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Who Is Your Gatecrasher On Saturday?

Remembering the big guns

This year’s Sun Met has attracted a vintage field and falls four-and-a-half decades after two of the greatest renewals of the big race.

A number of horses in this year’s line up including Hawwaam, Vardy, Do It Again, Rainbow Bridge, One World and Twist Of Fate are fast gaining fan clubs around the country and such was the case ahead of the Met in both 1975 and 1976.

The great Sledgehammer

The 1975/1975 season was known as the “Year Of The Sledge” as the Fred Rickaby-trained New Zealand-bred four-year-old superstar Sledgehammer won eight of his ten races, including five of the country’s most important weight for age events.

In the August of that season another of the era’s superstars, the George Azzie-trained Elevation, had beaten Sledgehammer narrowly in the Transvaal Champion Stakes at Gosforth Park but he had crossed the latter and the subsequent objection was upheld.

In December in the Holiday Inns (Summer Cup) over 2000m at Turffontein Elevation gained revenge on both Sledgehammer and “the Cape’s grey bomber” Jamaican Music, who had defeated him in the Hawaii Stakes. It was Elevation’s third successive Holiday Inns victory and elevated him to the status of all-time great. .

.The ‘championship’ then headed south where the Met was to be run on January 18.

Sledgehammer’s stamina was going to be tested to the limit as a typically strong South Easter was blowing on the day, so when his gate sensationally opened slowly it might well have worked to his advantage as Ballyhoo set a scorching pace in front.

The Ralph Rixon-trained Jamaican Music seized the lead at the 400m mark while Michael Roberts on “The Sledge” sat glued to Elevation’s tail.

Both great horses launched their challenges at the same time on either side of Jamaican Music. However, Sledgehammer went past Elevation as if he was standing still and vengeance was complete.

However, in the following year’s Met Sledgehammer met his match in the form of the great Gatecrasher.

Gatecrasher – Met gallops in 1976

In fact most of the connections went in to the race believing they were running for second as Gatecrasher had put up one of the best compulsory big-race gallops ever seen in this country.

Apprentice Paddy Wynne was riding Gatecrasher’s gallop partner, the sprinter Glenever, who subsequently won the Grade 2 Merchants.

Gatecrasher began his gallop at the 1800m mark under big race rider Garth Puller and Wynne was instructed to wait at around the 1000m mark and then pick up the big chestnut and give him a lead into the straight.

However, when given the signal Glenever blitzed away and Wynne, as hard as he tried, was unable to control him.

Eventually the red-faced young apprentice accepted his fate and let his mount go, resigning himself to the “hot water” he believed he had landed himself in. Imagine his surprise when Gatecrasher, having traveled virtually double the distance of this specialist sprinter, came bounding past him at the 200m mark before going away to beat him by five lengths!

When the Racegoer went to visit trainer Herman Brown Senior over a decade ago to talk about the best horse he had ever trained he greeted them with the words, “So you’ve come to talk about Gatecrasher, the greatest horse to ever race in this country.”

He might well have been the greatest if all courses were left-handed as he was never beaten that way around and he beat Sledgehammer by two lengths in the 1976 Met.

Puller described Gatecrasher as a horse with an enormous stride who would stretch out further and further the more you asked him.

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30 comments on “Who Is Your Gatecrasher On Saturday?

  1. NAUTILUS says:

    Bringing back memories, by the way when is the gallops for the Sun Met or have I missed it,did not hear a peep from any media or racing folk.

  2. Raj says:

    Is there a video on both of these Mets 1975/1976 which I can watch, will be highly appreciated

  3. Rian says:

    Busy with JLs in Oudtshoorn when the fantastic Gatecrasher won, so missed a few of these great horses racing, but the pic of Gatecrasher stretching out says it all.

  4. Niran says:

    My gatecrasher for saturday is Bunker Hunt … might not win but a genuine place bet .

    1. Editor says:

      Current Saftote div for Bunker Hunt – R183.50 (W) R4.00 (P)

  5. Cecil Pienaar says:

    My upset horse is Eyes Wide Open, so many stories on Warren lately – 50/1 at least back end of Quartets.

    Think back to Alastor winning it 2004? @ 50-1
    But not comparing these with GateCrasher….

    Still believe the top 3 is Hawwaam, Vardy, DIA
    Hoping for Good Weather, No delays….

    Nice Article, Thank You

  6. Rian says:

    Globe trotting Ryan Moore, rode in the States, then Hong Kong and must be heading our way soon, let’s hope he doesn’t carry the virus and give Frankie and Hawaam followers more hangovers and excuses
    Quartet going to be your best bet when the skuds land and we all head for our Bunker

  7. Seattle Slew says:

    Thank you for posting this article – I get goosebumps reading about these great horses of yesteryear. All of Gatecrasher, Sledgehammer and Elevation were household names when I was growing up – I just missed them by a few years, but my parents and uncles would talk about them all the time.

    While these two renewals of the Met were obviously of the highest quality, I believe that another horse who I just missed was the one who produced the greatest all-time individual performance in the history of the Met – and arguably in the entire history of South African racing. I’m referring to the mighty Politician winning the 1979 renewal under top weight of 58,5kg, launching himself from an impossible position in the last 50m to beat Festive Season and Beau Art..

    Mr Ed, a few years ago you posted a video of this incredible race. Would it be possible to put it up again so that everyone can watch and enjoy? Thank you.

  8. Rian says:

    Goosebumps ED , Thx

    1. Editor says:

      Cheers Rian
      Francois Wolfaardt – tweetalige racecaller of yesteryear

  9. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Wow, wat se die Boere – Hoendervleis..

    Goosebumps stuff indeed.

  10. Leon says:

    Pack Leader to win..That is my Gatecrasher

  11. A T P P says:

    Can anyone tell me what the dull result was in 1964,THE GIANT won that year,then known as the 555 metropolitan handicap,names and numbers if possible…SP?????

  12. Who made the “Donald Trump decision” to enter Snapscan for the 2800m Stayers ?

    She certainly has finished her last 2 races in delightful fashion over 1800m, but 2800m against the boys..no ways.

    They must be racing for a place only and the slow train to China.

  13. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Hi William, interesting race.There are 4 girls in this race, incl the Gold Cup winner with Mr Moore up. Also note Kennedy and Orffer in the mix.

    Imagine this QT…

    The boys does look strong, but where is my other fav horse – Magnificent 7, scratched from The July and nothing since….


    I wonder if Mr. R Mattheyse could grace us with his thoughts about 32Charlie’s 25/1 offered in R 4 ?

    Do you think that is a realistic price with regards his chances ?

    Lastly, in a head-to-head scenario, the bookies have General Franco to beat 32Charlie….is that right Roderick !

  15. Rian says:

    I enlarged the pics of Gatecrasher, not an ounce of fat or any ribs showing, nostrils flaring, brilliant white teeth showing, eyes allert and great muscle tone, beautiful markings
    The amazing thing I noticed was the Jockeys feet placement then and to now ????
    Any Jockeys care to comment

    1. Editor says:

      Hi Rian

      Had a quick chat to GP about your foot in the iron query.

      Garth says he just felt more comfortable with his foot properly in the irons and grew up with that style.

      He points out that some jockeys – Piere Strydom being one example – and some others over the world, use the foot in iron style still.
      He says that the modern trend is to use the big toe or ball of the foot in iron and he tells us that the new age equipment is made of titanium and other metals, often with a special grip – which obviously facilitates the minimal contact.
      Hope that helps.

  16. B Steele says:

    Me Milkovitch. Rod has enough money on 3 2 Charlie to sink a battleship because in his eyes the prize money is not enough.On a serious note the horse is working very well and should have every chance,the draw it seems is why he is such a huge price Don’t leave him out

  17. Rod Mattheyse says:


    As the owner maybe my lenses are rose tinted:

    But the price can’t be right. I have seen worse 25/1 shots before – there is scant respect for the weight of my money – hopefully there will be more supporters on his back than pullers of his tail.If one believes ratings, we should give the Peters’ 90% of the first prize to stay away. Can one trust ratings of horses who have never met before?

    His grass gallop was shown on Tellytrack which to my eye looked good. The Bass’s comments are on their website – I consider them bullish.

    This race has been his target.

    1. Editor says:

      Greg Cheyne is our Personality of the week – published here tomorrow
      He talks about all his rides on Met day – felt that 32C has a big chance


    Thank you for taking the time to respond Rod.

    Hoping it will be a memorable day for you.


    Mr Steele, that is the common sentiment from many owners these days. But Rod can relax, 1st, 2nd, 3rd or even 4th is good money.

    The draw might not be that bad. One year, on Met Day, down the 1200m straight, the going decidedly favored the high numbers using the previous few meeting results.

    The Plunderer, with the worst draw of 1, on the day, won with Maxime Guyon up. At no stage did he ever looked like been beaten.

    The draw bias on Saturday, if any, could swing on its head.


    Something else to consider in race 4 – The Sporting Post tipsters go against their RR’s and fancy General Franco to some extend.

    This is based upon the fact that 8 runners rated under Sarah have the “?” notation next to their RR.

    Sarah taken for a 3rd and a 4th place.

    So then, 32Charlie, should be right there as well, if General Disappointment is to feature.


    Another very NB piece of information punters will never be able to gauge, no matter how many hours of studying form is spent is…. how has Sarah handled her move down to Cape Town ?

    Maybe Mr. Peter could be so kind as to comment, let’s say by Friday lunch time, if he has any concerns as to how well/unwell Sarah as adjusted, after the long trip.

    I mean, the whole country has an indirect interest in the filly as her race falls part of the first leg of the Pick 6.

    1. Editor says:

      Will speak to PP

  22. Tracy Low says:

    This years met horses have a very very long way to go before they can be held in the same conversation as any of those legends mentioned in the article.

  23. Frankie says:

    Frankie Zackey…Rian if bullets can’t stop us surely a virus will not…its going to be a blood bath when Hawwaam opens up the valves,, Richard said after the Classic when Hawwaam went passed me it sounded like a boeing 🤣🤣🤣🤣

  24. jc lee ching says:

    I agree 100%

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