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No Junk Status Intended

Why should the Sansui Summer Cup, in essence a well-heeled local handicap, be a Gr1 race?

Ken Truter – Chairman of the Graded Races Comittee

While breeders use it as their benchmark of excellence, does race grading really make a difference to owners, trainers and punters?

It is understandable that sponsors may aspire to be associated with Gr1 status. By their nature they attract more hype, adspend and attention from the operators, media and uninformed general public.

But who really cares if the Vodacom Durban July is a Gr2 and why should the Sansui Summer Cup, in essence a well-heeled local handicap, be a Gr1 race?

The downgrading of certain South African feature races has followed a recommendation from the National Horseracing Authority’s Graded Races Committee.

The Graded Races Committee received a letter in late 2015 from the Asian Pattern Committee expressing concern that the number of Grade 1 races in South Africa was excessive compared to other countries.

The Asian Pattern Committee suggested that ideally South Africa should have no more than 25 Gr1 races and it was against this background that the  Graded Races Committee agreed to aggressively review all of South Africa’s Gr1 races over the next few years.

In 2011 South Africa agreed to comply with the Ground Rules of the Asian Pattern Committee.

In terms of the Ground Rules all races must justify their grading by the quality of its runners.  The quality of the field is assessed primarily by the annual race ratings of the first four placed horses over a three year period.

The following races were downgraded to Gr3 status this season:

The Debutante, Gold Bowl, Gold Cup, Umkhomazi Stakes and the Victory Moon Stakes.

The following races were downgraded to Listed status this season:

Algoa Cup, Champion Juvenile Cup, Christmas Handicap, Eastern Cape Derby, Jacaranda Handicap, Kenilworth Fillies Nursery, The Langerman, Racing Association Handicap and the Acacia Handicap.

For the record, the present Graded Races Committee under the Chairmanship of Ken Truter, comprises Lyndon Barends, Arnold Hyde, Roger Smith, Vidrik Thurling, Clyde Basel, Jay Harrielall, Graeme Hawkins, Raf Sheik, Larry Wainstein and Kevin Sommerville .

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3 comments on “No Junk Status Intended”

  1. This is a good decision. The July and the Summer Cup should never be Grade 1s. Those races are merely well endowed, prestigous handicap races. Grade 1s should be about the best horses winning, not the best handicapped horse winning!

  2. The July, Summer Cup and Gold Cup have long histories of being grade 1 races with the winners being some of the best horses the country has seen. Downgrading them now due to the field they attract would be detrimental to horseracing in SA. Especially as the quality of a field is more an opinion than fact. And opinions generally differ. If SA’s premier race is downgraded, would we not ge downgrading the quality of our sport as well?

  3. We cannot have parity with the rest of the World until we can travel as they do, so the aim should not to fit in , but to be more realistic about the value of the races we have.

    If the races are not attracting the very best horses in the country, whether it is because of geography or handicapping/ track conditions then there is very little reason to have the highest status as in a G1.

    Having some Status downgrades and possibly upgrades of other different races should be a natural process, rather than just having a “traditional ” G1 status race stay as that, when the conditions surrounding the race have changed enough to have effected the quality of entry or manipulated the results by handicapping so that the very best horses cannot excel.
    And Yes, the July falls into that category , along with a few other races that connections automatically skip with the best horses as soon as weight or draw looks unfavourable.

    The point is G1 races should be highly sought after, fair as can be made, and regularly won / places filled by the best horses, without regard to the betting market for that race.

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