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Friday
Mar262010

IMBONGI, THE DUBAI DUTY FREE AND THE MEANING OF ONE

dubai duty free imbongi saddlecloth 1

Saddlecloth number one for Imbongi
(Image : Summerhill Stud)

$5,000,000 DUBAI DUTY FREE (Gr1)
Meydan 27 March 2010

When it comes to the big races of the world, it’s always an honour to be awarded the number one saddlecloth, particularly in an international field. That’s the fate of our man Imbongi, who heads up the field for the time-honoured $5million Dubai Duty Free (Gr1) tomorrow evening (17:55 pm local time Channel 232). No race of this magnitude is an easy picking, the prize money alone guaranteeing the attraction of some world class competitors. Imbongi will have to cope with the formidable claim of Luca Cumani’s charge, Presvis, a dual international Group One winner, the Hong Kong Champion Good Ba Ba, and the top American contender, Courageous Cat, among several others with serious talent.

Let’s not forget though, that local buyers missed their chance to get their claws on Imbongi as a Ready To Run Sales candidate a few seasons back, off a reserve price of just R80 000. That he went on to become South Africa’s Champion Three-Year-Old Miler was just a precursor to what’s happened since. In 2009 he showed glimpses of what we might expect at the Dubai Carnival with a convincing win in England’s Group Two Criterion Stakes at racings headquarters, Newmarket. Injury saw him consigned to Dubai for the duration of their punishingly hot summer, but his form at the Carnival reminded us of his adaptability. Bred and raised in Zululand where the climate ranges from minus 5 in the dead of winter to thirty something at the height of summer, Imbongi is as resilient to the elements as he is to the rigours of racing, evidenced by his being proclaimed the Victor Ladorum of the Carnival, with earnings nudging R2million.

Tomorrow evening though, he finally gets his reward. A line-up in one of the world’s most prestigious horseraces, and the number one saddlecloth tells us he’s earned it.

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