(Photo : JC Photos / Summerhill Stud)
“The Oracle Speaks”
You have to give it to the Sporting Post, and especially to the man they call “The Oracle”, Matthew Lips. He knows his stuff, and his columns are fascinating.
In this instance, we like him even a little more, for the fact that for tomorrow’s Grade One SA Fillies Classic, his first three choices are all companions who grew up in the Summerhill paddocks. His choices, in order, were Igugu (a R1million graduate of the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale,) Hollywoodboulevard (a R950,000 purchase at the same venue,) and Checcetti (a R320,000 purchase, and a comparative bargain, at the same sale). Unfortunately for us, (as we own a minority interest in Checcetti,) she scratched on Thursday with a viral ailment which hopefully won’t derail her aspirations for the SA Oaks at the end of April.
Mike de Kock has always believed that Checcetti is an Oaks filly, and that has always been her mission, whereas for Saturday, it looks like a straight fight between two of the best fillies the Highveld has seen in some years. Racegoers have been looking forward with justifiable relish to the clash during the Champions season in KwaZulu-Natal between Igugu, Hollywoodboulevard and the Cape champion, Ebony Flyer, and while it looks as though that eventuality remains on course for Igugu and Ebony Flyer, it seems Hollywoodboulevard is to be rested after the Classic and sent to the Cape for their summer season.
As we read it, the long term goal for Team Valor and Anant and Vanashree Singh’s Ebony Flyer is next year’s international version of the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate, while Mike de Kock holds international ambitions for Igugu after an engagement in the Vodacom Durban July.
Meanwhile though, the Fillies Classic, could turn out to be the weekend’s pressure cooker, never mind what’s going on in India right now.
The colt’s version has a deeper look to it, occasioned in all probability by the fact that there is a more open look to the field. Unlike the Fillies Classic, where the two principal protagonists have probably frightened away most others, there are a number of trainers who will fancy their chances against Link Man and Perana over the extra 200 metres for the R2million prize, where there’s added spice in the presence of Vaughan Marshall’s Cape Derby winner, Top Seller, and Charles Laird’s Galileo’s Destiny, who will love every inch of the additional distance. That said, you can’t discard the chances of the two Western Winter colts, Snowdon and Dark Wind, while Sean Tarry has last season’s Grade One winning juvenile, Gold Onyx engaged.
It’s a compliment to the quality of horses produced on this property, that there are some fourteen entries in the five Graded Stakes races with connections with either the farm or its stallions, or both.