The deceased champion Captain Al (Al Mufti) was the only stallion to produce two Gr1 winners – that being Undercover Agent in the Rising Sun Gold Challenge and Captain America, who won the Champions Cup – in the 2018 SA Champions Season, which came to a close at Greyville on Saturday.
Other sires to make their mark in the thirteen Gr1 contests were Bold Silvano, Var, Oratorio, Pathfork, Gimmethegreenlight, Twice Over, Western Winter, Imperial Stride and Pomodoro.
Two Australian sires in Street Cry (Oh Susanna in the Woolavington) and Epaulette (Soqrat in the Premiers Champion Stakes) sired winners bred abroad.
The Gr1 Breeders
Maine Chance Farms, Varsfontein Stud and Northfields shared the breeding honours with two Gr1’s apiece in the SA Champions Season.
Others to celebrate the highly satisfying achievement of breeding a high-level winner include Ascot Stud, Drakenstein, Moutonshoek, Lammerskraal, Mike Sharkey and Limpo Retail.
Shadwell Australasia is the only non South African breeder to have registered a Gr1 success in the SA Champions Season.
The Gr1 Trainers
While Philippi-based Brett Crawford was the major player with 3 of the 13 Gr1’s banked, it is interesting that Gauteng based yards won more than 50% of the big races.
Brett Crawford won the Tsogo Sun Sprint with Bold Respect, the Gold Challenge with Undercover and the Champions Cup with Captain America.
SA Champions outgoing and incoming, Sean Tarry and Justin Snaith, won two apiece.
The Gauteng trainers, Corne Spies, Johan Janse van Vuuren, Stuart Pettigrew, Mike Azzie, Mike de Kock and Sean Tarry (2) picked up 7 Gr1’s between them.
The Cape got 5 Gr1’s – with Crawford’s trio of big hits and Justin Snaith winning the Vodacom Durban July (Do It Again) and Woolavington 2000 (Oh Susanna).
Dennis Drier – with Sommerlied in the SA Fillies Sprint – was the only KZN-based conditioner to win a Gr1.
The Gr1 Jockeys
Anton Marcus’ recordbreaking 100th career Gr1 victory on Snaith’s Do It Again in the Vodacom Durban July was the outstanding achievement from the saddle. He was one of a quartet of riders to unsaddle two Gr1’s in the SA Champions Season.
Marcus also won the Gr1 Thekwini Stakes on Return Flight to crown a season where an injury in the Daisy Guineas almost derailed his plans and where he ended matters on a high.
Corne Orffer, with Bold Respect (Tsogo Sun Sprint) and Captain America (Champions Cup) tied on two with Craig Zackey who piloted Van Halen in the Gold Medallion and Will Pays in the Mercury Sprint, as well as apprentice Lyle Hewitson who achieved his double on Undercover Agent in the Gold Challenge, and probably produced the Gr1 ride of the season on Redberry Lane who got up to pip Snowdance in the Garden Province Stakes.