Picture: GETTY IMAGES/IAN FORSYTH
Picture: GETTY IMAGES/IAN FORSYTH

In a fine show of sportsmanship, Chris van Niekerk has heralded Suzette Viljoen’s achievement in being leading owner for the 2020/2021 season as “a great story for racing”.

“I am so happy for Suzette to have won. It is a great story for racing. What is good for racing is good for all of us who are part of it. We all win,” said Van Niekerk, arguably the best-known owner in the sport.

“There are already too many squabbles in a relatively small industry. We need more love and unity,” said  Van Niekerk.

The Equus final figures, which exclude restricted races, are:

  • Suzette Viljoen: R5,390,550;
  • Drakenstein Stud: R5,343,375; and
  • Chris van Niekerk: R5,199,900.

Despite Van Niekerk expressing satisfaction with the outcome, he would have retained his title had the final decision rested with the National Horseracing Authority (NHA), which includes restricted race earnings in their statistics.

Vee Moodley, CEO of the NHA, confirmed that their statistics put Van Niekerk on top, but said “the NHA has no jurisdiction over Equus, they make their own rules”.

Racing newspaper The Sporting Post said the Equus decision not to include restricted races “put the cat among the pigeons”.

“The days of individual egos and whims are gone and Equus will hopefully fall in line with the NHA and standardise their assessments,” it said. Many will agree with this summation.

Though Viljoen does not have any runners at the Vaal on Thursday, Van Niekerk has prospects of landing a double with Stay The Course (third race) and Grappler in the final leg of the Pick Six.

A lightly raced son of Pomodoro, Stay The Course finished a close third in his recent outing at Turffontein that suggested the four-year-old is ready to leave the maiden ranks. Muzi Yeni’s mount, Brenner Pass, rates the main danger.

The progeny of Vercingetorix excelled during the last campaign and his daughter, Big Eyed Girl, is likely to be all the rage with punters for the sixth race. The filly won her maiden at Turffontein in facile fashion.

As Big Eyed Girl has just turned three she is not well in at weight-for-age against Candice Dawson’s mare, Malvern. The boxed exacta might be a good way to bet on this 1,000m sprint.

Grappler returns from a 19-week break in the eighth race and, if not in need of the run, should prove a major player in this 1,200m contest. Another inmate of Candice Dawson’s stable, Miracle And Wonder, must be included in all exotic bets as this Captain Al filly took on stronger company last time out.

Blue Eyes, a member of Paul Peter’s powerful stable, will have his supporters, while Midnight Gem is surely better than her disappointing last run suggests.

A daughter of Crusade bred by the Scott Bros, Midnight Gem represents the stable of Phillip Labuschagne that landed a double with Smiley River and Lady Calavera at the Vaal on Tuesday.

SELECTIONS

First race: (14) What A Honey (1) Super Tanaye (5) Faeezahs Princess (2) Smelting

Second race: (2) Lulu’s Boy (1) King’s Spear (12) Rozara (11) Phaka Imali

Third race: (2) Stay The Course (1) Brenner Pass (3) Joe Harman (4) Parker Getrix

Fourth race: (7) Rapid Charge (3) Lucky Shamrock (2) Burmese Tiara (8) Magic Town

Fifth race: (8) This Generation (1) Flinders Range (3) Blonde Act (2) Mike The Pilot

Sixth race: (3) Malvern (2) Big Eyed Girl (1) Alex The Great (4) Magic Choice

Seventh race: (2) Global Ransom (4) FromheretoEternity (5) After Hours (1) Funky Music

Eighth race: (1) Grappler (3) Miracle And Wonder (4) Blue Eyes (7) Midnight Gem

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