer. The older mare ran out a comfortable winner, defeating Tales of Bravery, Ebony Flyer and Pocket Power. The latter had been bidding for an unprecedented five timer in the race.
The much vaunted Cape Premier Yearling Sale was held, and proved a success story. The first yearling sale held in a major city, it was hosted by the TBA at the Cape Town International Centre. The sale was topped by two colts, who sold for R2.5 million apiece. Both yearling colts were sons of champion sire Jet Master.
The Cape Premier Sale had a slightly negative impact on the National Yearling Sale, with the Premier Sale taking horses (and buyers) from the National Sale. Nonetheless, the National Yearling Sale was topped by a Jet Master filly, who sold for R3.2 million. The sales were dominated by the offspring of the great stallion Jet Master, who was involved in a fierce tussle with Captain Al for the sires title.
The J&B Met was won by the versatile gelding, Past Master. The 4yo had disappointed in the Queen’s Plate but bounced back to win the Met for an emotional Hassan Adams. Mother Russia was runner up for a second consecutive year, with 3yo Run For It putting up a cracking effort to finish third.
The Met proved the final run of Pocket Power’s career. The triple Horse of the Year was retired to a life of less pressure after an unplaced run in the Met.
Pocket’s sister, River Jetez, continued the family’s success story in Dubai. After winning the G2 Balanchine Stakes in Dubai, River Jetez went onto finish second in both the G1 Dubai Duty Free and G1 Singapore Airlines International Cup.
Racing in Gauteng was dominated by the brilliant 3yo Igugu. After losing the Fillies Guineas to Ebony Flyer, she went unbeaten through the rest of the season. Igugu became the first filly ever to win the Triple Tiara, and she went on to greater glory in Durban, where her triumphs include a gallant victory in the Vodacom Durban July.
Another filly to come good in Gauteng was Dancewiththedevil. The 4yo won three G1 races during the past season, including the open WFA races the Horse Chestnut Stakes and Gold Challenge, before ending her season with two unplaced runs.
The Vodacom Durban July was marred by rough riding, and the tragic death of former winner, Big City Life. Mike de Kock’s brilliant filly Igugu stamped herself as a true champion with a comprehensive defeat of Pierre Jourdan, with top 3yo colts English Garden and The Apache filling the minor placings.
The juvenile scene was dominated by imports. The Australian bred Delago Deluxe stamped himself as arguably the best 2yo colt in training, going unbeaten through four starts. His wins included scores in the G2 SA Nursery and G1 Gold Medallion.
In contrast, Princess Victoria was easily the best of 2yo fillies seen out last season.
The daughter of the ill-fated Victory Moon won four of her five starts, and her wins included the G1 Allan Robertson Fillies Championship and G1 Golden Slipper. She looks hard to oppose in next season’s classics, and would be an interesting contender in the colts races.
There was a thrilling fight for the jockeys championship, between Anthony Delpech and Anton Marcus. The latter drew clear with two days to go and maintained his lead. In the end, Marcus prevailed with 234 winners to his rival’s score of 225. Marcus’ feat was more impressive when taking into account that he suffered from bronchitis, and yet he still managed to prevail.
Summerhill Stud, again, were champion breeders, and Mike de Kock was champion trainer yet again. De Kock’s runners included Igugu, Amanee, Mother Russia as well as the Summer Cup winner Flirtation.
De Kock also enjoyed a good season overseas, with River Jetez, Zanzamar , Mahbooba and Reem, to name but a few.
Jet Master won the sires title for a fifth consecutive year, narrowly denying Captain Al a first sires title. It was another superb for season for Jet Master, despite losing his champion son Pocket Power to retirement, and his daughter River Jetez to an overseas campaign.
Half-brother to SA filly established as Guineas favourite
The unbeaten 2yo, Harbour Watch, stamped himself as a leading contender, and current favourite, for next year’s 2000 Guineas, with a fluent win in Friday’s G2 Richmond Stakes. The son of Acclamation (Royal Applause) is now unbeaten in three starts.
The Richard Hannon trained colt is out of the unplaced mare, Gorband(Woodman). The latter is also dam of the useful SA based filly Europa Point (Rock of Gibraltar), who has won three of her seven starts – and must now be an incredibly valuable broodmare prospect!
Interestingly, Gorband is a half-sister to the South African sire Kabool, whilst Gorband’s granddam is no less than Broodmare of the Year Fall Aspen – dam of champion sire Fort Wood.
It was a good weekend for Woodman mares, as the son of Mr Prospector is also broodmare sire of G1 Thekwini Stakes heroine Amanee (Pivotal).
Strangely enough, the Richmond Stakes runner up, Bannock (Bertolini), is also related to a South African performer. The colt is out of UAE Oaks winner Laoub – dam of the useful PE filly A Star For Maria (Noverre).