UK-based owner-breeders Alec and Gillian Foster will have raised their glasses on Sunday when their 2020 Vodacom Durban July winner Belgarion received the award for KwaZulu-Natal horse of the season.

The awards were presented during Sunday’s meeting at HollywoodbetsGreyville and recognition of Belgarion’s outstanding season will be compensation for those pundits who felt the son of Dynasty deserved the Equus horse of the year title.

Instead, the panel voted for Paul Peter’s unbeaten filly Summer Pudding.

However, Belgarion, who provided trainer Justin Snaith with his fifth July success, also went through the season unbeaten winning each of his five starts. Apart from the July, he also captured the grade 2 WSB 1900.

Former top jockey Garth Puller, who won the 1987 July on Bush Telegraph, was champion trainer in KwaZulu-Natal for the 2019-2020 season with Warren Kennedy and Luke Ferraris taking the top jockey and apprentice awards.

Owner Mario Ferreira won the leading owner category for the second time in three years and his Noble Tune gelding Paths Of Victory took the Champion Stayer award.

Turftalk described this as “somewhat ironic” as — after the Equus committee’s decision not to give a stayers’ award this year — Snaith Racing initiated a public poll which was won by Paths Of Victory. He got the vote over four other stayers — Marchingontogether, Snapscan, Dynasty’s Blossom and SA Derby victor Out Of Your League.

Ferreira bought Paths Of Victory for R220,000 at the 2017 National Yearling Sales and — in the care of trainer Gareth van Zyl — his earnings stand at R647,000.

The Champion Two Year-Old Colt and Champion Two Year-Old Filly categories were won by Tempting Fate and Vernichey  respectively.

Vernichey, a daughter of Vercingetorix, won the Allan Robertson at Scottsville at the beginning of July for another Van Zyl inmate while Tempting Fate, trained by veteran Dennis Drier, won the Golden Horse Medallion. The colt, purchased from Avontuur Farm for R550,000 as a yearling, is a son of Master Of My Fate.

Presumably as a result of his close second in the Golden Horse Sprint, the Champion Sprinter award went to Ultra Magnus, a son of Oratorio trained by Brett Crawford. Bred at David Hepburn-Brown’s Hemel ’n Aarde stud, the gelding is owned by Black Diamond Thoroughbreds and Gold Circle executive Graeme Hawkins.

Padre Pio was another horse to contribute to Mario Ferreira’s excellent season with the Dennis Bosch inmate winning the Champion Three Year-Old Colt award.

Arguably Padre Pio’s best performance last term came in the grade 1 Daily News 2000 in which he ran second to Equus Champion Three Year-Old Colt Got the Greenlight.

Mary O, a daughter of Oratorio trained by Lezanne Forbes, captured the Champion Three Year-Old Filly award. She was bred at Connemara Stud and cost R300,000 as a yearling.


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