I’ll Have Another
(Photo : Time)
BELMONT STAKES (Grade 1)
Belmont Park, Dirt, 2400m
9 June 2012
I have always said I am the luckiest man on earth, not only because I wake up next to one of the loveliest ladies in Mooi River, not only because I work with some of the world’s most talented horsemen and I get to work with the noblest creature the good Lord ever created, but because the glass doors of my bedroom afford me a view of Giant’s Castle and the World Heritage Drakensberg Mountains. If you believe Nostradamus, or if you have any faith in the Mayan calendar, 21st December 2012 is supposed to be the day of the Apocalypse. It’s comforting then, for those of us who live in the vicinity, that the narrative to the movie “2012” suggests there is salvation in the Drakensberg Mountains, for those of us who live nearby. I guess if there’s any spin-off, Hartford House will be doing a roaring trade come December!
In racing terms, it was perhaps prophetic that the ex Summerhill filly Igugu, should have claimed South Africa’s first Triple Tiara for Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum of the ruling family of Dubai, and for the former electrician, Andre Macdonald, in what was probably the finest statement on the democracy of the turf. Triple Crowns, and by that we mean any Triple Crown, are called by that name not only because they involve three events, but principally for the reverence they hold in the virtual impossibility of winning one. We use the word “impossible” advisedly though, knowing that in South Africa, there has been at least one Triple Crown winner in living memory, and even relatively recent generations can recall Horse Chestnut’s great feat in 1999. While it’s not a matter of distinction to mention it, it was a Summerhill colt, Dangerous Donald, that fell victim to his destructive talents in the final leg, the South African Derby, where he galloped away by an unstoppable 10 lengths.
Which brings us to the purpose of this piece. For the first time in many years, there is a real prospect that both Europe and America could celebrate a Triple Crown hero in 2012, and certainly before 21st December, when all but a few of us are meant to perish. At least this will give us something to cheer about.
Yes, there have been several aspirants for the title in the United States since Affirmed last achieved the Triple Crown in 1978, but this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness ace, I’ll Have Another, looks the real deal, though he won’t have it all his own way, because there are several taking him on who purposely skipped the second leg, so that they could arrive at Belmont Park fresh and ready to fell the giant. The late Summerhill stallion, Coastal, earned his fame (or was it notoriety?) for doing just that to one of the greatest American horses of all time, Spectacular Bid, in the 1979 Belmont Stakes. That epic is renewed this Saturday at 6pm EDT (+- midnight in the old Republic), and I’m sure you will be able to pick it up in the sports news on CNN before you go on bended knee early Sunday. Perhaps we’ll all be celebrating the power of the Lord for delivering us a Triple Crown hero on the historic morning of 10th June.
Back in the Old Country, Camelot told us in no uncertain terms on Saturday, that he has every chance of becoming Britain’s first Triple Crown victor since Nijinsky in 1970. But he’ll have to wait for September to claim that title, when he takes the trek to Doncaster for the St Leger at the marathon journey of fourteen and a half furlongs. The way he finished off the Investec Derby last Saturday, however, tells us the distance will not be an issue, Deo volente.
And finally, speaking of history, your correspondents this morning will be back from their ‘bosberaad’ by Sunday the 10th to entertain the first delegation of Chinese racing officials to come to South Africa. Just a month ago, Irish Thoroughbred Marketing announced a €40billion thoroughbred breeding and racing initiative with the Chinese turf authorities, and it seems that as a fellow member of the BRICS countries, South Africa is the alternate destination of choice. If China goes racing, and they race like they mean it, thoroughbred breeding will once again be the only game in town. Mark these words!