The highs and lows of 2011

Classic winner’s Hungarian influence

Brilliant Cape Premier Yearling Sales Guineas winner, Variety Club (Var), has a pedigree full of classic influences. The colt is a descendant of the Hungarian bred mare, Pompea, who in turn, bred the 1933 Prix de’l Arc de Triomphe winner, Crapom (who himself was a Guineas winner, winning the Italian equivalent).
While Hungary has never exactly been to the fore in terms of consistently breeding world class thoroughbreds, it is a country which has left its mark on the breed. Hungary was responsible for breeding one of the greatest mares of all time in Kincsem, as well as the English Derby winner Kisber. Kincsem herself, not only won all 54 of her starts, but produced the successful sire Talpra Magyar as well as German Derby winner Budagyonge.
Many of the early German classic winners were bred in Hungary. From 1875-1879, the German Derby was won on four occasions by Hungarian bred colts.
Further back Variety Club descends directly from the tap-root mare, Paradigm (dam of two English classic winners and granddam of Epsom Oaks victress Jannette). Paradigm’s famous descendants include Epsom Derby winner Ladas, as well as other classic winners such as Chelandry (1000 Guineas), Neil Gow (2000 Guineas) and Book Law (St Leger). This is also the family of Magpie, a champion sire in Australia.
Ultimately, South Africa’s latest classic winner is a descendant of Tregonwell’s Natural Barb Mare, one of 74 tap root mares in the history of the English Thoroughbred.
If Variety Club is a descendant of prolific producers, the same cannot be said of his sire, Var. That son of Forest Wildcat was the only foal ever produced by his dam, Loma Preata, after died after foaling Var. Loma Preata must be one of the few mares to have a 100% strike record – one foal, one winner, one G1 winner and now a top-class sire!

The overseas influence on SA’s stakes races this year

During the past calender year in South Africa, there have been 187 stakes races run and won. Of those 187 stakes races, 32 races were won by horses bred, or sired, outside of Southern Africa. This means, 17% of the feature races run in this country went to imports.
Races won by foreign bred/sired horses last year include the Vodacom Durban July, Gold Medallion, Gold Circle Derby, SA Fillies Classic, Thekwini Fillies Stakes and Premier’s Champion Stakes. In short, some of our country’s very best races were captured by imports.
Many of the world’s top stallions were represented by stakes winners in South Africa in 2011.
Of the foreign stallions represented by stakes winners in South Africa over the past year,  Pivotal (Amanee, Headstrong), Encosta de Lago (Delago Deluxe, Safwan) and Rock of Gibraltar (Alinga, Gibraltar Blue), Galileo (Il Saggiatore, Igugu) and Singspiel (Potala Palace, Candy Singer) were all represented by two.
The other overseas based sires represented by local stakes winners this year were Black Sam Bellamy (Vengence), Giant’s Causeway (Illumiere), Special Nash (Xilomante), Street Cry (Hollywoodboulevard), Oratorio (Soweto Slew), Mark of Esteem (Ilsanpietro), Not A Single Doubt (Castlethorpe), Oasis Dream (Welwitschia), Refuse to Bend (Ocean of Time) , Dubawi (Happy Archer), Magic Albert (Fighting Warrior), Bernstein (Storm Sagaz), More Than Ready (Gimmethegreenlight), Montjeu (Gorongosa) and Pure Prize (Antious).
With a number of these horses being fillies, there are clearly a number of exceptionally valuable broodmare prospects lurking.

Sad losses of 2011

The past year has seen a number of great horses and top sires pass away, some of old age, but some prematurely and many others in tragic circumstances. None of these champions will be forgotten soon, and many have left a long lasting impact on the sport of kings.
In South Africa, champion sire Jet Master’s death was a sad and untimely blow to the South African racing industry, while the Big City Life’s tragic breakdown in the July was without question one of the dark spots of the year. Sadly, the top-class 2yo of last season, Fighting Warrior, was another fatality this season.
Another great South African sire to die during the year was Al Mufti, a champion sire, and sire of leading sires Captain Al, Victory Moon and Cataloochee. Sad to think, that of three Al Mufti sons mentioned, only Captain Al remains.
Arguably the greatest horses to pass away in 2011 was mighty sire, Sadler’s Wells (ironically enough, grandsire of Big City Life). The 14 times champion in the UK/Ireland left a mighty legacy behind through his sons and daughters.
In North America, leading sire Indian Charlie died recently after a battle with cancer. Just a few months earlier, his champion daughter, Fleet Indian, also passed away. Other international champions to die during 2011 were Shahrastani, Old Vic, Strike The Gold, Kingston Rules, Bering, leading sire and broodmare sire Rahy, and the mighty racefilly and broodmare Miesque. Australian star fillies Hot Danish and Crystal Lily also suffered died this year, sadly neither having produced foals. Mtoto, the best horse ever ridden by SA’s champion jockey Muis Roberts, passed away this year at the honourable age of 28.
While all years see great horses and stallions die, this year seems to have been unusually bad. None of these champions will ever be forgotten by their fans and connections.

Top ten South African races for 2011

1 Summer Cup Dancewiththedevil showed her class, and proved her sceptics wrong with a gutsy win over male rivals.
2 Computaform Sprint Val de Ra destroyed her male rivals with a turn of foot which had to be seen to be believed. A true champion, Val de Ra will continue to give her rivals plenty to think about in the season ahead.
3 Charity Mile Pierre Jourdan brings the crowd to its feet with a gallant win in Gauteng’s big one mile contest, proving that good horses continue to appeal to the masses
4 Astrapak 1900 Not one of the vintage contests in terms of quality, but this former July prep provided a terrific finish in 2011, when Safwan and Golden Chariot dead heated in this G2 feature.
5 SA Oaks Igugu trounces her opposition to become the first ever to win South Africa’s Triple Tiara. She goes on to prove herself a true champion with a win over males in the July, and stamps herself as the heroine of the turf.
6 Diadem Stakes Two brilliant horses, What A Winter and Ebony Flyer, contest this 1200 metre sprint, only for the colt to leave the filly in his wake. What A Winter stamps himself an exceptional sprinter, and will be a tough nut to crack in the remaining Cape features.
7 Cape Premier Yearling Sales Guineas Variety Club proves his doubters wrong with a smashing effort in the Cape’s premier classic, as he demolishes his rivals. The colt plays with a strong field to win by over three lengths.
8 Fillies Championship Princess Victoria stamps herself as a leading filly of her generation with an authoritative win in this prestigious event.
9 SA Fillies Classic Igugu thrashes her rivals to win the G1 race by over ten lengths. It is rare to see a 3yo win a classic by such a great margin, and Igugu looks a great prospect in doing so.
10 Daily News 2000 The Apache stakes his claims as a leading colt of his generation with a narrow win over top 3yos English Garden and Run For It. He later goes onto beat older horses in the Champions Cup.

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