It All Started In 1969

The Cape Fillies Guineas is always a great spectacle

The running of the R1 million Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas at Kenilworth on Saturday is one of the highpoints of the Cape Summer Of Champions.

We look back at the first running.

Terrance Millard saddled no less than 9 Cape Fillies Guineas winners, including the very first running of the race – the 1969 Benson & Hedges Cape Fillies Guineas – with a filly called Cilaneum.

First Cape Fillies Guineas winner - Cilaneum

First Cape Fillies Guineas winner – Cilaneum

Great progress was made in the Cape at the time 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.

Read Saturday’s preview.

Despite the attractive stake, no visiting fillies arrived for the first running and it was left to the cream of the Cape crop to decide whose would be the first name on the Roll of Honour.

Cilaneum was sent out favourite to reverse the Sceptre Stakes decision 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, two out, Sarotti was being sent for home just clear of a closely packed field with New Edition, Amphora and Francaise in line, closely followed 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 fifth, Act of Grace sixth, and By Night seventh.  Parasol and Madeira were trailed off.

Terrance Millard

Terrance Millard

Cilaneum was a chestnut filly bred by the Birch Bros.

She carried Millard’s grey and black silks and was piloted to victory by Bert Abercrombie.

Mr Millard recalls:

“It was exciting to win the first running of the race and even nicer that I had her on lease. She was a typical Birch filly – sound as iron and beautiful to train. And she took a lot of racing. I was doing okay at the time, but to have a filly like her that could earn regularly was wonderful. She won me a lot of races, I was very lucky to have her. She had a very short burst and then she’d stop, so she had to be held up and only asked at the very last minute. She was perfect for Bert to ride and he got it exactly right and they won the first Fillies Guineas. Two weeks later was the Paddock Stakes which was going to be very difficult for her as she was more of a sprint/miler. Because of the weights I got Duncan Alexander to ride – he was a lightweight that rode the same as Bert. He rode a wonderful race and put her head on the post at precisely the right time.”

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