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SA Triple Crown – Time For Change?

R11 million at stake for regional competition

Three steps to turf immortality.That’s the reward of dominance and supremacy in the three designated races from March to May, that could see us crown a 2018 SA Triple Crown or SA Triple Tiara star.

Abashiri – guts and glory

The SA Triple Crown, with the SA Triple Tiara, gets underway on 3 March, and is undoubtedly a remarkable test of ability, character and endurance. To win three tough races from a mile to 2450m over eight weeks takes a helluva horse and a feat of conditioning. That’s why we have names like Mike de Kock, Geoff Woodruff and Mike Azzie on the honour roll.

Horse Chestnut wins the 1998 Dingaans

Horse Chestnut – the first Triple Crown hero

The great Horse Chestnut won the inaugural Triple Crown in 1999, Louis The King did it in 2014 and Abashiri was the star of the show in 2016.

But is it really the ‘ultimate test of brilliance’, as often tagged?

Logistical factors, such as travelling and the altitude, often prevent the emerging stars from the Cape from taking their chances. “Master trainers have been trying to raid Johannesburg from Cape Town for more than a century. It has been done successfully on occasions but, basically, we can’t reinvent the wheel.” Jono Snaith told Michael Clower recently.

Bringing in the alternate first leg of the Gr1 Cape Guineas hasn’t really worked either. So the prestigious SA Triple Crown kicks off with a Gr2 in the Gauteng Guineas.

Louis The King

Race gradings are fairly scientific. Assessments  are done on the basis of the top four finishers’ top rating achieved at the end of the season being averaged out. This is done over a three year period to achieve a levelling out. For Gr1’s, the average required is a 115. If this is not achieved, the IFHA will issue a warning and a likely downgrade follows.

Let’s think about reinventing  the SA Triple Crown. What about the Cape Guineas (December), reschedule the Daily News to April, and culminate with the SA Derby in May?

Is parochialism, coupled with control and vested interests across provincial and operator boundaries, preventing us from putting our heads together and creating the genuine ‘ultimate test of brilliance’?

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The R11 Million Calendar

The R7 million SA Triple Crown for 3 year olds is the richest series of races in Africa.

The Triple Crown comprises:

Leg 1: The R1-million Gr1 Cape Guineas 1600m – already run


Leg 1: The R1-million Betting World Gr2 Gauteng Guineas 1600m – Turffontein  Saturday 3 March

Leg 2: The R2-million Gr1 SA Classic (Grade 1) 1800m – Turffontein Saturday 7 April

Leg 3: The R2-million Gr1 SA Derby 2450m – Turffontein Standside Saturday 5 May

A bonus of R2 million will be paid to owner/s of the horse that wins all three legs

The R3.5-million / R4-million Wilgerbosdrift SA Triple Tiara for 3-year-old fillies is the richest series of races for fillies in Africa.

The Triple Tiara comprises:

Leg 1: The R1-million Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas 1600m – already run


Leg 1: The R500 000 Gr2 Gauteng Fillies Guineas 1600m – Turffontein Saturday 3 March

Leg 2: The R1-million Gr1 SA Fillies Classic  1800m – Turffontein Saturday 7 April

Leg 3: The R1-million Gr2 SA Oaks  2450m – Turffontein Saturday 5 May

A bonus of R1 million will be paid to owner/s of the filly that wins all three legs

Have Your Say

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9 comments on “SA Triple Crown – Time For Change?

  1. Barry Irwin says:

    Badly needed discussion

  2. Kay says:

    Good idea. The KZN Guineas nowadays not really the classic it once used to be. In my opinion the KZN Guineas can be scrapped and the Daily News 2000 kicking off the winter season. Cape Guineas / SA Classic and SA Derby will be the ultimate test forTriple Crown glory!

  3. EJC Blackwood says:

    I regard the South African Guineas at Greyville a better race than the Gauteng Guineas..
    besides, you can’t have all the three “triple crown” races run at the same course — as suggested above — that is against the unwritten rules… applied by all other racing countries.. except those who have only have one decent racecourse..

    1. Editor says:

      Idea is to spread the competition over three provinces with genuine Gr1 contests

  4. Mark Logan says:

    Can I suggest the following SA Triple Crown for 3yr olds: a seperate colts and fillies Guineas- 1600m (January at Kenilworth), SA Classic- 1800m (March at Turffontein) and the Daily News- 2000m (May at Greyville and it should be renamed the the SA Derby). A R5m bonus could be awarded to any horse winning the Triple Crown. In addition make the July a WFA race for all ages over 2400m ( Africa’s version of the Arc). A R10m bonus could be paid to a 3yr old that wins the Triple Crown and July. In effect concentrate all SA Gr1 races between January and July and gave a 5 month offseason with only handicaps from August to December.

    1. Mark Logan I agree with you, that would decide the best 3YO in the country.

  5. Mark Logan says:

    Another thought. Racing is dying so the industry needs to be innovative and exciting and have context. How about a series for older horses with a bonus for winning all three of the following races all run at WFA: the Met in Feb, move the Summer Cup to the end of summer (April) and the July. Our current racing seasons and programming has no logic or pattern. Create a 7 month season (similar) to the UK when all our Group/Grade races are run. It will need cooperation between the operators in Jhb, Cape Town and KZN. Remember SA racing in the 1960’s, 70’s and early 80’s and the excitement and glamour and prestige and front page headlines. The racing industry needs to recreate that.

  6. Bugs Bunny says:

    Can any of the triple crown winners, apart of course from Horse Chestnut, be said to have been the best horse, or even the best three year old, of their season? If the answer is “no”, or “mostly no”, then that itself confirms that a big change is required.

    Completely agree with three races in three centres, although altitude differences could dissuade a lot of trainers from moving to 1 centre for just 1 race.

    But, definitely, Gr 1 races need to all become WFA races. If you want big handicaps, they can be Gr 2s.

  7. Rian says:

    The monies our owners are racing for in this country is a Disgrace especially our Graded races, and I agree with Mark who is thankfully putting a lot of Logic into his evaluation of the current disorganized system,
    A Triple crown for just over 500,000 US , PATHETIC
    Good Horses will travel anywhere for the right money

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