There’s real quality on display at the Champions Day on Saturday, which brings the curtain down on the Gauteng racing season. The main event has produced a mouth-watering situation whereby it sees three of the top four in the ante-post betting for the Vodacom Durban July take each other on over 2000m, and the result will affect the July betting come Monday.
There are also seven feature races on the 10-race programme and the Pick Six pool is expected to top R12-million. It’s a tough day’s racing for the punters but with large pools, should you catch a percentage of the P6, place accumulator and the exotics like the bipots, trifectas and quartets then you’ll be smiling all the way to the ATM.
On the flip side, it also shows the trouble racing is in.
In the main event, Gotthegreenlight, last year’s Durban July runner-up, takes on Summer Pudding and Malmoos, both of whom have only been beaten once in their careers. They’re all champions.
It’s without doubt one of the races of the season, and that includes what we’ve seen in the Cape where I have previously written that I feel the overall standard, from maidens through the divisions to the feature races, has the most allround depth of horse quality in South Africa.
As an owner myself, my heart skips a beat when I see the calibre of Gotthegreenlight, Summer Pudding and Malmoos go eyeball to eyeball over 2000m in a Grade One event. That’s the pinnacle of racing. However, my heart also sinks when I see that the overall prize money for both the Champions Challenge and the Computaform Sprint, which is billed as the crowning moment of the best sprinter in the land, is R750 000 each.
First prize in both events is R450 000, with third having a R75 000 stake.
Owning a horse – which obviously starts with buying it – is not a cheap exercise and one would have expected that when it comes to Grade One level there’s a financial incentive for owners to get involved. If you arrive at a National Sales with R450k to burn then you’re likely to pick up a beautifully-bred individual, but they’re nowhere near the top price, nor is there a guarantee of it being a star.
Winning a maiden gives a thrill, and winning a couple in the handicap divisions pays the monthly installments. But once you get to Grade One level you’d expect the sport to reward those who have helped keep it afloat in these tough times.
Onto the race itself and the handicappers have their work examined in the main races. They’ve ranked Summer Pudding a 129 in the merit ratings, followed by Malmoos with 125 and Gotthegreenlight with 124. All three are racing over an ideal distance for them and Summer Pudding and Malmoos receive a 2.5kg sex and weight for age allowance from Gotthegreenlight.
If the handicappers know their beans, then the result should be: Summer Pudding, Malmoos and Gotthegreenlight. If only racing was that easy!
Similarly, the Computaform Sprint at the weights, should see a close finish featuring True To Life, Chimichuri Run and Rio Querari but I have to go with my conviction about the standard of the Cape horses and therefore go with the champion sprinter from that province, Rio Querari.
Full race day selections:
Race 1: 5-8-1
Race 2: 11-1-2
Race 3: 9-5-4
Race 4: 9-6-2
Race 5: 8-9-5
Race 6: 1-4-6
Race 7: 2-9-1
Race 8: 7-8-1
Race 9: 5-1-7
Race 10: 8-1-14
Photo of Summer Pudding: Chase Liebenberg