Brilliant racehorses and the very best of their respective generations.The multiple Gr1 and Equus Award winners Princess Victoria and Val De Ra are likely to cross paths from a distance after last appearing together on the Gold Medallion feature bill at Scottsville. The two bright stars are scheduled to make a much anticipated appearance on the Avontuur Stud raceday at Kenilworth on Saturday 3 December.
No gimmicks, no loud live music or wannabe star side-shows. Let’s face it – for the purist and true lover of this sport, nothing beats going racing and watching these serious horses in action.
Genuine champions don’t come around often but South Africa’s premier racecourse is appropriately honoured and privileged to play host to these two brilliant equine females in what is a sensational and opportune scoop for sponsor Avontuur and an injection of fire into the Cape’s Sizzling Summer Season. The R750 000 Avontuur Estate Fillies Guineas is the first Grade 1 event of the summer.
The premier horseracing season in the best horseracing city on the African continent is more of a closely guarded secret than the most well marketed asset in South African horseracing’s treasure trove of action and achievement. The essential issue is that the season has an abundance of quality horseracing to offer but has no definition in terms of a start with real fireworks leading up to a fitting climax. The Avontuur day will provide an explosive launch-pad no matter what course of action the powers-that-be choose. Sure, we all know that the Gr 1 J&B Met day, with its bumper menu of Group racing action, is the highlight, but the season show drags on a bit. Think about it – when did it actually start? The Sizzling Summer Season banner tells us November 2011-January 2012. The reality is that focussed and enthusiastic sponsors are what make the difference between good and truly great racedays, and this will be the case again on 3 December.
Whatever the shortcomings of the overall marketing of the sport of kings, Avontuur will make this a day to remember. They don’t only own the brilliant Val De Ra, whose illustrious sire Var stands at the picturesque stud at the foothills of the magnificent Helderberg, but they also enjoy the distinction of having sponsored the prestigious Gr1 Cape Fillies for five years now . And the honour role of this great race is an impressive one. It includes last year’s winner Ebony Flyer who jumped at prohibitive odds of 9-20 when downing our current horse of the year and Vodacom Durban July title holder, Igugu, in a race that sticks in all of our memories.
With supplementary entries closing today, the 2011 field has attracted an initial entry of fourteen fillies headed by the brilliant daughter of Victory Moon, Princess Victoria, who has pulled a 2 draw. Beaten only once in her six starts, the flying filly is a multiple Gr1 winner and won the recent Gr3 Choice Carriers Fillies Championship over 1400m with contemptuous ease. On breeding she will only get better the further they go. And that must be a frightening thought for any aspirant challenger. What the initial entries lack for in numbers they make up for in quality, and include the Joey Ramsden trained Captain Al filly, Trinity House, who will jump from pole position and who was a scintillating winner of the Gr3 Fillies Nursery in May. She narrowly beat the highly talented Lady Var on that occasion, and the latter takes her chances in the Gr1 thriller in three weeks – from a likely wide draw unfortunately.
Val De Ra is the star on the day’s supporting bill. This ball of fire is now a five year old mare. The Equus Sprinter of the Year has won nine of her ten career starts including two consecutive Gr1 races at her last two outings – the R1 million Computaform Sprint at Turffontein and the R450 000 SA Fillies Sprint over 1200m at Scottsville. Visiting the Western Cape with the powerful Dennis Drier string based at Phillippi, she is undefeated in five starts across the class spectrum over 1000m and will hopefully not scare off the opposition when she goes to post in the Gr2 Tony Taberer Southern Cross Stakes to be run over her favoured trip. This fillies sprint is named in honour of the late Tony Taberer, founder of Avontuur Stud and one of the leading lights of the SA breeding industry over three decades. Val De Ra has not run since her Gr1 victory at Scottsville at the end of May, but reports are that she is doing supremely well at home and will be one of the star drawcards on the day.
So a great day awaits us on 3 December. Visitors are welcome to join the event by booking a seat or a table at R300 pp in the Peninsula Room on the 4th floor. The VIP ticket includes a lavish 3 course lunch buffet, barista station, cheese display and afternoon tea & cake.Families have also been catered for with free entrance into the race course on the day and a full programme of complimentary kiddies entertainment laid on in the picnic area under the shady trees next to the parade ring.
Avontuur General Manager Pippa Mickleburgh has the final word: “ Avontuur is well known for its award-winning wines and some of the country’s best-bred race horses and this event showcases the glamour of racing with the art of winemaking, highlighting the best of both worlds. For information about the bookings or the VIP tickets, please contact Moerieda at [email protected] or +27 21 855-3450. It’s going to be a great day!” she said.
We won’t argue about that!