The Gold Standard

Super Saturday brings curtain down in style

Jeppe's Reef

Jeppe’s Reef and team celebrate his Gr1 Gold Cup win

Super Saturday provided a fitting climax to a great season, and proved again that horseracing has plenty to offer in terms of pure thrills and entertainment. The all important yardstick of tote turnover growth provided a big thumbs up. The dampner of the host of unsponsored features remains a challenge for the authorities though.

The Gr1 Gold Cup has never found a good wife brand like Rothmans or Vodacom to adopt it and has roamed from one parent to another over the years like an unwanted child. Last year Ladbrokes left SA with tails between the legs, leaving the event in the lurch. The repositioning of the race in an end of season slot on a major feature menu like Super Saturday was meant to be the carrot to attract the big fish. But it was run without branding this year for the first time in a long time.

While sponsor rands are under pressure in all sporting codes, the signing of a big brand for this major day is now surely a priority in a province that is apparently undergoing a renaissance and makeover with its racing. The day produced great racing and while punters got generally badly hurt with some vicious results, spare a thought for the lucky guy in Cape Town who picked up more than R240 000 on Saturday with his R20 Place Accumulator straight line!

The enthusiastic and energetic Saftote betting executive Vee Moodley was thrilled to inform us that tote turnovers had grown roughly 18% year on year from R33,2 million last year to R39,1million this year. The Kenilworth meeting was abandoned after the fourth race with the track unplayable and this would not have helped matters.

“The Greyville twelfth race turnovers grew some 50% year year on year and the Quartet Pool reached a massive R 700 000 on the last race.The PA Blitz and the Jackpot Quick Mix were unfortunately cancelled due to our rules not allowing a dividend if the 1st or 2nd Leg of an exotic is not run. I have applied for this rule limitation to be amended and am awaiting approval. It was an all round success,” he said. On the track, the day belonged to Mike Bass and his Jallad gelding Jeppe’s Reef, who scored an unlikely Gold Cup win. Or was it?

It was third time lucky in South Africa’s premier staying race for Jeppe’s Reef and he improved dramatically on his previous best of a fifth placing, to win under an elated Robbie Fradd. Bass, who won the Gold Cup previously with the Saumarez gelding Diamond Quest in 2006, modestly paid tribute to the work of his assistant Robert Fayd’herbe and said that if ever the Drakenstein Stud owned and bred Jeppe’s Reef was going to win the big one , it was going to be on Saturday. Jeppe’s Reef’s sire Jallad, was the most successful stallion on the day, producing the winner of this 3200m marathon and the winner of the 1000m Listed Umngeni Handicap, Jade Bay.

That is a measure of the versatility of our now retired champion sire of 2002 and a leading producer of Gr1 winners in SA , that is Gr1 winners from 1000 to 3200m of both sexes. The champagne corks were also popping down Varsfontein way as the sensational Judpot showed his paces as one of our great freshman sire of the last fifty years with yet another Gr1 winner in Along Came Polly in the Thekwini Stakes.

Summerveld based Alyson Wright’s memorable first SA Gr 1 winner with the smart Kochka in the Premier’s Champion Stakes means that Saturday 27 July 2013 will also go down in her life as one of the biggest days of her career.

Sean Cormack was the most successful jockey with a great double on the back to best Jackson in the Gr1 Champions Cup and then a terrific ride on Razzle Dazzle Rose in the Gr2 Gold Bracelet.

Trainer honours were shared, but if anybody had suggested that Mike De Kock and Sean Tarry with 32 runners between them, would not have had a solitary winner, we would have suggested urgent professional help!

But that is what makes racing so interesting.

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