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Posted on Thursday, 24 August 2023

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Press Release

The results of the 2023 Equus Awards held at the Senate Room at Emperors Palace were revealed this evening by Equus Masters of Ceremony, Alistair Cohen and Benni Langa. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our panel for their assistance with the deliberations, as well as all the members of the public for their enthusiastic participation in the voting element to help conclude the decisions. Also enormous thanks to the team behind the scenes for putting together the event.

2023 Equine categories:

Champion Two-year-old Male (Distance Immaterial)

Winner: Sandringham Summit

Mr Rakesh Singh’s SANDRINGHAM SUMMIT (Gimmethegreenlight – Townsend), bred by Varsfontein Stud, was a R1,7 million purchase from the 2022 BSA National Yearling Sale. Trained by David Nieuwenhuizen, he has had 5 starts during the season for 3 wins and 2 seconds and stakes of R842 250. His highlights included the Gr2 Durban Golden Horseshoe on Hollywoodbets Durban July day and the Gr1 World Pool Moment Of The Day Premiers Champion Stakes on World Pool Gold Cup day, delivering David Nieuwenhuizen’s first career Gr1 win in the process.

Champion Two-year-old Female (Distance Immaterial)

Winner: Mrs Geriatrix

The Magical Lady Syndicate (Nom: Natalie Turner)’s MRS GERIATRIX (Vercingetorix – Velvet Glove) was bred by Peter & Jenny Blyth’s Clifton Stud and was a R200 000 purchase from the 2022 BSA National Yearling Sale. Trained by multiple SA Champion trainer Sean Tarry, Mrs Geriatrix posted an unbeaten 5 race win streak for the season, including the Gr1 Allan Robertson Championship, Gr2 WSB SA Fillies Nursery and Gr2 Zulu Kingdom Explorer Golden Slipper on Hollywoodbets Durban July Day for earnings of R1,025,000.

Champion Three-year-old Male (Distance Immaterial)

Winner: Charles Dickens

The Drakenstein Stud (Nom: Mrs G A Rupert) bred and owned CHARLES DICKENS (Trippi – Demanding Lady) bypassed the sales ring thanks to the fact that he displaces his palate and was retained to race in the interests of his stud. Trained by Candice Bass-Robinson, he was one of the talking horses of the season, producing a sensational win in the Gr1 Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas. Valiant in defeat in both the Gr1 L’Ormarins King’s Plate and Gr1 SplashOut Cape Derby, he posted back-to-back victories in the Gr2 WSB Guineas and Gr1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge to close his season with 8 wins from 10 starts and stakes earnings of R3,544,063.

Champion Three-year-old Female (Distance Immaterial)

Winner: Bless My Stars

Kestorm Investments (Nom: Mr Kenneth Pillay)’s BLESS MY STARS (Gimmethegreenlight – Star Express) was bred by Varsfontein Stud and was a R250,000 purchase from the 2021 BSA National Yearling Sale. Trained by Paul Peter at 2, she won convincingly on debut and underlined her class by finishing less than half a length 3rd in the 2022 Gr1 Thekwini Stakes. Campaigned by Sean Tarry for the 2022/23 season, she put up a courageous fight to win the Gr1 Wilgerbosdrift Fillies Classic and earned place cheques in the Gr2 Wilgerbosdrift Bridget Oppenheimer Oaks, Gr2 WSB Gerald Rosenberg Stakes and Gr1 Hollywoodbets Durban July, before claiming victory in the Gr2 Riding High Together Gold Bracelet. She closed her 3yo season with 5 wins from 13 starts and stakes earnings of R1,687,500.

Champion Older Male (Distance Immaterial)

Winner: Trip Of Fortune

Bred by Drakenstein Stud (Nom: Mrs G A Rupert), TRIP OF FORTUNE (Trippi – Louvre) was retained by his breeder after failing to meet his reserve at the 2020 BSA National Yearling Sales. Trained by Candice Bass-Robinson, he was almost foot perfect at 2 and 3, before a famously rough trip in the 2022 Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas. Gelded and rested, he returned to the track for the 2022/23 season as a 4yo, winning the Gr3 Hollywoodbets Matchem Stakes and Gr2 WSB Green Point Stakes, before a somewhat unusual tactic of being tried on the Highveld en route to KZN for the Durban season. Fortune favours the brave and he put up a command performance to win the Gr1 HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes at Turffontein. In Durban, he added the Gr2 Independent on Saturday Drill Hall Stakes and added creditable performances in all of the Gr1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge, Gr1 Hollywoodbets Durban July and Gr1 HKJC Champions Cup to close his season with 9 wins from 20 starts and stakes earnings of R1,698,800.

Champion Older Female (Distance Immaterial)

Winner: Princess Calla

Mr M J A Ferreira’s PRINCESS CALLA (Flower Alley – Princess Royal) was bred by Maine Chance Farms and was a R600,000 Cape Premier Yearling Sale graduate. After two career starts in KZN under the care of Dennis Bosch, including a 3rd place finish in the 2020 Gr1 Thekwini Stakes behind then undefeated champion Anything Goes, Princess Calla transferred to Cape-based Adam Marcus in late 2020 and her 3yo campaign comprised wins in the Gr2 Cape Fillies Championship, Gr3 Umzimkhulu Stakes and being narrowly beaten by Zarina in the Gr1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes. At 4, she won the Gr3 Prix du Cap, and then in her single career start for Ashley Fortune, won the Gr1 HSH Princess Charlene Empress Club Stakes at Turffontein in April 2022. For the season at hand, she continued her career in the hands of Sean Tarry, winning the Gr2 Southern Cross Stakes, Gr2 Cartier Sceptre Stakes, Gr3 Senor Santa Stakes, Gr1 SA Fillies Sprint brought to you by The Witness and Gr1 Ridgemont Garden Province Stakes, closing her 5yo campaign with victory in the Gr1 HKJC Champions Cup. She has a total 11 wins from 23 starts to date, has won from 1000- 1800m and has accumulated stakes earnings of R2,826,875.

Champion Sprinter (1000-1200 Metres, Age/gender Immaterial)

Winner: Isivunguvungu

ISIVUNGUVUNGU (What A Winter – Miss Tweedy) was bred by Narrow Creek Stud and privately purchased by the Hollywood Syndicate in 2020. He was named by Hollywoodbets brand ambassador and Sharks rugby legend, Odwa Ndungane and the name means ‘storm’ in isiXhosa. Trained by Peter Muscutt, he won on debut at 2, made 5 starts at 3, winning the Listed In Full Flight Handicap and Listed Marshalls World Of Sport Umngeni Handicap. For 2022/23, he joined the Muscutt string in Cape Town for the Cape summer season as a 4yo, posting an eye-catching 3rd in the Gr1 Pongracz Cape Flying Championship. He raided the Highveld to deliver Peter’s first career Gr1 in the Jonsson Workwear Computaform Sprint, followed up with a Pinnacle Stakes win at Hollywoodbets Scottsville and closed his season with a second Gr1 win in the WFA Mercury Sprint. Isivunguvungu now has 6 wins from 14 starts and total earnings of R1,510,550.

Champion Miler (1400-1600 Metres, Age/gender Immaterial)

Winner: Charles Dickens

Qualifying performances for this category from the Drakenstein Stud (Nom: Mrs G A Rupert) bred and owned CHARLES DICKENS (Trippi – Demanding Lady) include wins in the Gr3 Cape Classic, a sensational win in the Gr1 Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas and a valiant defeat in the Gr1 L’Ormarins King’s Plate as well as victory in the Gr2 WSB Guineas and Gr1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge.

Champion Middle Distance Horse 1800-2200 Metres, Age/gender Immaterial)

Winner: Winchester Mansion

Bred by Drakenstein Stud (Nom: Mrs G A Rupert), the cleverly named WINCHESTER MANSION (Trippi – Sea Point) was another to be retained by his breeder after breaking a vertebra his neck as a yearling. Placed with Philippi-based Brett Crawford, the colt saw the track for the first time at 3, having 8 starts at 3 for 2 wins (incl the Gr3 WSB Pocket Power Stakes) and a 2nd place finish to Gem King in the Gr3 WSB Legal Eagle Stakes. At 4, he took his place in the Gr3 Ridgemont Highlands Peninsula Handicap and Gr2 Antonij Rupert Wyne Premier Trophy, before being gelded and placed in the care of Brett’s son James at their satellite base in Randjesfontein. Prepped on the Highveld for his Durban campaign, Winchester Mansion was a narrow 2nd to Pacaya in the Gr2 WSB 1900, produced an authoritative win in the Gr3 Hollywoodbets Dolphins Cup Trial and then held off See It Again in the 2023 Gr1 Hollywoodbets Durban July in sensational fashion.

Champion Stayer (2400 Metres upwards, Age/gender Immaterial)

Winner: Future Pearl

Mr A R & Mrs A B L Beck’s FUTURE PEARL (Futura – Arabian Pearl) was a R525,000 purchase from Drakenstein Stud (Nom: Mrs G A Rupert)’s 2021 BSA National Yearling Sale draft. Trained by Sean Tarry, he had 2 useful juvenile starts. At 3, he had 12 starts for 5 wins, of which his place in the Gr1 WSB SA Derby and victories in the Gr3 WSB SA Gold Bowl, Gr3 DSTV Gold Vase and Gr3 World Pool Gold Cup secured his credentials for the Champion Stayer award.

2023 Breeder Awards:

Champion Broodmare:Demanding Lady
Champion Stallion:Gimmethegreenlight
Champion Breeder:Drakenstein Stud (Nom: Mrs G A Rupert)
Outstanding Stallion:Trippi
Outstanding Breeder:Drakenstein Stud (Nom: Mrs G A Rupert)

DEMANDING LADY (Dynasty – Demanding Damsel) got the nod for Champion Broodmare on the strength of current season performers Charles Dickens (Gr1 Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas, Gr1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge, Gr2 WSB Guineas), Somerset Maugham (Listed Hollywoodbets Settlers Trophy) and Steinbeck.

GIMMETHEGREENLIGHT (More Than Ready – Yes She Can Cancan) achieved 14 stakes winners of 21 stakes races and total earnings of R23,030,650. Additionally, he has achieved the exceptional feat of being named Champion sire of 2yo’s, Champion sire of 3yo’s as well as National Champion Sire for the 2022/23 season.

Drakenstein Stud (Nom: Mrs G A Rupert) has achieved phenomenal success in its 20-year history. The stud received an Outstanding Achievement Award for producing 18 individual stakes winners for the 2021/22 season and celebrates its first Champion Breeder title in 2022/23 with a phenomenal 20 individual stakes winners and total stakes of R33,113,288.

TRIPPI (End Sweep – Jealous Appeal), SA champion sire of 2015/16, produced 9 stakes winners – including Charles Dickens, Jet Dark, Trip Of Fortune and Winchester Mansion - of 18 stakes races and total earnings of R14,394,738 for the 2023/23 season.

2023 Media Awards

PrintGary LemkeExpectations, Reality and Greatness
BroadcastRouvaun SmitL’Ormarins King’s Plate Race Day
Still PhotographyChase LiebenbergGreat Expectations

2023 Human Categories:

Champion Apprentice:Rachel Venniker
Champion Jockey:Keagan de Melo
Champion Trainer:Justin Snaith
Champion Owner:Drakenstein Stud (Nom: Mrs GA Rupert)

Rachel Venniker – joined the SA Jockey Academy in 2021 and her natural talent as well as strong work ethic have earned her support across the board. She has justified all the faith and support by becoming the first female rider to become Champion Apprentice with 70 wins and a 14th place finish on the National log in 2021/22. She repeats the achievement for the 2022/23 season with a total of 107 wins and 7th place finish on this year’s National log, the highlight being her hard-fought win in the Gr2 WSB Gauteng Guineas on Eye Of The Prophet.

Keagan de Melo joined the SA Jockey Academy in 2009. He rode his first winner, Western Gem, at his 4th attempt for trainer Bart Rice at Scottsville on 9 August 2010. Since then, his career has gone from strength to strength with regular top ten finishes on the local log. He finished the 2022/23 season on 277 wins, nearly 20 wins clear of his nearest rival, and sufficient to secure his first SA Champion Jockey title. In June 2023 he received a call up to Hong Kong and has been licensed to ride there until February 2024.

Justin Snaith took out his license in August 2000 and has built the family’s Philippi base into a training powerhouse. Despite retiring two of his stable stars – Jet Dark and Captain’s Ransom – early in the season, he won the 2023 Gr1 WSB Met with Jet Dark and saddled 143 winners for the season for total earnings of R19,827,981. This is his 4th SA National Trainer’s Title.

Drakenstein Stud (Nom: Mrs G A Rupert) wins the Champion Owner category with 78 winners and total earnings of R19,165,813. This is the stud’s 3rd Champion Owner Title.

2023 Horse of the Year:

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Winner – Princess Calla

Princess Calla (Flower Alley – Princess Royal) travelled the length and breadth of the country in the 2022/23 season, achieving 6 wins from 8 starts. During the Cape Summer Season, she won the Gr2 Southern Cross Stakes and Gr2 Cartier Sceptre Stakes; her Highveld campaign comprised wins in the Gr3 Senor Santa Stakes and Gr1 SA Fillies Sprint brought to you by The Witness; and in Durban, she was victorious in the Gr1 Ridgemont Garden Province Stakes and closed her 5yo campaign with victory at WFA in open company in the Gr1 HKJC Champions Cup. She now has a total of 11 wins from 23 starts to date, has won from 1000- 1800m and has accumulated stakes earnings of R2,826,875.

She is the second Maine Chance Farms Horse Of The Year after Free My Heart in 2001/02.

Special Award to the Groom of the Horse of the year:

Winner - Mzwandile Julias Siqila

Released by:Colin Gordon
Chair of the Equus Committee

23 August 2023

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