How much have you forgotten?

My task for this week was to do a retrospective on 2011. So, being an organized sort of a person, I thought a list would be a good place to start.  The interesting thing about listing things chronologically is that you suddenly realize just how much you’ve forgotten. And no wonder everyone is feeling a little tired at the moment – it’s been a heck of a year, both here and abroad, with perhaps more then our usual share of ups, downs, laughs and mixed emotions. Robyn Louw looks back.


January brought us the Graham Beck reduction sale and victory to Mother Russia in the 150th Queens Plate. I was pretty pleased to be on track not only for a fabulous day’s racing, but to see the debut of Gimmethegreenlight, who has been such a fixture on our cards this season. On 23 January, the Independent newspaper ran a rather premature page of results for the J&B Met, crowning Zebra Crossing the winner for 2011. Oh well. We saw the inaugural Cape Premier Sale at the ambitious and rather fantastic CTICC, with some fantastic sale lots and prices which got everyone’s blood up for the (real) running of the J&B Met on 29 January. Past Master with his big white face and enigmatic connections walked off with the accolades and speaking of the charismatic Mr Adams, January also saw his letter to GC members with Resolution 12 asking people to vote for change and support a split from KZN. Hotly followed by Mr Moga Pillay’s objection to the same. We also saw one of SA’s greatest champions retire from the racing stage when Pocket Power said farewell after the Met.


Although short, February packed a mixed bag. Retired champion Winter Solstice was struck down by lightning in his field at Drakenstein Stud. Abroad River Jetez flew the SA flag high by winning the Gr2 Ballanchine in Meydan on 18 Feb. Back on SA soil, apprentice Athandiwe Mgudlwa equaled Muis Roberts’ achievement of winning all four legs of the Jackpot at Scottsville on 27 February. It was the same day that Igugu started her onslaught on the Triple Tiara by winning the Gauteng Fillies Guineas. Sadly February ended on a low with an outbreak of African Horse Sickness.


March was another turbulent month. We lost Al Mufti, who passed away at the great age of 25 at his home, Ascot Stud. This was followed a few weeks later by the death of one-time SA stallion Medaaly at his home at Badger Hill stud in Ireland. But bringing some cheer was Igugu’s second title on her Tiara trail when she won the Gr1 SA Fillies Classic by a facile 10 lengths and the little horse with the big heart – super star J J The Jet Plane making a late charge to win the Al Quoz Sprint at the Dubai World Cup. This was all played off against the backdrop of a massive tsunami wreaking havoc in Japan.


April was a bad month, kicking off with 2 high-profile fatalities in the Grand National. There was upheaval at the TBA with the resignation of some of their big hitters. Kimberley lost a diamond with the sad loss of Peter Miller. On 26 Sadler’s Wells passed away and 28 April brought more misery with news that J J the Jet Plane had sustained a suspensory injury. However, we did have a royal wedding to lift spirits as well as a new SA princess when Igugu galloped her way into the history books by winning the Gr2 SA Oaks, lifting the Triple Tiara title at the same time.


Fortunately there was some good news in May. Summerhill welcomed a new resident in Barry Irwin’s exciting looking stallion, Visionaire. The Gr2 KRA Guineas was a bit of an odd race with lots of argy bargy and Solo Traveller emerging the victor, but Link Man, amongst others, coming off second best with a lay-off inducing injury. Pierre Jourdan made a triumphant return from his injury with an exciting second in the Pinnacle Stakes at Turffontein, boding well for things to come. River Jetez again rose to the occasion in the Singapore Airlines International Cup, finishing just half a length back from Herman Brown-trained Gitano Hernando. Mr Crabbia’s fabulous Rocket Man and the equally fabulous Felix Coetzee brought home the honours in the Gr1 Krisflyer International Sprint.


In June, local well-known vet Dr John McVeigh attended the International Summit on Race Day Medication at Belmont Park where he presented a paper identifying a genetic link to EIPH (equine induced pulmonary haemmorhaging / bleeding). The AHS outbreak was declared officially over and the Tote announced that they would be paying out to 6 places on the 2011 Vodacom Durban July.


July day 2011 was an emotional one for South African racing and the horrible and very public loss of Big City Life will forever mar the day for most. However, we also celebrated the triumph of our racing jewel, Igugu and a fantastic effort from the gallant Pierre Jourdan in the main race, as well as a career highlight for Cape trainer Carl Burger with his win in the Gold Vase with Grey Cossack for Braam van Huyssteen. A personal highlight was seeing In A Rush winning the Gr3 EC Champion Juvenile Cup on 17 July. The races for the champion jockey and champion sire titles reached fever pitch. Ian Jayes made one of the biggest impacts of the year by having his race day interview pulled from the Telly Track replays. International news saw the last launch of the space shuttle Atlantis on 8 July and Anders Behring Breivik massacring 77 people in Norway on 25 July.


The anti-bleeding race day drug Lasix had caused hot debate internationally and August saw the landmark decision by the American authorities to ban it from graded races for 2 YO’s for 2012. Ian Jayes published his controversial letter to the Operators and, shock horror, actually received a response from Riaan du Plessis. August also hosted the Equus Awards, with highlights being the announcement of a R250k prize to the 2012 champion jockey, courtesy of the generous people at Klawervlei and a very handsome addition to my display cabinet with a beautiful trophy from Racing South Africa for the media award for print. The Citizen newspaper also stepped in as headline sponsors for the 2011 International Jockey Challenge.


September saw the opening of the Randjiesfontein polytrack, Mahbooba made short work of the field in the Listed Aqlaam Godolphin Stakes at Newmarket and The Mouseketeer walked off with the richest sand race of the year, the Gr2 Emerald Cup. Equimark closed up shop and Cazador, now renamed CTS was launched. It was also the 10th anniversary of 9-11.


October was another mixed month, kicked off when Steve Jobs took the final bite out of the apple on 5 October 2011. Joey Ramsden started his reign of triumph when Variety Club stormed to victory in the Gr3 Matchem. Ebony Flyer made her long-awaited return to the track when she demolished her opposition at Durbanville on 15 October. A few days later, Andrew Fortune and Winter Dynasty filled pages of cyberspace with their controversial second placed ride. New Zealand triumphed over France in the 2011 RWC, Muammar Gaddafi was killed in Libya, President Barack Obama promised to withdraw all US troops from Iraq by the end of 2011 and the list of visitors for the Jockey International was finally announced.


November was a watershed month for SA racing and breeding with the tragic loss of Jet Master. It was a big month for racing administration as well with Gold Circle voting to de-merge on 14 November as well as the Gambling Review Commission’s Report in Parliament. It proved to be a heck of a month on our tracks too. The international visitors treated us to a ding-dong competition and kicked our butts with a smile on their faces. However, they made it so much fun that we somehow enjoyed it too. Pierre Jourdan won the Peermont Emperors Palace Charity Mile, Mike Azzie came over all emotional about Potala Palace and the grey ghost Shades of Indigo stole the Gr2 Merchants down in Cape Town. Silver Flyer won the hotly anticipated Dingaans showdown, Dancewith-thedevil raised the roof with her win in the Summer Cup, Variety Club put the sizzle into the Cape Summer with his win over a mile in the Selangor and a ridiculously exciting day’s racing for the Avontuur Fillies Guineas with victories from Val de Ra and the flying black Princess Victoria. South Africa sent a delegation to the SA-UAE Business Forum to negotiate progress on our export protocols. November also marked the end of the Cape Hunt & Polo Club’s long tenancy at their long-time home in the middle of Durbanville racecourse. And the racing world was also treated to brand new talent, Mark Boylan who serenaded the crowds at this year’s Breeders Cup.


December has been another month of stupendous racing with Tales of Bravery a gallant winner of the Jet Master Stakes, Super Elegant making a popular winner for Piet Steyn and Grant van Niekerk. What A Winter and Ebony Flyer went head to head in the Diadem Stakes and Variety Club rocked racing fans by winning the CPS Cape Guineas by 3.25 lengths and making off with the wonderful new trophy. This was his second win over a mile and for the doubting Thomases who said Var’s don’t train on, be afraid. Be very afraid. The first of Trippi’s SA progeny debuted with the very talented looking Agra winning her first outing on 17 December and I for one am looking forward to seeing more of his progeny on our tracks in the coming season.
Scotfreeracingwebsite will sadly be closing its doors at the end of December. Some will no doubt miss it more than others, but it is sad that we are to lose such a vibrant and vital part of the great racing debate.

I don’t quite know where to fit him in, but one can’t do a 2011 round up without mentioning the mighty Frankel.
On a personal note, 2011 has been one of great highs as well as lows. I saw the first win in my silks. I retired my first race horse. I met some unbelievably interesting, exciting and generous people and some, frankly just plain unbelievable ones as well.
My thanks to everyone who touched (and occasionally shoved!) me this year. Change isn’t always fun or easy, but is necessary to grow. Thanks for the laughs, the lessons and the law suits. Thanks for the challenges. Thanks for the memories. Thanks above all, for the horses. May I wish you all the most fantastic, exciting and challenging 2012.

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