Mike and Norma Rattray’s Ideal World champion Rainbow Bridge was crowned SA Horse Of The Year at the virtual Equus Awards broadcast on Tuesday evening, in one of the most closely contested tussles for national accolades seen in many a year.
In a world where black-ties and fascinators have been replaced by booms and technology, for the second consecutive year SA racing’s ‘Oscars’ was broadcast from a television studio.
The hosts on the evening were Clocking The Gallop’s Neil Andrews and Kaizer Chiefs Marketing Director and racehorse owner, Jessica Motaung.
The initial consensus is that the show was polished and efficient and that the Equus panel – with a collective 175 years experience between them – of Graeme Hawkins, Alistair Cohen, Andrew Harrison, Jack Milner and Stan Elley.
It was good to hear interviews with the likes of Lyle Hewitson, Justin Snaith, Graeme Hawkins and Eric Sands, and while it will never replace the long evenings of old friends, many beers and bad dancing, it remains an important event on the calendar.
Now a 7yo, the Eric Sands-trained Rainbow Bridge continued the alternating trend of the sexes that started with Legal Eagle’s second consecutive SA Horse Of The Year crowning in 2016/17, and galloped off with three awards, topped by a thoroughly deserved SA Horse Of The Year acknowledgement.
This season Rainbow Bridge won all of the Gr1 Cape Town Met, the IOS Gr2 Drill Hall Stakes and the Gr1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge. The outstanding gelding was also a short head runner-up in the Gr2 Green Point Stakes and ran second behind Champion 3yo Colt and Champion Miler Jet Dark, in the Gr1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.
The Horse Of The Year category included eight dual Gr1 winners, with Paul Matchett’s SA Triple Tiara princess War Of Athena – crowned Champion 3yo Filly – the runaway selection for the title by Sporting Post readers.
Interestingly, Vodacom Durban July winner Kommetdieding was runner-up in the poll, but cantered off empty-handed.
Another ‘unlucky’ empty-hander was Vaughan Marshall’s smashingly talented Vodacom Durban July runner-up Linebacker, a dual Gr1 classic winner and a somewhat unlucky loser of the WSB Gr1 Cape Guineas.
While beaten by Linebacker in their only clash following his L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate romp, Drakenstein-bred Jet Dark became the first horse for at least half a century to win dual open weight-for-age Gr1’s and picked up the Champion 3yo Colt and Champion Miler trophies.
There can’t be too many years when an SA Triple Crown winner hits an Equus blank, but beyond a nomination in the Champion 3yo Colt and Champion Stayer categories, the Varsfontein-bred Malmoos failed to impress the judges. Sean Tarry’s Marshalls World Of Sport Gold Cup winner Nebraas won two Gr3 staying handicaps and he was preferred in the always lukewarm longhaul category.
Outgoing SA Horse Of The Year Summer Pudding won two Highveld Gr1’s, and as the only dual elite level winner was not a surprise choice in the Champion Older Filly/Mare division.
The Snaith Racing Team celebrated another trophy in the tightly contested Champion Sprinter category when the Normandy-bred Rio Querari beat three individual Gr1 winners .
The Drakenstein-bred Rain In Holland saw her breathtaking victory in the Gr1 Thekwini Stakes at Hollywoodbets Greyville at the Marshalls World Of Sport Festival Of Racing clinch the Champion 2yo Filly trophy ahead of her Gr1 Allan Robertson winning stablemate, Under Your Spell.
Lammerskraal Stud bred the Champion 2yo Colt winner Good Traveller, who affirmed for some the thought that the more recent your impact in the season, the better the panel views it.
Glen Kotzen’s charge won the Gr1 Premiers Champion Stakes to round off his season, with a Gr3 victory and a Gr2 placing on his CV. He was beaten by Vaughan Marshall’s Ambiorix in the Gr1 Gold Medallion.
Champion 2yo Colt (Distance Immaterial)
Champion 2yo Filly (Distance Immaterial)
Champion 3yo Colt (Distance Immaterial)
Champion 3yo Filly (Distance Immaterial)
Champion Older Male (Distance Immaterial)
Champion Older Filly/Mare (Distance Immaterial)
Champion Sprinter (1000-1200m, Age/gender Immaterial)
Champion Miler (1400-1600m, Age/gender Immaterial)
Champion Middle Distance 1800-2200m, Age/gender Immaterial)
Champion Stayer (2400m upwards, Age/gender Immaterial)
Special Achievement Award
Horse of the Year
Special Award to Groom of Horse of the year