The season just finished provided plenty of entertainment and food for thought throughout the year. What remains is to decide on the names of the various champions who graced the turf during 2014-2015. Not for the first time, plenty of the Equus Awards have open looks to them, and more than one category has a wide range of contenders.
Entisaar surely has the 2YO Filly title sewn up. The daughter of More Than Ready accomplished more than any of her rivals, winning the Listed Ruffian Stakes on debut, and picking up the Gr2 SA Fillies Nursery and Gr1 Allan Robertson Championship on subsequent racecourse appearances. With the Gr1 Golden Slipper and Gr1 Thekwini Stakes being won by two different fillies, Entisaar looks all but assured of the Equus Champion 2YO Filly Award.
Champion 2YO Colt also looks to have a clear cut winner in the form of the once defeated Seventh Plain (Seventh Rock). A winner of two Grade One races, as well as the Gr3 Godolphin Barb Stakes, Seventh Plain seems the proverbial good thing in this category. His only rival is the undefeated Rabada (Brave Tin Soldier), but the latter is not as accomplished as Seventh Plain, a more than worthy winner of the award.
3 Year Olds
Early on, it looked as if Majmu (Redoute’s Choice) was a shoe-in for Champion 3YO Filly award. However, she could yet be rivalled for this award by Alboran Sea, who picked up a pair of Grade One wins (Cape Flying Championship, Computaform Sprint) in open company. While Majmu was defeated in her two appearances against males (albeit with excuses), Alboran Sea beat not only a top class filly in Carry On Alice, but the country’s best sprinter Captain Of All. Sadly, neither Alboran Sea (booked to visit first season sire Soft Falling Rain) or Majmu are likely to be seen on South African racecourses again. In an ordinary year all of Carry On Alice (Captain Al), Inara (Trippi), Same Jurisdiction (Mambo In Seattle) or Siren’s Call (Elusive Fort) would be worthy winners, but this would appear a match race.
Legal Eagle (Greys Inn) is likely to be named Champion 3YO Colt, following a season which saw him pick up both the Gr1 SA Derby and the Gr3 Jubilee Handicap. He was also the first 3YO home in the Vodacom Durban July. The colt would be a worthy winner, with his toughest competition looking to be stable mate, and dual Gr1 winner, French Navy (Count Dubois) and possibly Gr1 Grand Parade Cape Guineas winner Act Of War (Dynasty).
With voters taking into account Saturday’s Gr1 races, Futura looks too hard to deny in the older male category. The son of Dynasty managed to win both the Gr1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and Gr1 J&B Met and ran a cracker when fourth in the Vodacom Durban July. His stiffest competition looks to be Captain Of All, but the number of Gr1 wins (Futura’s three to his opponent’s two) should tip the scale in favour of Futura. Other contenders for this award could include July winner Power King and fellow Gr1 winners Legislate and Wylie Hall.
With 3yo fillies dominating the country’s major races for fillies and mares, 2014-2015 will not perhaps be remembered as a vintage season for older females. The likes of Ash Cloud (Black Minnaloushe), Fly By Night (Jet Master), Hammie’s Hooker (Trippi) and Jet Belle (Jet Master) look the likely candidates for this award.
While Alboran Sea had a very successful campaign, it is hard to vision her beating Captain Of All for the Sprinter of the Year award. The son of Captain Al was magnificent this season, and put up a superb performance when overcoming top weight to land the Gr1 Tsogo Sun Sprint. He was equally majestic when victorious in the Gr1 Mercury Sprint.
Stayer of the year looks a choice between Gold Cup winner Wild One (Mogok) and SA Derby winner Legal Eagle (Greys Inn), with other likely candidates possibly including Disco Al (Captain Al), Heart Of A Lion (Seul Amour), and Kingston Mines (Archipenko).
A number of stallions have enjoyed remarkable success this season, with Captain Al, Dynasty, and Silvano especially having memorable spells. It is a tough call with Captain Al becoming one of just a handful of stallions heading both the General and 2YO Sires List in one season and former champion Silvano siring the 1-2-3 in the Vodacom Durban July. However, given his remarkable consistency throughout the season, Captain Al (who was represented by Grade 1 winners from 1200m to 2450m this year) does look a worthy winner of the Outstanding Stallion Award. The past season has, however, seen a number of sires shine, and all the potential candidates look worthy winners.
Broodmare of the Year
Broodmare Of The Year looks potentially controversial, with possibly Si Senorita (Cordoba) the leading candidate. The dam of four black type performers thus far, the mare’s top performers in 2014-2015 include Gr1 Grand Parade Cape Guineas winner Act Of War (Dynasty), and promising 2yo The Stone Thrower (Seventh Rock), second in both the Gr3 Cape Of Good Hope Nursery and Gr3 Champion Juvenile Cup. Si Senorita’s previous top runner was Gr3 Langerman winner, Subtastador (Tara’s Halls).
Horse of the Year
The title of Horse Of The Year, in my opinion, appears (on performance and ratings) to lie between Futura and Captain Of All. With Futura having won the Gr1 Champions Cup, he looks likely to win the title. Should he do so, he would continue the great run that his sire Dynasty has enjoyed at the Equus Awards. Himself a former Horse Of The Year, Dynasty already has a pair of sons (Irish Flame, Legislate) named Horse of the Year. Can Futura make it a treble?