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Has The Gold Lost The Lustre?

Over the years, stayers have dropped to the bottom of the food chain in the SA horseracing hierarchy. Few breed them. Less buy them – and nobody is incentivising them.

We are not alone, it seems.

But it’s a great pity really as staying races are great crowd favourites and often spectacles that mirror life itself.

Gold Cup

Gold Cup trophy


The gradual decline of our own Gold Cup, run at Greyville since 1921, and for decades the benchmark of our staying excellence – but now a modest Gr3 event – is the ultimate indictment that something is not the way it should be.

The British Horseracing Authority recently acknowledged that staying horses often become public favourites due to their lengthier careers, courage and durability, and are an important cog in the thoroughbred gene pool.

Big Orange – soldier staying son of Duke Of Marmalade

They resolved to sit down and come up with a plan to incentivise and encourage behavioural change relating to the breeding, buying, owning and training of stamina horses.

They put the decline in the quality of their stayers over the past two decades in very simple terms – down to a shift in commercial breeding patters and reactive changes to their racing programme. Our issues are the same and we can’t blame breeders – they are, after all, catering for the market.

The BHA did some interesting conscience prodding and called on the industry at large to stand up and demonstrate a collective responsibility to protecting, encouraging and investing in stamina bloodlines.

Voodoo Charm - 1985 Gr1 Game Gold Cup

Voodoo Charm – 1985 Gr1 Game Gold Cup

But patriotic calls and bold talk are cheap, so they also came up with a plan to improve the racing programme as an incentive.

During 2018, 2019 and 2020, the BHA Development fund have allocated and invested close to the equivalent of R36 million in stamina races, with individual jurisdictions supplementing incremental increases.

Since 2016, several similar improvements were introduced in Ireland, France and Germany for stayers, which was a demonstration of the commitment to the concept from the European Pattern Committee.

So who will take the lead here in our own backyard – or do we have more pressing issues distracting us?

Gold Cup entries due by 11h00 on Monday 8 July

Weights published on same day

Supplementary entries by 11h00 on Monday 15 July

Declarations due by 11h00 on Thursday 18 July

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4 comments on “Has The Gold Lost The Lustre?

  1. wesnaude1999 says:

    My suggestion is to change the conditions of the race to WFA to attract a better class of horse. Some horses who just fail to win at WFA at middle distance might be suited to going the extra trip. Most feature races need new conditions to be honest.

  2. Trevor says:

    Well said Wesnaude I couldn’t agree more with you.
    If Its My Turn can come out and win the gold cup why shouldn’t any other middle distance horse be given a chance. Maybe it’s the trainer, owners who knows. But my main issue is, there is not enough marathon races for trainers to test the horse to go the distance. That’s why we all scratch out heads always thinking wether we should go with these middle distance horse when they are entered in marathon races.
    Well for me the gold cup is a good race meeting and the gold vase is a good pointer leading up to the gold cup.
    My early fancy for the gold cup is Made to Conquer.
    That’s just my 2c worth

  3. Harold says:

    A WFA grade 3 contest would only attract a handful of horses rated 100 plus. That would scare away the opposition, leaving us with a small field. Hardly fitting of a great race like the Gold Cup. What we need is more races over distances of 2400m to 3200m from maidens to pinnacle races. My early fancy is Sunshine Silk if she runs

  4. Wesley Naude says:

    Harold. I see what you’re saying. Having more staying races in the schedule in combination with the Gold cup being WFA will IMO have the gold cup retain its group 1 status it has lost. A general increase in the number of staying races is definitely a priority that needs to be taken. I agree with you on that. I just think the best races for each division need to be at WFA. Sunshine silk is in top form but I do like the efforts of liege and magnificent seven. Both are examples of middle distance horses who tried the staying trip and won their respective races. It’s my turn from last year is another example of this.

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