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Race For The Classics!

Action starts at Turffontein on Saturday

Winning three tough races from a mile to 2450m in eight weeks takes some doing.

Louis The King in full flight for Triple Crown glory 

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

The Mike de Kock trained Galileo flyer Igugu was the first filly to win the Triple Tiara. That was in 2011 and Ormond Ferraris-trained Cherry On The Top emulated that feat in 2013. The latter’s daughter Blossom runs in the Gauteng Fillies Guineas on Saturday!

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

The alternate first leg, the R1-million Cape Guineas run at Kenilworth on Saturday 15 December 2018, was won by Mike de Kock’s Soqrat.

The Gauteng legs commence at Turffontein on Saturday with the running of the  R1-million Gr2 Gauteng Guineas

The R2-million Gr1 SA Classic to be run at Turffontein over 1800mon Saturday 2 March  is the second leg.

The third and final leg will be the R2-million Gr1 SA Derby to be run over 2450m at Turffontein on Saturday 30 March.

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

Cherry On The Top G2 Gauteng Fillies Guineas

-Cherry On The Top was top class

The fillies are catered for with the  R3.75-million / R4-million Wilgerbosdrift SA Triple Tiara, the richest series of races for fillies in Africa.

The alternate first leg was the R1-million WSB Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas run at Kenilworth on Saturday 15 December 2018 and won by the Dynasty daughter, Front And Centre.

The Gauteng legs for the fairer sex also commence at Turffontein this Saturday with the R750 000 Wilgerbosdrift Gr2 Gauteng Fillies Guineas.

The second leg is the R1.25-million Wilgerbosdrift Gr1 SA Fillies Classic run over 1800m at Turffontein on Saturday 2 March .

The rich series culminates with the  R750 000 Wilgerbosdrift Gr2 SA Oaks run over 2450m at Turffontein on Saturday 30 March.

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


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18 comments on “Race For The Classics!

  1. jc lee ching says:

    Is it not coincidence that the three triple crown winners and trained in Joburg? The other top class three year olds just don’t bother to make the trip up there. And how good were these three winners? Horse Chestnut was a fair horse but I don’t think the other two won a race again. The triple CRown races in USA and England are all run on different courses, forcing horses to travel and nullifying a home town advantage. The English Triple Crown is the real test of a three year old, you must go all the way back to 1970 (FORTY EIGHT YEARS AGO) to find a winner the GREAT NIJINSKI. Now that was some race horse.

  2. Roderick Mattheyse says:

    Louis the King won the summercup afterwards

  3. George says:

    Horse chestnut a fair horse? You got to be joking..

  4. Devon Faizal Patrix says:

    Horse Chestnut a fair Horse. LOL.. obviously you did not see him in action..

  5. jc lee ching says:

    I saw GREAT horses run

  6. The Dark Duke says:

    JC lee ching please review HC Met win as a 3yo and tell me what of the GREAT horses you saw rum would have beaten him on the day? Debating merits of different generations is futile however calling this champion fair has pricked my interest.

  7. Jay August says:

    Dark Duke, I do not think it is entirely futile comparing different generations. With enough data and time you could reach a pretty sound decision (statistically speaking). The problem is we don’t have access to enough data or the time necessary to do that comparison. However I will back you up on the Horse Chestnut call. Who can name a three year old who ran a better race against older horses, over further than 1400m, before February of their three year old career than he did? The only likely candidates are King’s Pact when she won the Champion Stakes in August 1953 by almost 10 lengths; Home Guard when he beat William Penn in the Transvaal Champion Stakes in August 1968, or maybe Sea Cottage in his Queens Plate win in January 1966. Any others? Given the size of the respective fields I’d have to give it to Horse Chestnut.

  8. jc lee ching says:

    Reviewing the Met in question. They were a rather moderate bunch. Horse Chestnut beat Classic Flag 8 lengths receiving 5 1/2 kgs. Next time out Classic Flag is beaten 9.3 lengths by Smart Money AT LEVEL WEIGHTS???? SMART MONEY??? The following year’s Met Classic Flag gives the 3 year old Badgers Coast 5 1/2 kgs and is beaten NINE AND THREE QUARTER LENGTHS??? In the final leg of the triple crown, the sa derby, Horse Chestnut beats Dangerous Donald Donald 9,75 lengths at level weights. DANGEROUS DONALD??? The highest rated race won by Dangerous Donald was a C DIVISION???

  9. Jay August says:

    JC, you are cherry picking the data you want to prove a point. No other horse has won by the margin HC did in the last 50 years so that at least should highlight the achievement, or flag it as above average. In the absence of competition good horses put distance between themselves and the opposition.

    Let me however cherry pick data. Faralmond (3rd) ran in 3 successive Mets of which the HC one was the last. His sequence was 7th (beaten 2.5 lengths by London News), 8th (beaten 4 lengths by Imperious Sue) and 3rd (beaten 8.5 lengths by HC). Also in the 99 Met was El Picha who was certainly no slouch and who finished out of the money. Classic Flag ran 2nd to El Picha later in that year, in the July giving him 4.5kgs. Did Classic Flag really run much worse in the Met than he did in the July?

    Smart Money which ran 4th to HC then went on to win both the Horse Chestnut Stakes (then run as the FNB) and the Drill Hall Stakes in the same year. He had run 4 lengths behind Jet Master in the Queens Plate just prior to his 4th (9.5 lengths) behind HC. You forget to mention that El Picha out of the money in 99 ran 2nd to Badgers Coast in 2000 Met. You also forget to mention that Savannah Queen ran 5th in both races beaten 10 lengths by HC and 6 lengths by Badgers Coast while at 1kg worse terms to BC than HC.

    That HC received 5.5kgs from Classic Flag is merely noise as that is the WFA in Jan. He only received 1kg from Faralmond a six year old. At level weights he would most likely have won anyway.

    The SA Derby is not of much consequence as the best horses usually bypass it and its standard is not that of the Met quality. HC won it by one the largest margins in history. What else did he need to do?

    You can pick collateral form lines all day long and reach no consensus. You can also draw lines from other horses and reach no consensus. But you cannot argue that HC won those two races by the either the widest or near-to-widest margins in history. That in itself flags him as one of the best horses to race in SA at three.

  10. Steve Reid says:

    JC enlighten us who the winner of the 1998 July was. THE JULY???? THE BIGGEST RACE IN SOUTH AFRICA???? You are delusional if you think Horse Chestnut was not an exceptional animal. I agree with the Duke, it serves no purpose trying to compare different eras and trying to determine which was the stronger. Horse Chestnut demolished whatever was put in front of him.

  11. jc lee ching says:

    Steve Reid, Classic Flag, but he was a shadow of his july win hence the drubbing by HC, tell me who Dangerous Donald was? and Smart Money?

  12. jc lee ching says:


  13. Harold says:

    Coming back to the gist of the article, the original SA triple crown comprised The Cape Guineas as the first leg, SA Classic as leg 3 and The SA 2000 as the 3rd Leg. This was in 3 major provinces and to my memory, no horse has ever won it making a much more meritorious achievement. The Durban season has no triple crown race but the top 3 year male invariably comes out of Champions Season.

  14. jc lee ching says:

    Harold I believe you are correct regarding three different venues for the original triple crown This endorses my original point to make the competition more diverse thereby attracting a broader base of horse. As you also state the champion three year old only emerges during the Durban Champion Season. I seem to have stepped on a few rather big toes. I am merely stating the facts not trying to be controversial, but everybody is entitled to their views. In my humble and maybe suspect opinion I regard SEA COTTAGE and HAWAII as the greatest race horses to race here. Their records are plain to see. Lenin is widely touted by some as being the greatest and they could be correct but I did not see Lenin race, I did see Sea Cottage and Hawaii run.

  15. Jay August says:

    Harold, no horse has won it and it is always going to favour a Highveld trained horse in whatever guise. The only horse who did anything similar was Hawaii who won all three Guineas (Benoni, Cape and South African) back in 1967/68 when those races were the premier three-year-old races. I’m guessing that the only horse, since the races you mention have been run, who could have won all three, would have been Horse Chestnut. Problem is his career ended in SA in April 99.

  16. Jay August says:

    JC, you ain’t stepped on my big toe. You are just expressing your opinion which is what makes these debates interesting. I believe you need to reappraise Horse Chestnut for the reasons I outline below, which are in addition to the points I made earlier.

    1) The foal crops in the 1960’s were smaller than they are today and when Horse Chestnut ran. Roughly 2.45% of foals worldwide have a chance of winning a Graded race in their lifetime. You can check that number by referencing the IFHA data, for Tier 1 nations, – https://www.tjcis.com/pdf/icsc18/EndMaterial2018.pdf
    2) The chance of winning a Graded race in SA is somewhat higher, 3.6%. The addition of foreign imports into SA drops that number slightly but not anywhere close to the worldwide average. The only horses likely to win a Grade 1 race are horses 3 standard deviations away from the mean. There are very few such horses racing annually.
    3) Maximum field sizes have not grown over time and if anything they have shrunk from the 1960’s. The foal crop has more than doubled from the 1960’s to now (approx. 1400 foals when Sea Cottage was foaled compared to roughly 3200 today). The likelihood the top horses run into stiffer competition is therefore more than double today, implying Horse Chestnut had much more chance of running against better opposition (three standard deviation horses) than either Sea Cottage or Hawaii and most definitely Lenin. In simple terms that is 50 more good horses in SA today competing for the Met and July than there were in the 1960’s. The fact that you do not rate those horses opposing Horse Chestnut better than those opposing Hawaii and Sea Cottage is perhaps down to their (the opposing horses) inability to dominate the higher number of eligible challengers as well as the earlier ones did against fewer such horses in the 1960’s.
    4) What has changed in response to the stiffer competition in major races is that the average weight given away has shrunk considerably in Grade 1 handicap races. We also have substantially more WFA races today in response to the stiffer competition amongst the best horses. The one Grade 1 race that has remained a handicap throughout however is the July Handicap.
    5) The weight given away in the July has compressed significantly from the 1966 running (Sea Cottages first) to now. That is a direct result of the greater number of better horses running the race today than in the 1960’s. It is far harder to dominate a July today than it was in 1966, despite not carrying some of the weight burdens of the past. The 1966 July had a weight range of 13kgs and an average weight carried of 50.5kgs. Last years July had a weight range of 7kgs and an average of 55kgs.
    6) The time to win the July has dropped significantly for the 30 year periods, 1950-1979 versus 1989-2018. Thirty is a good sample size to make a valid comparison and iron out any anomalies. The race was run over 2100m up and till 1969 and I make no adjustment for the extra 100m from the 1970 running, so in fact slightly prejudicing today’s runners. Nonetheless the average 2000m time has dropped from 123.87s (1950-1979) to 122.03s (1989-2018). Is that drop down entirely to a change in course conditions or a better class of horse running, or perhaps both. That is a 12 length variance in favour of today’s horses. If you look at the average time by decade the 1960’s has the slowest average winning July time, even slower than in the 1950’s. The average lengths beaten for the top 10 horses in each period has also shrunk despite the compressing of the weight scale and higher average weight carried, another indicator of a greater number of better horses running today for the same number of starting slots.

    Additionally if both Hawaii and Sea Cottage had stopped running in April of their 3-year-old careers would either of them be regarded any better than Horse Chestnut? I’ll stop there as this is now very long but there are factors which today’s racehorse is challenged with which simply were not so in the 1960’s and most definitely not so when Lenin ran in the 1940’s.

  17. jc lee ching says:

    Jay I may not agree with you regarding Horse Chestnut but I am rather impressed with your in depth knowledge of horse racing which makes for refreshing and constructive debate unlike some inane remarks leveled at me, but as I always say everyone is entitled to their opinion. Thanks for the frank and forthright retorts, keeps me on my toes, unlike the usual diatribe that one dismisses with the contempt it deserves.

  18. Jay August says:

    JC, cheers. It is hard to stomach the vitriol from certain quarters and respond rationally every time. The only two options are to remain silent or answer back with facts and some logic.

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