While the glory of their historic 2018 Sun Met victory with the magnificent Oh Susanna was not to be repeated in 2019, the Drakenstein Stud team can look back on a Cape Summer Season with pride and a sense of outstanding achievement as leaders of a royal pack.
When Gaynor Rupert stepped on to the Equus stage to collect her new SA Champion Owner award in August last year, it was a benchmark achieved in just fifteen years with her homebreds – and most of them fillies.
And Mrs Rupert’s Drakenstein Stud recently moved into 50th position from #73 on the list led by Coolmore partners on the widely respected TRC World Rankings.
The 2018/19 Cape Summer Season was again the perfect stage to showcase the enormous contribution of a woman behind a team that has become a dominant force and household name in SA racing.
The newest member of the new look Kenilworth Racing property committee, Gaynor Rupert has evolved from horse-lover, to owner as early as 1986, to a breeder of champion racehorses, and now an office-bearer in relatively short time.
And our summer season that ended with a buzz and the aroma of prawns last Saturday underscored the dominance of the famous blue and white flag. And as if to do their bit for the curtain call, Drakenstein bred the first three home in the day’s topliner, the Gr2 Diadem Stakes.
The name L’Ormarins derives from the village of Lourmarin in Provence, France, which was the home of Jean Roi, who emigrated to the Drakenstein Valley of the Western Cape in 1688 and was among a group of French Huguenots who received land grants from the Dutch East India Company. Roi named his land after his hometown and planted thousands of grape vines in 1694.
After centuries of winemaking on the land, the estate was purchased by the Rupert family in 1969. In subsequent years, parts of the property were restored and state-of-the-art facilities established, and L’Ormarins has earned more than 70 trophies and 450 medals for its wines.
Today a home to champion racehorses, Drakenstein Stud Farm comprises 130 hectares of land situated on the lower slopes of the L’Ormarins Wine Estate.
They stand 6 stallions with their first ever, and Mrs Rupert’s favourite and past stallion of the year Trippi heading an impressive roster that includes international star Duke Of Marmalade, exciting What A Winter, Philanthropist, Futura and new man and son of Trippi, Gold Standard.
During the past Cape Summer Season, Drakenstein bred three Gr1 winners and six feature winners in total.
While every Gr1 is a highlight, the glorious victory by What A Winter star Clouds Unfold in the Majorca Stakes, to give her treble Equus champion sire a historic first Gr1 success, was the stuff of dreams.
The Majorca Stakes has been a first league stomping ground for the very best of the fairer sex in South African horseracing history with the likes of star gallopers Fast Piece, Met winner Olympic Duel, July dead-heater Dancer’s Daughter, the top-class Ebony Flyer and in more recent years Dynasty star Beach Beauty dominating the honour roll.
Clouds Unfold is out of Montelissima, a Montjeu half-sister to Listed Summer Juvenile Stakes winner Arria and displayed her classic versatility after having won the Gr2 Sceptre Stakes on Day 1 of the LQP festival just three weeks earlier.
Drakenstein’s 2018 Met winner Oh Susanna won the R1 million Cartier Gr1 Paddock Stakes and the 4yo daughter of deceased Darley champion Street Cry (Machiavellian) took her Gr1 tally to four with a bright future ahead of her.
The only Drakenstein bred Gr1 winner not to run in the blue and white was the Snaith’s star speedster Kasimir, a 4yo son of Captain Al, who became the first horse since the great Flobayou to complete the Gr2 Cape Merchants- Gr1 Cape Flying Championship – Gr2 Diadem treble when rounding off his dream summer on Saturday.
To put the achievement into perspective, champion Flobayou, who was trained by Sun Met-winning trainer Eric Sands, registered the treble twice in succession in the 1994/1995 and the 1995/1996 seasons.
Kasimir looks well on target as an early favourite for the 2018/19 Equus Champion Sprinter title and will have the Gr1 Mercury Sprint as his target this SA Champions Season.
The crowning achievement for the Rupert team beyond the Gr1 successes has to be another outstandingly successful L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Festival – the only two day racing festival in South Africa to have stood a test of time and an internationally acknowledged highlight of the glorious Cape summer racing season.