Still Smoking, 44 Years On!

Avontuur Estate Cape Fillies Guineas


1969 Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas – Cilaneum

The countdown continues to the first Gr1 of the Cape’s Summer Of Champions. The R1 million Avontuur Estate Cape Fillies Guineas will be run on Saturday 7 December at Kenilworth.

The leading Cape racehorse and fine wine producers always host a memorable day out to celebrate a great race that has run a long and illustrious road since first staged under the Benson & Hedges banner in 1969 at Milnerton for just R7500. That is a long time ago in anybody’s book. It was the year that Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Mrs Robinson’ took the award for record of the year. Glen Campbell was also all the rage with ‘By The Time I get to Phoenix.’

If none of those get you humming and reminiscing, then you will probably also not recall the Terrance Millard trained Cilaneum’s brilliant win. It was reported at the time that great progress had been made in the Cape by the shift of sponsorship by the United Tobacco Company from a handicap to a new classic, the richest one confined to fillies in the country. Despite the ‘attractive stake’, no visiting fillies arrived and it was left to the cream of the Cape crop to decide whose would be the first name on the roll of honour.

The stake reference is a relevant and interesting one. Particularly since the race will be run for R1 million for the first time this year. Legendary journalist Rupert Langerman reported in 1980 that Mike Bass trained Sweet Chestnut simply outclassed her field, proving yet another worthy successor to the many outstanding fillies that won the race since it was run first in 1969. The eloquent Langerman suggested then that ‘one can only bemoan the fact that it is no longer sponsored and that the stake (raised by R5 000 last year) still stands so far behind that of the Richelieu Guineas. A race of this importance deserves better.’

But back to 1969. Cilaneum was sent out favourite to reverse the Sceptre Stakes result over New Edition, with Eastern Dish the next most favoured. Sarotti set out to make the pace from Amphora, Francaise, Madeira, New Edition, Act of Grace, Eastern Dish and By Night, with Cilaneum tracking her field. This order was more or less maintained and, 400m out, Sarotti was being sent for home just clear of a closely packed field with New Edition, Amphora and Francaise in line. They were chased by Eastern Dish, with Cilaneum improving alongside Act of Grace.

New Edition then drew clear, with Cilaneum putting in a strong finish to head the Prince Tor filly near the line and win by half a length. Eastern Dish was some four lengths off third and Sarotti fourth. Then came Francaise in fifth, Act of Grace in sixth, and By Night took seventh. Parasol and Madeira were trailed off. Owned and trained by Terrance Millard, Cilaneum was ridden by the late Bert Abercrombie with his usual impeccable judgement.

The winner was bred by Birch Bros and was yet another good filly sired by Herculaneum (by Donatello II). Fast forward 44 years from now. You could be regaling whoever is prepared to listed as to who and what won the 2013 Gr1 Avontuur Estate Fillies Guineas. Don’t miss the chance to say, “I was there!” There are a variety of world class hospitality options available on one of the Cape’s premier sponsored days.

Contact Moerieda on [email protected] or 021 855 3450 before 18 November.

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