Fairer Sex Ready For Another Met Celebration

WSB Cape Town Met - 17h10 on Saturday

Spanning the last quarter of the 1900’s, one could count the female winners of the Gr1 Cape Met on the fingers of one hand.

How times have changed, for over the last dozen years, no less than four members of the fairer sex have captured the Hollywoodbets Kenilworth showpiece.

And what a remarkable quartet that proved to be, for amongst them were two Horse of the Year recipients, a multiple champion and a tough-as-teak globetrotter of note.

With this year’s renewal looming large, and all of Make It Snappy, Marina, Sparkling Water and Rain In Holland carrying the fairer sex flag, it would be fitting if we reminisced about their achievements and current whereabouts.

We go back to 2010 and the mighty Pocket Power’s bid for a record fourth consecutive Met win.

River Jetez

River Jetez – 2010 Met winner

Alas, his quest came to nought, victory instead going to his own sister and stable companion River Jetez. She finally moved from out of the shadow of her illustrious brother when she wore down Mother Russia in the closing stages to garner her first Gr1 glory at the advanced age of six, with Pocket Power finishing third.

Watch River Jetez win the Met:

She was not finished yet.

While her full-brother was denied an international campaign due to his well-documented foot issues, the strapping mare went on to acquit herself with credit at the highest level, on two other continents. Victorious in Dubai’s Gr2 Balanchine and runner-up in both the Gr1 Dubai Duty Free and Gr1 Singapore Airlines International Cup, she crossed the Atlantic to finish third in the Gr1 Beverly D Stakes at famous Arlington racetrack.

River Jetez

Gr1 winner from Jet Master’s second crop River Jetez

Retired to Avontuur Stud at the advanced age of nine, River Jetez became a Gr1 producer with her very first foal, the Var gelding Rivarine, who proved himself a sprinter of note and counted the Gr1 Computaform Sprint amongst eight career victories.

The filly Delta Queen, produced on a similar mating, added to her dam’s record when victorious in the Gr3 Kenilworth Fillies Nursery. Alas, she was sold to famed Australian Arrowfield Stud, where this spring she dropped her first foal, a colt by Lope De Vega, before visiting champion stallion Snitzel.

River Jetez is now 19 years old and as Avontuur Stud manager Pippa Mickleburgh reported: “She is alive and well, feeling her age a little bit, but other than that, she is in good shape. She was rested in 2020 after foaling a Trippi colt, so has no yearling. She has a filly at foot by Vercingetorix and is once again in foal to him.”

The 2012 Met trophy was lifted by arguably one of the finest female runners of recent times, the Mike de Kock-trained Igugu.

Igugu J&B Met

Igugu and Delpech charge to Met glory

Sent off a warm favourite despite an interrupted preparation and having spent an entire week in quarantine, the then Horse of the Year went on to etch her name in the history books as the first filly or mare to complete the Vodacom Durban July / J&B Met double.

Remarkably, that Met triumph was Igugu’s tenth win from a dozen starts and also continued a winning streak of seven consecutive victories, amongst which the July and Triple Tiara.

Watch Igugu’s Met win here:

An international campaign was always on the cards for the Australian-bred daughter of Galileo. However, health issues prevented her from regaining top form, although she did run second in the Gr2 Balanchine and the Listed Rosemary Stakes in Britain.

Sadly, the champion’s broodmare career proved all too brief and was limited to just two foals, both sired by standout Juddmonte stallion Dansili. The first, a filly, never raced, while the second, the colt El Misk, won three times for John Gosden and earned lower black type when second in the Fred Archer Stakes.

Igugu in training at Meydan Racecourse

Igugu in training at Meydan Racecourse (Credit Dubai Racing Club).

After foaling El Misk, Igugu was covered by Invincible Spirit before returning to her birth country. Tragedy struck however, for she died in November of the same year, as did the foal she was carrying.

Four years after Igugu’s success, Ideal World filly Smart Call dusted off a vintage field of male rivals to claim the Met in breathtaking style.

Fresh off a power-packed victory in the Paddock Stakes, the only distaffer in the line-up pounced in mid-stretch and strode home to win with the minimum of fuss, inflicting a 3.50 drubbing on dual Horse of the Year Legal Eagle.

Smart Call wins the Met under J&B Met under JP van der Merwe

This was the fourth win on the bounce for the formidable Amazon, who added her name to a long line of top level gallopers bred and raced by the famed Mauritzfontein Stud, none more so than former Horse of the Year Horse Chestnut, who carried the same Oppenheimer silks to an epic eight-length victory in 1999.  Interestingly, he sired Smart Call’s dam, the American import Good Judgement.

Watch Smart Call’s Met win here:

Voted the Champion older female and middle distance horse of the season, Smart Call too, tried her luck overseas and under the tutelage of renowned British trainer Sir Michael Stoute, capped an English campaign with victory in the Gr3 Hopping Stakes.

On retirement, she spent two seasons in the UK before returning to Mauritzfontein with her first foal, a filly by high-profile stallion Kingman, while carrying a colt to the same stallion.

Like their mom, both are trained by Alec Laird. The filly, now named Call To Glory finished second in her most recent start, while Royal Summons has yet to race.

Island style! Moffat and Smart Call in Mauritius (photo: Alec Laird Racing)

Moffat and Smart Call in Mauritius (photo: Alec Laird Racing)

Mauritzfontein stud manager Mike Sharkey gave us an update on Smart Call: “She’s in fine nick and looks amazing. She has a yearling filly by Gimmethegreenlight which will be retained, and a colt foal by the same sire. She is now in foal to Vercingetorix

History was made in 2018 when Drakenstein homebred Oh Susanna downed an elite weight- for-age field to become the first sophomore female winner in Met history. In a driving finish, the Australian import held off a fast-finishing Last Winter by a half length.

Oh Susanna wins the 2018 Sun Met (photo: hamishNIVENPhotography)

Oh Susanna wins the 2018 Sun Met (photo: hamishNIVENPhotography)

That victory was book-ended by wins in the Gr1 Paddock Stakes and Gr1 Woolavington 2000 and earned her not just the Equus awards as the season’s Champion 3yo filly and Middle Distance Horse, she also garnered the ultimate prize, that of Horse of the Year.

Watch Oh Susanna win the Met here:

Oh Susanna retired to the Drakenstein paddocks a four-time Gr1 winner (she also repeated in the Paddock Stakes at four). Not surprisingly, her first consort was the farm’s champion Trippi, to whom she foaled a filly, while a union with fellow Met winner Futura resulted in a colt foal born this spring (a future Met winner?)

Like River Jetez and Smart Call, Oh Susanna is now in foal to Vercingetorix. We doubt any stallion has ever covered three Met winners in a single season!

On Saturday, three outstanding distaffers will take on the boys: Gr1 Hollywoodbets Durban July victress Sparkling Water, Gr1-placed Gr2 winner Marina and the sensational three-year-old Make It Snappy.

After her Met victory, trainer Justin Snaith described Oh Susanna as “a tough and aggressive horse, the type you want to take on the boys with because she’s got the right attitude”. That’s a trait this year’s female contenders will surely not be lacking.

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