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Equus Stayer Snub – Let’s Make Good!

What's your choice for the informal award?

Since the powers-that-be at Equus decided not to present an Award this year to  Stayer Of The Year, social media and chat groups have been buzzing with comment, mostly adverse, about their lack of insight and care.

As I mentioned in my eNews yesterday, we need to encourage and reward stamina in our industry NOT destroy it, writes John Freeman.

WSB Gold Cup stampede (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

I was at Durbanville races with a bunch of owners yesterday. This was a hot topic.

Justin was incensed enough, without self-interest, to suggest that a media campaign be launched to take issue with the Equus Committee’s seriously flawed judgement which we are happy to support and share.

It’s well presented and thought provoking so please take the time to read and VOTE.

They all agreed to source a proper trophy which will be suitably engraved and presented. I am happy to help, we need to make this extra special and correct this. Lets’ do justice to this. It’s a really competitive field.

I am still trying to make my mind up about who to vote for but I am leaning towards to Marchingontogether.


Justin Snaith felt the Equus Committee had slipped-up in not honouring the breeder, groom, trainer, jockey, owner and most importantly – the horse – in the stayer category this year.

The Equus Committee cited the following reason “it was felt that there was no outright deserving winner in this category.” To discourage owners and breeders not to race stayers is not in the best interest of our sport.

Usain Bolt (photo: hamishNIVENPhotography)

Usain Bolt (photo: hamishNIVENPhotography)

Picture this: Tokyo Olympics 100m final. Usain Bolt is retired, Tyson Gay is injured and Christian Coleman runs below form.

The winner crosses the line in sheer delight fulfilling a lifelong dream. At the awards ceremony the International Olympic Committee decide not to reward him with a gold medal as, in their opinion, they felt his performance was below par.

There has never been a more important time to acknowledge achievements.

The racing community will award a trophy to the winning owner and a cash gift of two thousand rand to the stable hand of the best stayer in South Africa.  We proudly present the four nominees in his category which we felt deserved a special mention and invite you, the fans, to elect the worthy winner:


OUT OF YOUR LEAGUE was just that when producing one of the most phenomenal performances of the season when beating multiple Gr1 winner and Horse of the Year candidate, Got the Greenlight, in the Gr1 South African Derby. This horse gave it his all while making his trainer Fabian Habib an incredibly proud conditioner. This performance was so spectacular that the handicappers felt a 23-point penalty was warranted. Breeder Mr. W. Nel will be delighted with his Elusive Forts achievement along with owners Messrs JJ Habib, Est Late SFG Habib, GJ Nassif, JNassif, NJ Nassif, Miss NK Nassif, Mr WC Nassif & Mrs CNassif & Tri-DealSixteenCC (Nom: Mr ZL Nassif).

MARCHINGONTOGETHER is a son of Pathfork bred by Jagessar Limited. This Gavin Van Zyl gelding had a wonderful season winning three races including two Group 3 features, both over 2400m. The standout being the Track and Ball Derby when beating Gr1 winner, It’s my Turn convincingly. This five year old also romped home by 3.5 lengths in the Lonsdale Stirrup Cup beating a host of highly regarded stayers including Gr.1 Guineas winner Tap O’ Noth. This stayer was beautifully handled by Warren Kennedy in all his wins and proudly owned by Messrs E Budlender,B Bracher,M Bracher,P Rencken,Dr R Katzwinkel,Team G Racing & Purple Kingdom Syndicate (Nom : Mr U Nagadoo)

PATHS OF VICTORY found himself in the winner’s box on no less than four occasions this season. His pinnacle was producing a monumental effort to fight of all challenges to win the Gr3 Gold Cup. In doing so he beat THREE Gr1 winners in It’s my Turn, Eyes Wide Open and Out Of Your League. This was enormous for new sire Noble Tune as well as breeders Rathmor Stud. This was a well-deserved win for owner Mario Ferreira who is a massive contributor to racing. The planning and heartache that goes into producing a Gold Cup is incomprehensible – the reason we breed stamina – a great feat by trainer Gareth Van Zyl. S’Manga Khumalo produced one of the most exciting finishes to bring down the curtain of the season – what an exciting race.

DYNASTY’S BLOSSOM the Queen of the staying ranks and last year’s Gold Cup winner deserves a mention. Her win the Gr3 Gold Vase was full of merit taking on the boys while carrying 56kg’s, not an easy task. Brett Crawford gets this mare at the top of her game, year in year out, for owners Mrs John Magnier, Jagessar Limited (Nom: Mr Alan Cooper) & Maine Chance Farms (Pty) Ltd (Nom: Dr W A & Mrs N Jacobs). This daughter of Dynasty bred by Ridgemont Highlands is sure to produce a serious stayer one day at stud.

SNAPSCAN is an interesting nominee having won three races and is another impressive mare in this lineup. This Drakenstein Stud bred filly is fierce and the boys fear her for a reason – she is all heart. Her victory in the Gr2 New Turf Carriers Cape Stayers against the boys was breathless and a superb preparation by Glen Kotzen. The daughter of Oratorio is as feisty as they come and can hold her head high in this category. Her owners, Chrigor Stud (Pty) Ltd (Nom: Mrs S Hattingh), Drakenstein Stud (Nom: Mrs G A Rupert) & Mr & Mrs A Georgiou, should be proud of their girl.

  • Closes 19h00 on Sunday 20 September 
  • Winner will be presented on Monday 21 September.

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19 comments on “Equus Stayer Snub – Let’s Make Good!

  1. Aidan van Vuuren says:

    Can you believe the ridiculous Olympic 100m analogy they’ve used? The staying horses won their respective feature races and got their “gold medals” in the form of stakes, black type and all the kudos that goes with winning these big races. Surely the Equus Awards are about making a seasonal award for the champions in each category – the lack of a worthy champion in the stayers category this year is the reason the Equus judges chose not to make the award. Also remember that Equus Champions are recognized in horses’ pedigrees for the purpose of sales catalogues in perpetuity. So surely these Equus winners should be worthy of that?

    Also, are we not going to create problems now by offering a cash prize to the winning groom of this “unofficial” award winner? If I were the grooms of the genuine Equus Awards winners, I would be demanding my R2,000 cash prize too!!!

    And finally, since when does a trainer or bloodstock agent have the right to decide who gets awards in the sport? This would certainly not be entertained in any other country!

  2. Rod Mattheyse says:

    So far 1013 people seem to think the trainer and bloodstock agent have every right to make an award.

    Perhaps the Diamond League will be thanking them as what a conundrum they would be in if futures years winner/s don’t match up to Usain Bolt – and they would not be able to award the prestigious award.

  3. Tjaart Venter says:

    I think this is a brilliant idea, as the award exist to be given to a stayer that was the best (maybe not world class for this past season) but the best during the season.
    You cannot just scrap an award , because the possible winner is not as outstanding as previous years.
    Aidan Van Vuuren : I think the “Bolt ” analogy is spot on.
    Thanks to Justin and others to start this initiative and hopefully prevent this scenario in future.

  4. Lazarus Narainsamy says:

    I think the decision not to have an award for the staying ranks is unfair and a bit ridiculous, cos it seems that the panel is saying, ” hey we cant really decide as there is too many too choose from!” Correct me if I’m wrong but isnt that why the panel was put in place , to sift out winner in each category? How would it have looked if they said hey we cannt decide which will be horse of the year as there is too many! Given the fact that summer pudding was declared horse of the year and the staying award scrapped am beginning to wonder weather the panel was put in place to actually award efforts by all involved or just to award a hand full? In my opinion horse of the year should have gone another way as summer pudding has only proven herself against her own sex and own age. To say that she is in the same class like a horse like do it again or rainbow bridge without her having even raced against horses that ran behind them is very sad indeed. I dont doubt summer pudding is a great horse n may yet prove me wrong in the upcoming season but for now I feel she hasn’t proven that she deserves the title of beat ” horse in the land”.

  5. Josip Tomislav says:

    I found this titbit of information with regards to the voting criteria for the 2018 Equus Awards on a Freeman Stallions newsletter #742

    ‘Voting Criteria: The awards are based on graded races and in particular Grade 1 races. As regards the stayer category, the winning horse will be at the discretion of the voting panel. This decision was taken as the only Grade 1 race in SA is the SA Derby, which would mean that this should be the obvious winner based on a single run. This would also have excluded fillies and mares.’

    Two aspects arise:

    1. Had we been told the criteria at the get go, none of the debate about whether Summer Pudding was a worthwhile winner would have been necessary. On grade 1 races. The judges had hardly any choice.

    2. The Racing Association had no right to withdraw the stayers category. The award has never been based on graded one races won by a stayer. It has always been about the best stayer for a particular year.

    Well done to John Freeman for speaking up. The Racing Association should apologise to horse racing for its arrogant and elitist attitude.

    I note that Ms Natalie Turner, CEO of the Racing Association, is Chairman of the Equus Awards. Is this the same person who was never a colour holder and owner of a horse until a few months ago??

    1. Editor says:

      Does the RA CEO position require the incumbent to be a colour holder?

  6. Donald Bradshaw says:

    @ Josip Tomislav , the voting protocol outlined by yourself makes for interesting reading , under this criteria Summer Pudding is the correct winner and a place could have been created for Golden Ducat under the stayers banner as he is a two time Grade 1 winner one of which was the Derby who came away empty handed although if he is a stayer as we understand it only time will tell ?

  7. Donald Bradshaw says:

    Hi Ed , I notice that Golden Ducat is not nominated in the S.P. stayers poll currently being conducted ?

    1. Editor says:

      Hi Donald – the staying category is 2400m plus
      Cape Derby is a 2000m race.

  8. Frankie says:

    Frankie Zackey…Mr Ed any idea why racing starts so early in KZN ? I’ve noticed it’s been like this for a while now…Cheers..Congrats to all the winners and runner ups I feel you took took part last season in the industry are winners barring 4 monsters

  9. Jay August says:

    An understanding of racing and the challenges in the stayers category should instruct common sense. Looking for a Grade 1 win in this category given that the only Grade 1 is a classic and therefore excludes most of the real stayers is simply folly. Who comes up with such irrational thinking?

    But then who am I to question such an expert panel (and moderation), they must know what they are doing. After all simply totalling years of experience and Grade 1’s equates to Champion status in SA!

  10. Oscar Foulkes says:

    I think we can sensibly add to the Olympics analogy. What if Usain Bolt was in the race (or substitute Mo Farah to stick with the long distance theme), but he’s carrying a rucksack weighing 30kg? He runs his heart out, but he gets beaten by a few hundredths of a second.

    He remains the champion on merit, but because of the handicap that has been imposed he gets beaten.

    If we’re going to make the most of this ‘crisis’, it’s not just the awards criteria that needs to be addressed. We need an overhaul of the entire stayers’ programme. It’s going to take time to get this whole thing back on track, but we’re not going to fix it without also looking at the race conditions for our stayers’ features.

  11. Josip Tomislav says:

    On my understanding, the CEO of the Racing Association must be a member of the RA and in order to be a member, the you need to hold colours with the NHRA and you are supposed to own an interest in a horse but because the Board has never passed a resolution declaring what the interest of ownership is, the only requirement is to be a colour holder who owns nothing but colours. Thanks for asking the question as I have realised that the RA is not an owners Association it is a colour holder Association with mainly owners as members.

  12. Graham Martin says:

    The Equus committee were 100% correct in not presenting a Stayer Of The year award for the best stayer! As was stated, most of the staying races are handicaps and we all know what that means! The handicapper will make sure that the winner of a Merit rated staying handicap will NOT win another staying race again! Here’s a question for you. Why was Highland Night able to win the Gold Cup for a 2nd time on the 2nd of August 2003? when it was a GR1 event after having won the previous year. Further more Highland Night was also a runner in that years Summer Cup Gr1 won by Eventuail AND was STILL able to run in a MR 94 HANDICAP at Greyville over 2400m AND WIN! The answer is because after winning his first Gold Cup he was’nt handicapped out of existence, that’s why Jay. Wolf Whistle and Oratory also ran in both Gold Cups and were beaten by Highland Night on both occasions. Amphitheatre was 2nd to Highland Night which was 100% correct on weight difference on their Gold Vase run. You can work it out on 1kg= 1 lenght. It was perfect! The form lines of most of the horses that ran in that years Gold Cup were very consistent, you can check it out yourself.A punter was able to work with these form lines not like today. This years Gold Cup was an absolute disgrace! An absolute LOTTERY. This is what Merit Rating has done to horse racing in this country.

  13. Jay August says:

    Good laugh there Graham. Dual winner under the MR system not the RF system. Now tell me how many dual winners were there under the RF system from 1960 through 1999?

    Just so you don’t get sidetracked, the RF system was not in existence for 100 years in SA as you alleged in one of your previous posts. You seem to always want to find the one example which proves your wisdom while ignoring the 100 other times your exact logic failed to produce the highlighted result.

    How is it that a seasoned gambler like yourself is so emotional about handicapping and gets the analysis of the RF and MR system so consistently wrong?

  14. Graham Martin says:

    Now now Jay don’t get excited! How was the MR SYSTEM implemented in 2003 compared to now, 2020. Highland Night won the Gold cup Gr1 with 50,5kg’s right? A few months later he ran in the Summer cup with 50,5kg’s! Would that be possible with the way the MR system is implemented today? The answer is a resounding NO! And you know that Jay. I did not say that Highland Night won the Gold Cup during the RF system but the way the MR system was implemented at that time was a much fairer way! And by the way i’m not a gambler I’m a speculator. I work with Collateral form which you don’t get much of with the way the MR system is implemented at this moment in time. Also how was it possible that Highland Night could win a MR 94 handicap (which I did mention, not RF ) after winning a Gr1 handicap? Somebody already reminded that the RF was not in existence for 100 yrs so we can put that argument to bed. But somebody did say that the RF was introduced in the 1950’s. But ok we’ll let that argument go. My main argument is the fact that the way the MR system is implemented now is not FAIR! and can destroy a race horse’s career!
    So now to quote a good friend of ours:

  15. Hilton witz says:

    Graham martin have you taken into consideration that there have been a few ACROSS THE BOARD rating increases for the entire horse population since 2003 with the latest one being a 10 point increase ???????

  16. Carla Quintas says:

    How can this vote be fair when we are allowed to vote more than once.Surely there should be a way of stopping people from voting again and again.

    1. Editor says:

      Hi Carla
      Your point is noted.
      The poll was established in good faith by Snaith Racing.
      The exercise has highlighted the public outrage at the omission.
      Repeated voting is an exercise in poor sportsmanship.

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