Mike Moon
Horse racing correspondent
2 minute read
25 Nov 2020
2:21 pm

How the Summer Cup stopped a revolution

Mike Moon

The history of South Africa might have been very different if it hadn’t been for the Summer Cup, the highveld’s biggest horse race, which will be run once again this Saturday.

Queen Elizabeth II’s runner Reach For The Moon was a red-hot 2-5 favourite to win the Hampton Court Stakes, but the colt was given a galloping lesson by Claymore, owned by South Africa’s Mark Slack. Picture: iStock.

Racing is generally well-removed from great global events and the political tides that determine our fate. But, just sometimes, it gallops onto the main stage. Such was the case in December 1895, as Cecil John Rhodes was cooking up an insurrection against the Transvaal government of President Paul Kruger. The mining magnate and colonial intriguer, along with sidekick Leander Starr Jameson, hatched a plot for Johannesburg’s gold prospectors to annex their diggings from Oom Paul’s Pretoria-based Boer government. The “Uitlanders” – fortune seekers from all over the world - camped on the Witwatersrand’s newly discovered goldfields and figured they could...