Decision imminent on Equus awards date and location
Prestige event usually takes place in the middle of August, but Covid-19 has disrupted that plan
A date and location for the Equus awards — horse racing’s Oscars — is likely to be determined today after a virtual meeting between the various parties who annually host the event.
Mid-August is the usual slot for the Equus banquet with Emperors Palace always rising to the occasion, but Covid-19 has put a spike in the wheel of this prestigious occasion in 2020.
Though Peermont Emperors Palace, whose international gaming executive Bob Yearham is a huge supporter of the sport, will want to host the event, this may not be possible due to social distancing.
The Racing Association’s (RA) Merle Parker said on Tuesday that “the Equus committee will be holding a virtual meeting on Wednesday which will include the RA, the convenors of the event, Gold Circle, Racing Operators and Breeders”.
“They will discuss the format of this year’s event and a media release will be issued as soon as the details are finalised,” said Parker.
The big interest at the awards every year is who will win the trophy for horse of the year. According to most pundits, the four horses in the running are (in alphabetical order) Got The Green Light, Hawwaam, One World and Summer Pudding.
Let’s look at the credentials of this quartet:
Got The Green Light: Winner of two grade 1 races against his own age group (SA Classic and Daily News 2000) and superb effort in the Vodacom July when second to Belgarion. However, two blots on his copybook — he could finish only sixth in the CTS 1600 at Kenilworth on Met day (perhaps the long road haul took its toll) but, more surprisingly, was beaten by long-shot Out Of Your League when favourite for the SA Derby.
Hawwaam: Ended his career in SA with two authoritative performances in the Horse Chestnut and Champions Challenge. His many fans were dismayed when the decision was taken that he would enter quarantine and not contest the July.
The one mark against him for the season was his four-lengths defeat at the hands of One World in the Met. We will see just how good he is when pitted against top-class overseas opposition.
One World: Brought the curtain down on an outstanding career — and another big race bagged by Vaughan Marshall — when proving too smart for Hawwaam, Rainbow Bridge, Do It Again and Vardy in the Met.
The big question for the Equus panel is this: does the fact he raced for only half the season count against him?
Summer Pudding: Ended the campaign unbeaten in seven starts and a huge credit to Turffontein trainer Paul Peter. She won the Triple Tiara and — while raced against her own sex — did make the trip to Greyville, a course not suited to her style of racing.
Peter is sure to fancy his chances of the filly following in the footsteps of female July victors Ipi Tombe and Igugu.
Not surprisingly, the topic of horse of the year has aroused considerable debate on the Sporting Post website. Here are some of the posts.
• “Got The Green Light by a country mile. Had the horse stayed in Durban after he won the Daily News, he would definitely have won the July. I believe travelling twice from Joburg to Durban was his undoing.”
• “There’s only One World — he beat the best and always gave his best.”
• “Give it to Summer Pudding. She has beaten everything put in front of her plus she’s won at the coast.”
• “One World for me — what a consistent racehorse with 10 wins from 14 starts and never finished further back than third in his career. He also beat the best horses around including Do It Again, Rainbow Bridge, Hawwaam and Vardy — all grade 1 winners. The trainer of One World also deserves a lot of credit for the way he managed the career of the horse.”
• “If I had a vote it would go to Belgarion. He has won five out of five and has won more recognised and substantial races than Summer Pudding.”
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