Our great racing and sporting weekend!
The IRC, clients and guests were back in our revamped suite at Greyville for Gold Cup Day on Saturday – an event that matches Durban July Day with its high quality of racing. While the crowd was not near as big, it was encouraging in numbers – there is definitely hope and a good vibe back among racegoers and punters in South Africa who have had a torrid time in recent years due to mismanagement of its industry by the former operator, and the Covid restrictions.
It was a weekend of racing and sporting highlights at Grevyille and around the world and we extend warm congratulations today to jockey Jason Gates, trainer Darryl Moore and owner Preggie Somasundrum on their first Gr1 winner, Canadian Summer. The IRC’s co-founder Joao Da Mata has been involved as a mentor to Jason for several years and has never wavered in his belief that this young rider has what it takes to go to the top. He rode a big race. The unassuming Moore has a small string of horses and must take a lot of credit for his preparation of this Oratorio filly. Winning a G1 puts you on a new level – the level of having proved you can handle a top horse – and we hope Moore (and indeed Jason) receive the support they deserve in the new season.
Preggie is also a mentor and sponsor to Jason, has stood by him through tough times and admits to “being hard on him”, but his efforts are bearing fruit. He owns many runners in training and deserves every winner for his support of racing.
We were honoured to have Suzette and Basie Viljoen in our box after the race day alongside Jason Gates – all celebrating their respective big wins and showing their trophies. The Viljoen-owned filly Captain’s Ransom is arguably one of the best fillies ever to race in South Africa – we actually don’t need the word ‘arguably’ – she is one of SAs best whichever way you look at it. A note of congrats too, to Captain’s Ransom’s trainer Justin Snaith – a horseman of the highest calibre.
Basie and Suzette finished third on the National Owners Log after winning it last year – they remain a breath of fresh air for racing and we’ll support them in a bid to win the title back in the company of the formidable rivals.
We are also proud to announce the engagement of Phil Molony and Lezeanne Forbes. Phil was the IRC’s first ever member and has supported us for many years; Lezeanne is a good friend who has trained a few for us and visits with us when we are in South Africa. We wish them well on their life’s journey together.
We started our racing weekend attending Gareth van Zyl’s end-of-the-year function at Summerveld and were once again highly impressed by the professionalism of this young trainer who has just won the KZN title for the 2021/22 season.
We started with welcome drinks at his stable, where he went through his runners for Gold Cup day in great detail, then moved onto Summerveld clubhouse for speeches, awards and dinner – the room was decorated with lanterns and a winning photo in the middle of each table, and attended by friends, family members and owners.
Gareth had also invited his grooms and during the course of the evening announced groom of the season. He has also introduced to his yard groom of each month to encourage the workers to give their best, and showed a video of all his winners during the season.
He got emotional in his thank you speech, and told of how he started – his dad Gavin being a former jockey and a leading trainer, learning from his dad and taking a risk going solo. This was a lovely evening. Gareth made a real effort for everyone to feel appreciated to show his gratitude. He thanked Anton Marcus for being a friend and mentor, we look forward to seeing Anton back in the saddle and to see Gareth go from strength to strength.
On the world racing front, a highlight was the good racing from the Goodwood Festival and the amazing Frankel siring his 100th stakes winner in record-breaking time. Frankel’s 100 stakes winners have come from 612 global runners (423 winners of over 1,000 races). The world’s highest-ever rated racehorse, Frankel is still only a 14YO and has seven crops of racing age.
At the Commonwealth Games, South Africa produced a rugby sevens masterclass on Sunday night when they crushed Fiji 31-7 in the Commonwealth Games final at Coventry Stadium.
In swimming, Olympic champion and world record holder Tatjana Schoenmaker, the defending champion in the 200m breaststroke, led from start to finish to win again on Sunday. Chad Le Clos joined Michael Gault and Phil Adams as the most decorated Commonwealth Games athletes ever when he claimed his 18th medal by picking up a silver in the men’s 200 metres butterfly.
Joao Da Mata, a fierce critic of English football, cricket and rugby, said he felt humbled and emotional after watching England’s Chloe Kelly score an extra-time winner for the Lionesses, who defeated Germany to win the European Championship for the first time at Wembley Stadium on Sunday.
“The UK Women’s Football team displayed dignity, humility, style and grace, a beautiful example to everyone who watched them. It made me feel good and I know I shared the feeling with so many others, Sport has the power to unite, teach and delight,” said Joao who, incidentally, proved that he was a true athlete himself when winning a Tenpin-bowling contest at Gateway in Durban at the weekend. – IRC.