Whether we are talking racing or politics it’s amazing the difference a year makes.
Twelve months ago National Park was bizarrely not considered good enough to make the nominations list in the 2yo category. On Wednesday evening the fabulous athlete was crowned East Cape Horse Of The Year and Champion 3yo Colt/ Gelding.
The saga of what went down in that strange omission a year ago has probably been filed with the then Convenor of the East Cape Awards panel, Thulani Khanyile, who has since left the industry.
Despite being included in the nominations after an outcry from the National Park owners, the smart galloper was overlooked with the committee siding with Alfeo, a deserving recipient in the end, who had won 3 of his 6 starts, including a stakes feature.
But in sport and life, all that acrimony is now muddy water under the bridge as Wednesday evening’s function hailed National Park a horse with a great record and a bright future.
National Park’s big moment of the season came when he downed Hawwaam in the Gr2 Gauteng Guineas at Turffontein in February.
The Gauteng Guineas winner is a son of Gimmethegreenlight (More Than Ready) out of six-time winner, Fancy Park (Camden Park).
A R240 000 National Yearling Sale graduate, National Park was bred by Knysna-based Rob Knuppe’s Missing U Syndicate, who also races the gelding in partnership with Hedley McGrath, Bryn Ressell and Mark Wright.
The Missing U Syndicate’s Rob Knuppe and his partner, Port Elizabeth Attorney Jonathan Connellan, were absent from the evening’s celebrations, but can feel justly proud of their achievement with a Camden Park mare that was picked up for just R5 000.
A breeder with an extraordinary strike-rate from small numbers, Knysna-based Rob Knuppe said he was ‘thrilled and proud’. He explained that he had scientifically matched the sadly now deceased Fancy Park with Gimmethegreenlight.
“I worked out that she was the perfect match. She was also only the second mare I ever sent to Gimmethegreenlight. The first produced a foal that died suddenly as a 2yo,” said Rob.
National Park has not seen action since May, when he chased Twist Of Fate home in the KZN Guineas at Hollywoodbets Greyville.
With no races open to him in Port Elizabeth, he looks a perfect candidate for a tilt at the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate in a massive Cape Summer Season that includes SA Horse Of The Year Do It Again, Sun Met winner Rainbow Bridge and De Kock’s bomb, Hawwaam.
With all of his great victories having been achieved with the duress of having to travel, the champion’s top lady-trainer Yvette Bremner could well be tempted to base a small string in the Cape. Against the very best, National Park needs to be at the top of his game.
Yvette has proven that she has refined the long distance travel-and-strike attack. She demonstrated it at Kenilworth last December when her super-fast 4yo Princess Rebel ran her high-class opposition off their feet to win the R400 000 Gr2 Southern Cross Stakes.
Click on the image-see all the winners on page 3