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Posted 2023-11-14 07:09:48  
Summer Cup and It's storied History should never be forgotten

The history of the Summer Cup is a glorious one and should never be diminished. It's a full 135 years old and soon to be 136. The race has had its name changes and date changes but it didn't stop the event from a storied history. Let's hope the powers that be celebrate it's full history again this year. 

The Summer Cup as it is known today had taken on various names and dates. It was initially run in 1887 in December and the formation of Johannesburg as a city only look place in 1886. So the race is accurately almost as old as Joburg itself.

The Joburg racing scene was made up of 4 main races at time, the Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter handicaps. The Summer Handicap was the one that stayed on as a name and was usually run in December. By all accounts not all were run every year except for 1900 where none were run. But atleast one was run each year besides 1900. However in 1901 there were numerous major handicaps that year and any could have been taken as a 'Summer' race.

From 1949, the Summer Handicap had become an annual event over the 2000m in December. The distance also settled on 2000m from 1910 to date. It was 1800m prior to that up to 1906 and 1600m before that.

In 1972 it became known as the Holiday Inns due to the sponsor. It wasn't run in 1981 and returned in May 1982. It maintained that April/May date until 1987. It was renamed the Sun International from 1984 to 1987. In 1987 it was run in September and won by Pedometer by 14 lengths. In 1988 it returned to an April date and won by Singing Boy. It was known as the Champion Stakes in 1988 until 1992 and then the Administrators Cup until 1996. It was run at Gosforth Park twice in this time span 1993 (Cardinal Fury) and 1997 (Record Edge).

The great Empress Club (drawn 19/19) won it in 1992 at even money carrying 52.5 beating top weight Flaming Rock (58kg) into 5th and 4.5 lengths.

In 1997 it was called the Premier's Cup until 1999 when it was run as the Champion Stakes again. The Summer Cup (in December) returned that same year in 1999 as the Summer Handicap won by El Picha. The Champion Stakes of 1999 was not a handicap but the previous versions were (1988 to 1998). The 1999 Champion Stakes in April seemed to be the fore runner to the Premier's Champions Challenge which is in April. It is a Weight for Age contest as opposed to the handicap versions of the 'Summer Cup' raced in April previously under the different names (Holiday Inns/Sun International, Premiers Cup etc). This is key in determining that the Summer Cup had changed date and name.

Since 1999 it resumed as a Summer race in November except in 2018 when it was run in December.

It's now celebrating 136 years in 2023 and is almost as old as the city it is hosted in.

Image of Furious winning the big race

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