The Grand Parade Cape Guineas, due to be run at Kenilworth on Saturday, has a long and rich history and has been won by some of the greatest thoroughbreds ever bred in South Africa.
Earlier Guineas winners include the legends Hawaii, Politician, Colorado King and Empress Club – to name a few. But who have been the most memorable winners of recent times? Here is a personal selection of Guineas highlights over the past two decades.
1. Horse Chestnut (1999)
A horse with strong claims to being the greatest horse ever bred in South Africa, Horse Chestnut’s romp in the 1999 Guineas saw the Fort Wood colt streak home by over seven lengths. The Guineas proved a stepping stone to even greater things for Horse Chestnut, who went on to create history in the J&B Met before recording a rare win in the South African Triple Crown. Horse Chestnut was exported to North America, where he romped home in his sole outing – the Gr3 Broward Handicap – before an injury forced his retirement to stud. He has again been enjoying success of late, both as a sire and as a broodmare sire – maternal grandson Ocho Ocho Ocho is currently rated a likely fancy for the 2015 Kentucky Derby.
2. Jet Master (1998)
An enormous and hugely charismatic horse, Jet Master triumphed over a star studded field, when he won the Cape Guineas of 1998. Among the beaten horses in that race were subsequent Horse Of The Year Classic Flag (2nd), Cape Derby victor Resfa (3rd) and star filly Igreja (4th). The Guineas was one of eight grade 1 races won by Jet Master, who was South Africa’s Horse Of The Year in 1999.
Retired to stud, the great horse became a legend in the breeding shed. He has topped the South African general sires log on seven occasions to date, and is responsible for champions Pocket Power, J J The Jet Plane and Mythical Flight, to name a few.
3. Variety Club (2011)
The recently retired Variety Club put up an awesome performance when he pulverized a top class field in the 2011 Guineas. The imposing chestnut swept clear to register a three and a half length win over a field which included champions Princess Victoria and Heavy Metal, as well as subsequent L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate hero Gimmethegreenlight. Variety Club, who was named South Africa’s Horse Of The Year two years in a row, retired to stud with five Grade 1 victories to his name, and also ended his career rated one of the world’s greatest racehorses. A further testimony to the greatness of Variety Club can be seen in the performance of brilliant Hong Kong performer Able Friend. A devastating winner of Sunday’s Hong Kong Mile, Able Friend suffered a four length thrashing at the hands of Variety Club, when finishing second to the mighty chestnut in the Champions Mile earlier this year.
4. Captain Al (2000)
A son of champion sire Al Mufti and broodmare of the year Off To War, Captain Al went into the 2000 Guineas as a 7-1 shot behind the well fancied visiting contenders, Badger’s Coast and Glamour Boy. However, the Vaughan Marshall trained bay prevailed by three parts of a length from subsequent SA Classic hero, Glamour Boy. Further back in the race came dual classic winner, The Sheik (Cape Derby, SA Guineas), while the disappointing favourite, Badger’s Coast, would go on to beat older horses in the J&B Met that same season.
However, it is Captain Al’s stud record which ensures his place among the more important Guineas winners in recent years. His record of six straight titles as champion sire of 2yos is phenomenal, and pays tribute to his great consistency as a stallion. Captain Al is also shaping up to be a major broodmare sire, with his daughters providing a welcome outcross for Northern Dancer and Mr Prospector line stallions.
5. Bushmanland (1995)
While Bushmanland’s overall record does not place him amongst the elite Cape Guineas winners, he managed to defeat a truly outstanding field when victorious in 1995. When scoring an upset at 20-1 in the Guineas of his year, Bushmanland accounted for a field of unusual depth and quality – even for a Cape Guineas. Among the beaten runners were Special Preview (Champion), Counter Action (Gr1 Queen’s Plate), Amberpondo (Gr1 Champion Stakes), Western Rocket (Gr1 Cape Derby), Shepherd’s Moon (Champion), La Fabulous (Gr1 J&B Met), Shoe Express (Gr1 Mercury Sprint) and Tickets and Tax (Natal Derby). Four colts in this field went on to stand at stud, and the 1995 Cape Guineas will be remembered as a truly exceptional field.
6. Jay Peg (2007)
One of just a handful of horses to win both the Cape Guineas and Derby, Jay Peg also went on to be named Equus Champion 3YO Colt of his year – despite suffering defeats in his final three outings as a sophomore. However, Jay Peg’s overseas campaign more than entitles him to a place among the elite Cape Guineas winners. The colt, thanks to a superb ride from Anton Marcus, put up a magnificent effort when victorious in the 2008 Gr1 Dubai Duty Free (where he accounted for no fewer than 12 individual Grade 1 winners from all parts of the globe) and followed that up with a convincing score in the Gr1 Singapore Cup, before retiring to a successful stud career at Klawervlei.
7. Capetown Noir (2012)
Regarded as a near certainty by many punters for the 2012 Guineas following a luckless defeat in the Gr2 Selangor Cup, Capetown Noir duly lived up to the hype in romping home to a three and a quarter length win in the race – and reversed positions with his Selangor Cup conqueror, King Of Pain, in the process. The magnificent looking colt, truly a jaw dropping specimen, went on to complete the Guineas/Derby double when scoring a half-length over recent Gr2 Vasco Premier Trophy hero Dynamic in the Investec Cape Derby of 2013. He trained on well, and put up a magnificent performance to win the 2014 Gr1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate of 2014 – a win which netted Capetown Noir an Equus title of Champion Miler last season. He has since been retired to stud.