The curtain comes down on the Cape Summer season at Kenilworth on Saturday with a sumptuous smorgasbord of racing headed by the Jonsson Workwear Gr1 Cape Derby.
Contested over 2000m as opposed to the true classic distance of 2400m in metric terms, the race was first run in 1946 and what an auspicious event it proved to be.
The winner was the Birch-bred colt Feltos, who sprouted wings from a hopeless position in the straight to get up on the post.
Trained by the great Syd Garrett and ridden by Stanley Amos, the colt entered the Derby off a facile victory in the Metropolitan and to this day, remains the only three-year-old to have completed the coveted Met/Derby double in the same season.
The Derby has been won by some extraordinary gallopers and its honour roll boasts the names of such Titans of the Turf as Colorado King, Sea Cottage, Mazarin, Politician and Bold Tropic, while those of a more recent vintage include the champions Dynasty, Jay Peg, Rabiya, Russian Sage, Capetown Noir and Legislate.
That the Derby serves as a springboard to further Gr1 success goes without saying and many of its winners subsequently embellished their reputations in the country’s premier events.
A good number of Cape Derby winners have also gone on to enjoy stallion careers and none have been more successful than 2003 winner Dynasty.
Although he never topped the Sires Log, the former Ridgemont Highlands stalwart was a permanent fixture among the country’s elite and has stamped his authority on the Derby as the sire of a quartet of winners in the space of six years: Jackson (2012), Legislate (2014), It’s My Turn (2016) and Eyes Wide Open (2018). In Crimson King, Legitimate and The Gatekeeper, he has three worthy candidates to make it a record five winners this weekend.
What’s more, his influence now stretches to the next generation, as his son Legislate is the sire of Snaith-trained contender Hoedspruit.
Former champion Jallad has come closest to matching Dynasty’s record with his trio of winners Grande Jete, Rabiya and Russian Sage, in addition to which he also features as the broodmare sire of 2016 winner It’s My Turn and Eyes Wide Open (2018).
Another to have succeeded in that sphere is his contemporary Foveros, the sire of 1997 winner Shah’s Star and broodmare sire of 2006 winner Floatyourboat.
Remarkably, the latter was sired by the mighty Jet Master, who has followed suit as the damsire of 2017 winner Edict Of Nantes and last year’s victor Golden Ducat. It could well be three this weekend, as he is also broodmare sire of a live contender in the Vaughan Marshall-trained Rascallion.
Strange as it may seem, very few fillies have worn the Derby crown. In modern times, only two have managed that feat, and what an exceptional pair they proved to be. The Terrance Millard-trained champion Taima Bluff ripped through the 1980 season by defeating high-class colts Highborn Harry and Quarrytown in the classic before landing both the Natal Derby and Oaks.
She was followed almost 20 years later by the Oppenheimer homebred Dog Wood, who lowered the colours of future Gr1 winner Young Rake in 1999.
The daughter of Fort Wood was the first Cape Derby winner trained by Mike de Kock who, like the legendary Millard before him, has never been averse to letting a talented filly tackle male rivals.
Whereas De Kock already has a treble of Cape Derby winners to his credit – he also saddled the Sheikh Hamdan-owned winners Ertijaal (2015) and Atyaab (2019) – this year’s renewal could be a first for the father-daughter team of Harold Crawford and Michelle Rix, the trainers of ruling favourite Kommetdieding.
A super-impressive winner of the Gr3 Politician Stakes on Met day, this grandson of Fort Wood will attempt to emulate 2010 winner Bravura, who likewise entered the classic with an unbeaten four-win streak in tow.
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