The panel who determines the Highveld Feature Season’s Awards for 2016-17 will not have an easy time of it because not one horse won more than one Grade 1 feature race during the season. Horse Of The Season must have been a hard choice!
On the Highveld, the season is split in two, with the first half coming in spring and the other in autumn.
Nine Grade 1 features are held including two of the “Big 4” on the SA racing calendar, the R2-million Sansui Summer Cup in November and the R4-million Premier’s Champions Challenge on Champions Day, which was held last Saturday.
Geoff Woodruff won both the Summer Cup and the Champions Challenge, the first with Master Sabina and the second with unsound Deo Juvente, who finally showed his true colours in an overdue win at the highest level.
However, if the Champion Trainer award is based on feature-race stakes, Sean Tarry will win. Tarry recorded two Grade 1 wins with Legal Eagle winning the HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes and Al Sahem taking honours in the SA Derby.
He also had 11 placed runners in Grade 1 races. His feature-race runners, excluding Non-Black Type features, earned nearly R7.4 million – R4.3 million in Grade 1s.
Woodruff also sent out three Grade 1 place getters and brought home R3,4 million in Grade 1 stakes – around R7,1 million for all features excluding Non-Black Type.
Mike de Kock earned most in Grade 1s, with his runners earning nearly R4.7 million.
His overall feature-race stakes was about R6.8 million.
Jockey Callan Murray was the most successful Grade 1 jockey, with four wins during the two seasons, including the Champions Challenge.
The 20-year-old’s other wins came courtesy of Heavenly Blue in the SA Classic, Mustaaqeem in the SA Nursery and Rafeef in the Computaform Sprint.
All three are trained by De Kock.