Flying High

The all-powerful two-man ‘Awards Committee’ of the Cape Breeders Club caused a bit of controversy late last year, when it succumbed to hubris. It picked J J The Jet Plane as the Cape Breeders’ Horse of the Year over the official Equus winner Irish Flame.

The decision was based on ratings achieved. J J was unbeaten in two starts, recording a 118 on the Award’s Committee’s scorecard both times, winning without opposition, while Irish Flame’s highest score was a flattered 110 (his wide-margin SA Derby win). For interest, the official handicapper finished the season with J J on 120, and in the dying days of the last month of the season upped Irish Flame from 113 to 119, following his Vodacom July second (the officials put up July winner Bold Silvano from 112 to 120 at the same time, which makes you think).

The impression is that when rating the best horses, the great minds think alike. Sort of.

Thing is, the Equus awards committee didn’t see it that way. Case of too many cooks spoil the broth?


Next we knew is that J J did everyone proud with the big win in Hong Kong in December. And now, after a little Tapeta-induced hiccup, he seems on song again in Dubai, where World Cup Night 2011 beckons. Big time.

It’s a pity that Irish Flame’s performances in Dubai have left question marks, although admittedly things didn’t go his way the three times he ran (rated 109, 109, and 107 by English rating organisation Raceform). He might still make amends.

Meanwhile, his July conqueror Bold Silvano verily bloomed in the desert. English Raceform wrote this, while rating Bold Silvano 119+: “only had to be nudged along by Christophe Soumillon to go clear early in the straight, and was then gradually eased off from fully a furlong out, with his rider showboatingfor the final 50 yards or so. He was value for at least treble the winning margin, and although edging right late on, both horse and rider had lost concentration by that point. He was last seen winning the most prestigious race in South Africa, the Grade 1 Durban July in which he defeated the likes of Irish Flame and River Jetez, both of whom have run well in Group company at this year’s Carnival, and his official rating of 120 was the highest any of these could boast. However, few could have expected him to win in such style, especially as he was only around “85% ready” according to Mike De Kock. He clearly relished the Tapeta surface, though, and while the World Cup will be a greater test, it could take a special performance to deny him.”

But now Bold Silvano also finds himself in a spot of bother, having to come into the big World Cup race off a ‘slight’ injury and somewhat of a forced lay-off.

Such set-backs are scary stuff. You have to wonder how much jockey Soumillon’ careless manoeuvre (looking sideways at the big screen for opposition at Bold Silvano’s last win) has to do with the injury (Bold Silvano seemed to duck suddenly, shifting, right at the same time).

We hope like mad that all be alright on the night.

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