A SEASON OF CHAMPIONS DRAWS TO AN END
The Durban July has come and gone and it is almost the end of another exciting year and Champions Season. The SA Derby winning 3-year old, Pomodoro, wasn't fancied in the July betting but showed class, stamina and courage when overcoming the widest of draws, running on the pace, and fighting off an onslaught of challenges in the straight. Pomodoro was perhaps a fitting winner of this years' big race, capping off another magnificent season for his sire, Jet Master, in the year of his untimely death. Pomodoro's win hammered the final nail into the coffin to seal Jet Master's sixth consecutive Champion Stallion's title. An incredible achievement. Congratulations to Sean Tarry, Chris van Niekerk and the other connections of Pomodoro; and to Henry and Pat Devine, Benny Marais, and all those who were involved at Klipdrif Stud with Jet Master. With only Champions' Day remaining in the season the race for Horse of the Year still seems remarkably open. The three year old division has appeared strong this year and Variety Club, Jackson, Pomodoro and Gimmethegreenlight are all in contention for Horse of the Year honours. Throw into that picture the fillies Europa Point and Igugu and its going to be a difficult decision for the judges. One category that doesn't appear to be a hard decision for the judges is that of Champion 3-year old Filly where Princess Victoria must surely have guaranteed herself this award after holding off the brilliant Ebony Flyer in last week's prestigious Garden Province Stakes. The race of the year has to be that showdown between champions Val de Ra and What a Winter in the Cape Flying Championship. It's not often a race receives such mouth-watering hype beforehand and yet is still able to live up to expectations. Both of these horses look likely to take home the titles of Champion Female and Male sprinter, respectively. The Suncoast KZN Yearling Sale took a positive upswing this year largely as a result of the R1million incentive race to take place next year for graduates of the sale. The sale grossed R13million resulting in the average price increasing from R45k to R68k. On top of this, the sale witnessed the first ever million rand yearling to be sold in Natal when Highlands Stud sent out a son of Trippi to reach this landmark. The sale will hopefully reach even greater heights next year. We were fortunate to be sent 5 yearlings from the sale and we are thankful to those buyers who sent us these yearlings. Among the yearlings were two by young stallions Ravishing who stands at Summerhill Stud, and Atso, a son of Kingmambo who stands at Scott Bros. These joined a chestnut colt by London News and fillies by Fort Wood and Miesque's Approval. There have also been a handful of youngsters coming off farms to join Ambleway this past month. A filly by Imperial Stride and a colt and filly by Var have been sent to be backed and get ready for pre-training while six others will be prepared for the Ready-to-Run sale in November. These yearlings include a filly and colt by Toreador, and progeny of Black Minnaloushe, Windrush, Eyeofthetiger and Modus Vivendi. It will be exciting to see how these yearlings progress as they begin their training. We seem to have been infiltrated by a group of Wallabies here at Ambleway who have been sent over to take on our Springbok breds on home soil. Having foreign horses in the yard is always exciting and we have had some fantastic success in the past. PALACE LINE, Champion 2 year old of 2001, was one of very first Aussie breds to arrive at Ambleway. This year we have a son of young stallion Casino Prince joining the yearlings mentioned above at the Ready-to-Run sale. Casino Prince is a young Danehill line stallion whose first runners are only two year olds. However, in that first crop is a colt called All Too Hard, who is one of the best two year olds in Australia and is the half-brother to Black Caviar!
The other Wallabies on the farm include sons of Hard Spun and Commands. Hard Spun is one of the last sons of Danzig at stud and is a leading second crop sire in North America, who shuttles to Australia. Commands is an established stallion in Australia who is currently 4th on the Australian Sires List. We also have two colts and a filly by young Storm Cat stallion n, Where's That Tiger. Whether any of these is the next PALACE LINE we can only wait and see! It's been a good month for Ambleway where we had doubles on three different racedays. The first of these took place on Mercury Sprint day when Dennis Drier reeled off two winners. The first being MURMERING SKY won a 1450m race for juvenile fillies. We have some history with MURMERING SKY because her mother, the Thunder Gulch mare FAR OFF THUNDER, was schooled at Ambleway after being imported by Graham Beck from the USA. This daughter of Jallad was bred by Highlands and is owned by Mrs Beck. This was her second win and the way she did it suggests it shouldn't be her last. DANSEUSE also won her second race that day after a good ride by Sean Cormack. DANSEUSE raced handy and there was a stage when you thought she'd been passed but she fought back and came again. She is owned by the Shanks Syndicate (Warren Kidd nominee) and was bred by Trevor Armitage. The second double occurred at Clairwood when NORDIC LASS won her maiden over 1450m by 2 lengths and BARANOVA won over 1200m by over a length. NORDIC LASS is a daughter of Kahal and is trained by Dennis Drier and owned by his wife, Gill, along with Ferdi Dippenaar, Dave Abery, Tim Keating, Miles Dally and Gary Harris. BARANOVA is trained by Michael Roberts for his wife, Verna, and is a daughter of Joshua Dancer. Michael Roberts had another winner from Ambleway this month when CUCUMBER ALLEY broke his maiden over 1400m for his Fieldspring Racing connections. CUCUMBER ALLEY has been highly consistent running numerous placing before this and so deserved this victory. The third double was when two of St. John Gray's horses won on the same day at the Vaal, namely SPORTS HERO and ACEINTHEHOLE. SPORTS HERO is a son of Bezrin and this was his 2nd win while ACEINTHEHOLE is a son of Jam Alley and was winning on debut. St. John Gray had three more winners for Ambleway this past month. EGYPTIAN has run lots of places and deserved his time in the sun when winning over 2000m by a head. TURKISH DELIGHT has been quite the success in the track. He made it 5 wins from 18 starts when winning over 2400m at the Vaal by 3 ½ lengths. The final of the 3 winners was YER MAAN who won by a length over 1800m. All three of these winners are homebred sons of St. John's stallions. Both EGYPTIAN and TURKISH DELIGHT are by the well-bred National Assembly stallion, Sarge, while YER MAAN is by Jam Alley, a son of Arc Winner, Peintre Celebre. A potentially exciting youngster looks to be COUNT ROMANOV who won over 1000m on debut. This son of Captain Al trained by Dennis Drier for Ingrid & Marcus Jooste won well under Anton Marcus and will be one we are looking forward to watching in the future. This colt is another successful juvenile bred by Duncan Barry at his Riverton Stud! Dennis had another winner in PUT THE KETTLE ON who is a daughter of Dynasty. She won for the 2nd time from 8 outings for owners Michael Fullard and James Drew. Well done to you all and to Highlands Stud who bred her. Down in Port Elizabeth the famously named TAKE OVER TARGET won again over 1200m for his new connections. He is now trained by Yvonne Bremner and it is always heartening to see horses find a new lease on racing after a change in environment. We wish him all the best down there. Meanwhile down in Cape Town the Rock of Gibraltar colt NAVAL VICTORY won impressively over 1300m. He was expected to win his last start and didn't disappoint this time round winning by 4 ¼ lengths. Trained by Dean Kannemeyer he is owned by Des Scott, Dave Abery and Brett Parker. Also in the Cape Mike Bass sent out JET INTO THE WIND who came home by just under a length over 1200m. We schooled the mother of this son of Jet Master, FLY THE WIND, so this added to the excitement of watching his victory. JET INTO THE WIND is owned by Pat and Henry Devine and was rewarded here after running a number of places The useful filly MADAM ROONEY notched up a deserved win in the Cape over 1400 metres for Braam Van Huysteen. She has run in several bigger races and it was great to see this Highlands Bred filly score another victory back in Cape Town for trainer Burger. Another stallion who is sadly lost to the South African industry is Strike Smartly. A full brother to Champion North American sire, Smart Strike, he undoubtedly would have been a major stallion in years to come. Strike Smartly is the sire of WILD TYPE who won twice this last month for Gavin van Zyl and Mrs Oppenheimer. The first of these wins was over 1200m by almost 3 lengths and the second was at Scottsville by a length. He looks like a useful sort having already won 8 races.
We missed the Sale and the July as we were in Ireland. Apart from the weather which was wet we had a great time visiting stud farms and attending James' graduation from Darley Flying Start program. It was a super opportunity for us to meet all of the parents of the group of 12 from all over the world...the Bott family from Australia where several of our horses were bred, the Rileys from Canada, among the group there. Apart from the super graduation evening at Kildangan House we were treated to viewing the Darley Stallions Shamardal, Cape Cross, Teofilo, Manduro, Raven's Pass and Vale Of York. We also visited the picturesque farm of the Aga Khan where the famous Sea The Stars stands. With him are good racehorses Azamour and Dalakhani . We were really impressed with the laid back nature of Sea the Stars. He was very strong and also well proportioned. We also visited the Irish National Stud and unfortunately the rain pelted down while we were there so we only caught a glimpse of Invincible Spirit in his paddock. There is a list of horses that have placed and deserve following in their next few starts: HEADS UP, PINE SHADE, AGAPANTHA NANA, FESTIVE INTERLUDE, JET DOT COM, OVERBERRY, MONTAIN THUNDER, PUNTE DEL ESTE, LAMORNA, AIR PATROL, LORD AL, THE FIXER, WEST VIRGINIA, JETTIN ALONG, TRANSCENDENT, ARCTIC BEAR, DYNAMIC STAR, HOWYA, WATCH THE SUNSET, SAMMY SILVER, MASTER OF HOUNDS, RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, MEDICIAN WOOD, PENNY FARE. Thank you again for the support and excitement over this past season from all of us at Ambleway. May next year be even better! Enjoy your racing!