I Keep Pinching Myself

A big Singapore weekend is behind us

Gareth Pepper

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be a member of the team broadcasting one of the biggest International Gr1 events in the world, surrounded by some of the finest horses, trainers, jockeys and various media, writes Gareth Pepper.

I really am so grateful for this opportunity and often have to pinch myself just to make sure it is true.

Although I miss home, I feel very honoured and proud to be a member of the team here and representing South Africa in Singapore.

I hope that sooner rather than later that things change for the better and our world class combinations of horses, trainers and Jockeys can compete and show the rest of the world what we are really made of

The Biggest

Affleck - back to his best

Affleck – back to his best

Our biggest raceday of the year has come and gone. Although quite a taxing week, it was all so worth it.

Friday’s Guineas saw the brilliant Affleck bounce back to winning ways. In what looked to be the most competitve Guineas field in many years, the star galloper was sent for home early under Michael Rodd.

Michael rode a very good race and made amends for a disappointing second at his last start. He extended  and won a gutsy race.

One of the biggest runs of the weekend was from Jimmy Rea who finished 2nd in the Guineas. Withy many querying his stamina, the exciting 3yo  was restrained to last in a strung out field but when set alight rounding the turn he produced a storming finish with a 400m-finish time of 21.92 secs.

It was a big run from him and he is definitely one for the black book – he is very talented!

Sunday arrived after several events including a glittering Gala Dinner on Saturday evening.

The buzz and excitment was  tangible as I entered the rac course.

Joao Moreira

Magic Joao Moreira

A highlight of the day was Joao Morreira, last to enter the parade ring for the first (after breaking the record for the most winners ridden in Hong Kong the day before) and the crowd erupted.

Chanting his name, Magic acknowledged the crowd and made his way into the parade ring to get down to business. I was priviledged enough to not only witness some of the finest riders in the world, but to interview Joao after winning the fourth race on Divided House.

Speed Dreams

Aerovelocity turns up the heat

Aerovelocity turns up the heat

The Krisflyer arrived so quickly, I could not believe that I was actually about to be part of a broadcast team I once used to watch from afar with dreams and aspirations of being a member.

A dazzling opening few minutes followed by our previews and before we knew it the field had lined up.

Aerovelocity looked the standout and he duly delivered for Zac Purton in a well deserved victory.

Local hope Emperoro Max was game in 2nd and a luckless Lucky Nine was 3rd after winning the race in 2013 and 2015. I interviewed Zac after the race and he heaped copious amounts of praise on the winner, touting him as the bravest horse he has had the pleasure of riding and one that always gave 110%.

Dan Excels

Dan Excel proves too strong for Military Attack

Dan Excel proves too strong for Military Attack

Next up was the SIA Cup and Dan Excel was looking to make history by being the first back to back winner of the race. He did it the hard way and led from start to finish.

He held off a fast finishing Military Attack, who must be commended after it was discovered he had actually pulled both of his front shoes, such a game and classy galloper he was awesome to watch and showed just how special he is. His rider, Zac Purton, was full of praise for him and seemed in awe of the big performance he put in.

John Moore, the winning trainer, was full of confidence when the horses were in the parade ring and declared that the reigning winner was better than last year. I must say I did not see that coming and have never seen so much confidence from a trainer in declaring his horse for an international Group 1. He duly won and Tommy Berry was full of praise for the horse and trainer.

Till next time.

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