First run in 1921, the Gold Cup is South Africa’s most prestigious staying race, and at 3 200m, is indeed Africa’s premier marathon for long-distance runners.
The race starts at the 400m mark in the short Greyville straight, which sees some earnest jockeying for position as the runners pass the winning post for the first time before turning sharply right and heading towards the Drill Hall. Normally many runners are under pressure before the turn into the home straight and it takes a special type of horse and jockey to win the event.
One of the greatest Gold Cup riders of all time was Charlie Barends, who won the event seven times. He partnered favourite Chez Monty, who in 1950 became the first horse to win the race two years running. It was the incredible Felix Coetzee, however, who broke Barends’ long standing record in 2012 when he won his eighth Gold Cup on In Writing.
Super Saturday is the grand finale and brings Champions Season to a close in spectacular fashion. In addition to the prestigious eLAN Gold Cup, the spectacular raceday features multiple Graded Stakes races including the Grade 1 Champions Cup over 1 800m. Originally run at Clairwood, the Champions Cup is an open conditions race that features most of the country’s top horses and has an illustrious history dating back many decades.
Two other Grade 1 events on the day are the Premier’s Champion Stakes and the Thekwini Stakes – the ultimate tests for the two-year-olds over 1 600m at level weights – which brings the country’s juvenile programme to a close.
Feature race information [visit http://www.championsseason.co.za for more racing info]