The Sean Tarry trained Greys Inn gelding Legal Eagle swept the boards and was crowned 2015/16 SA Horse Of The Year
The 5yo son of Greys Inn was bred by Avontuur Stud and races in the silks of SA Champion owners, Ingrid and Markus Jooste of Mayfair Speculators (Pty) Ltd.
Legal Eagle won three Gr1 races during the season, and was runner-up in the Gr1 J&B Met behind the high-class Breeders Cup bound filly, Smart Call. The daughter of Ideal World was the recipient of two awards and was fancied in many quarters for the Horse Of The Year title.
Legal Eagle impressed when winning South Africa’s premier weight-for-age mile, the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate during the Cape Summer Of Champions, and then followed that with two scintillating victories in April – the HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes and then ending his campaign with another facile victory in the Premier’s Champions Challenge.
With Racing Manager Derek Brugman away at the Arqana Sale in France, Markus Jooste was on hand to collect the trophy, together with SA Champion Trainer Sean Tarry, top jockey Anton Marcus and an elated Pippa Mckleburgh, GM of Avontuur Estate.
Legal Eagle also won the Champion Older Male and the Champion Miler Awards.
It was great to see Mick Goss accept the Champion Breeder Award for Summerhill Stud’s tenth national championship title.
Looking well after his recent illness, Mick commanded the room with a moving acceptance speech.
He has few equals as a breeder and racing ambassador for South African horseracing – and no equals when it comes to public speaking!
HORSE OF THE YEAR
- Legal Eagle
CHAMPION 2YO Colt
- Always In Charge
CHAMPION 2YO Filly
- Cloth Of Cloud
CHAMPION 3YO Colt
CHAMPION 3YO Filly
CHAMPION Older Filly/Mare
- Smart Call
CHAMPION Sprinter (1000-1200m)
CHAMPION Miler (1400-1600m)
- Legal Eagle
CHAMPION Middle Distance (1800-2200m)
- Smart Call
CHAMPION Stayer (2400m)
- Enaad (Aus)
CHAMPION Older Male
- Legal Eagle
SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT Award
Illuminator – Glen Puller, Frances Carruthers & Ian Robinson
Inara – Mike Bass, Gaynor Rupert, Ross Fuller & Kevin Sommerville
Abashiri – Mike Azzie & Adriaan and Rika Van Vuuren
Our Table Mountain (dam of Cloth of Cloud & equus nominee Silver Mountain)
Exceptional BROODMARE Achievement
Outstanding BREEDER Award
MEDIA Award – Print
Ingrid & Markus Jooste – Mayfair Speculators Pty Ltd
More on the Equus Awards
The Sean Tarry-trained Avontuur Thoroughbred Farm Stud-bred Greys Inn gelding Legal Eagle won the most anticipated Equus Award, Horse Of The Year, at the glittering annual ceremony held at the Emperor’s Palace.
The awards all had deserving winners, but at the same time there were a number of the usual hard luck stories.
The three horses who could be considered desperately unlucky were Smart Call, Abashiri and Mystic Spring, who in any other year would likely have had their names up in lights.
Legal Eagle received the Horse Of The Year award, as well as Champion Older Male and Champion Miler awards, due to his three Gr1 victories. These included two weight for age Mile wins, in the L’Ormarin’s Queen’s Plate and the HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes, as well as a win in the Gr1 R4 million Premier’s Champions Challenge over 2000m.
However, the Mauritzfontein Stud-owned and bred Ideal World filly Smart Call put up one of the best performances ever seen on the South African turf when annihilating the opposition in the Gr 1 J&B Met by 3,5 lengths. Among the vanquished were Legal Eagle, whom she faced on weight for age terms. Her Met win followed a comfortable two lengths victory over the champion filly Inara in the Gr1 Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes over 1800m, a race in which another champion filly, Bela-Bela, finished third.
Smart Call was merit rated 121 after her J&B Met win, one point above Legal Eagle.
However, if anybody ever deserved to be on the right side of a contentious award it was Tarry, as he has had to swallow a few bitter pills in the past. Tarry received the Champion Trainer award for the second time in succession. He was the first to break the 200-winner barrier in a season, sending out 209 winners, and he also smashed the record for stakes earnings. He gave a thought provoking speech with one of his points quoting President Rooseveldt in which the message was to urge people of the racing fraternity to work hard in the arena rather than criticise from the side.
The Champion three-year-old male was another category which was difficult to call. The nominees included SA Triple Crown winner Abashiri and the horse who had captured the imagination of the South African racing public in the latter part of the season, Marinaresco. The panel sided with the Mauritzfontein Stud-bred Mike Bass-trained Silvano gelding Marinaresco. Marinaresco captured two legs of the Cape Winter series, before travelling to Durban and putting up an astonishing performance in the Vodacom Durban July, coming from 17 metres off the pace to run a close second. He later flew home to win the Gr1 Mike and Carol Bass Champions Cup cosily, despite having had his initial run blocked. Bass, who officially retired after a glittering career at the end of last season, received a standing ovation when joining the connections on stage to receive the award.
The Champion Broodmare went to the Highlands Farms Stud-based Our Table Mountain, dam of Gr1 winners during the season Silver Mountain and Cloth Of Cloud. She thoroughly deserved the award, but in any other year it could easily have gone to the amazing Cheveley Stud-based mare Mystic Spring, whose daughter Bela-Bela joined the like of Rabiya, Secret of Victoria, Spring Lilac, Rafiya and Touch The Sky as stakes winners she has produced. Mystic Spring did receive a consolation Exceptional Broodmare award.
Smart Call’s consolation was to be named Equus Champion older female and Champion middle distance horse, while Abashiri received a Special Achievement award for landing the SA Triple Crown.
The Champion Two-year-old filly went to the unbeaten Sean Tarry-trained Highlands Farms Stud-bred Captain Al filly Cloth Of Cloud. Among her three wins was a victory against the boys in the Gr 1 SA Nursery.
The Champion two-year-old male looked clear cut and duly went to another horse by Captain Al, the Vaughan Marshall-trained Klawervlei Stud-bred colt Always In Charge, who won the hotly contested Gr 1 Tsogo Sun Gold Medallion over 1200m at Scottsville by three lengths.
The Champion three-year-old filly also looked clear cut and went to the Justin Snaith-trained Cheveley Stud-bred Dynasty filly Bela-Bela, who won the Gr 2 Daisy Fillies Guineas and the Gr 1 Woolavington 2000.
The Champion Sprinter went to the Coenie de Beer-trained Scott Brothers-bred Overlord gelding Talktothestars, who was merit rated 120 after winning the Gr 1 Tsogo Sun Sprint. The award completed a fairytale for small string trainer De Beer, who also owns Talktothestars.
The Champion Stayer was hard to choose as Abashiri completed the Triple Crown when winning the Gr 1 SA Derby over 2450m, while Enaad won the country’s premier staying race, the eLan Property Group Gold Cup over 3200m, as well as the Gr 3 Gold Vase over 3000m. The Gold Cup winner is usually a shoe-in for the award and it once again swayed that way as the Mike de Kock-trained High Chaparral gelding Enaad, owned and bred by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, was awarded the trophy.
Special achievement awards also went to Ormond Ferraris, who saddled his 2500th winner during the season; the Glen Puller-trained CTS Million Dollar winner Illuminator (the award was accepted by owner Francis Carruthers and jockey Heavelon van der Hoven); the Mike Bass-trained filly Inara for winning three Gr 1s during the season all in different centres (Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban).
The Champion Stallion award went to the Drakenstein Stud-based sire Trippi.
Summerhill Stud won the Champion Breeders award for the tenth time, regaining it from Klawervlei who had won it for the last two years. Summerhill owner Mick Goss was there to receive the award and delivered a typically rousing speech. The dam of Legal Eagle, Young Sensation, was acknowledged with an Outstanding Broodmare award.
Lammerskraal Stud received an Outstanding Breeder award as breeders of Abashiri. The Print Media award went to doyen Charles Faull chiefly for his Thoroughpedia project.
The Champion Apprentice award was received by Callan Murray. The Champion Jockey award was received for the second time by S’Manga Khumalo.
Markus and Ingrid Jooste were once again champions owner. In the season they won nine Gr 1s, including the elusive Vodacom Durban July.