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By Mike Moon

Horse racing correspondent

Classic Day combatants have a point to prove to Mr Equus

Joburg horses left in Cape Town dust in new league tables.

Everyone loves league tables. They are a quick and easy reference, easily understood and central to the fascination many people have with sporting stats and tabulation. Also, it’s often said, “the league log doesn’t lie”, giving us confidence that we know the truth of the matter at a specific moment in a bewilderingly changing world.

Organisers of the Equus Awards, the “Oscars of South African horse racing”, have introduced league tables of what they consider to be the top-performing horses in the country – for the six months leading up to the awards ceremony in August.

No surprises

This might help build ongoing interest in the annual Equus race, but it’ll take the suspense, speculation and surprise out of the final announcement.

The first tables were released on Friday and don’t pack many surprises. What they highlight, though, is the dominance of Cape Town-based horses. We might have vaguely known this was the case, but to see it in merit tabulation drives the point home.

The Cape summer season has just finished, so stats from that part of the world will be more influential. Nonetheless, there were plenty of raiders from other centres this season and one might have expected a better showing from them.

Could the Equus logs be fibbing just a bit?

Eye Of The Prophet

This is of interest ahead of Saturday’s Classic Day at Turffontein, with the running of the second legs of the Triple Crown and Tiara.

The Equus three-year-old colt category is, of course, headed up by the mighty Charles Dickens with 80 points, followed by last week’s Cape Derby winner See It Again, Cousin Casey, At My Command and Royal Victory. Only five names are on the press release.

Two of them, See It Again and Royal Victory, hail from KwaZulu-Natal, but have been based in the Cape and Highveld respectively for campaigns.

But there’s no Joburg horse in sight, not even the winner of Gauteng Guineas and Triple Crown Leg 1, Eye Of The Prophet, who was hiked a chunky 10 merit points for his efforts a month ago.

Royal Victory, with a measly 18 Equus points, is the only one on the new log who is running in Saturday’s Grade 1 SA Classic, which takes a bit of shine off the new “The Championships” branding of the Highveld season.

In the three-year-old fillies category, the top five are Make It Snappy (64 points), Ciao Bella (32), Gimme A Shot (22), Lady Of Power (16) and Feather Boa (16).

Fillies Classic

The latter two are Joburgers (hallelujah!) and are contesting the Wilgerbosdrift Fillies Classic on Saturday.

One presumes the logs will change a lot over the next months and perhaps publication of an initial list should have been a little later in the piece. In the meantime, there’ll be a lot of argument about points allocation for certain races, merit rating rises and falls, opposition quality and the price of eggs.
And maybe that’s good for the game.

On Saturday, Lady Of Power’s form in a Fillies Guineas shock victory will be put to the test, over 200m further in the Fillies Classic.

The horse has changed ownership and trainers in the past month, which can unsettle a young animal, so she won’t find it easy. A huge plus, however, is Piere Strydom in the irons.

By contrast, Guineas runner-up Feather Boa, trained by Stuart Pettigrew, has had a calm preparation for the Classic. She was a bit unlucky in the first leg and is the most battle-hardened youngster in the field.

In the male heat, Paul Matchett-trained Eye Of The Prophet is the lone contender for the Triple Crown after causing a major upset in the Guineas. He, too, will find it tough to repeat, with an array of rapidly maturing young guns to contend with.

However, Matchett knows how to win a Triple and has the phenomenal Rachel Venniker to help him make the next step.

Nate Kotzen’s Royal Victory is an obvious threat, as are Shoemaker, East Coast and Electric Gold.


Race 6: 2 Feather Boa, 6 None Other, 4 Emirate Gina, 1 Lady Of Power
Race 7: 2 Eye Of The Prophet, 4 Royal Victory, 1 Shoemaker, 6 Anfields Rocket