Gold Cup hero The Maltster remembered

PUBLISHED: 16 July 2019

Mokaro (Nkosi Hlophe)

This year’s Gold Cup to be run on July 27 over 3200m at Greyville will mark the 40th anniversary of one of the most famous renewals of the country’s premier staying event.

The winner was The Basil Cooper-trained The Maltster, who was talented but also a rogue and inconsistent.

This bay provided the legendary Lester Piggott with one of the most astounding wins of his celebrated career.

That race took place at Scottsville in November 1975 and the three-year-old The Maltster lost at least 12 lengths at the start.

Mokaro (Nkosi Hlophe)
Mokaro (Nkosi Hlophe)

However, Piggott somehow managed to get him up to win the race in class record time.

In a book written by Sam Magee called My Greatest Race, Piggot nominated his win on The Malster as his greatest ever ride.

In the Gold Cup of 1979 the now seven-year-old The Malster, ridden by Freddy Macaskill, was sent off at 16/1 and carrying 53,5kg beat the 9/2 favourite, the grey five-year-old Preciptack, by 0,3 lengths.

The Malster had a pathological hatred of greys and some will say it was his refusal to be overtaken by Preciptack which won him the race.

Years ending in nine have often produced Gold Cups to remember.

In 2009 the small Cape yard of Stephen Page had their biggest ever success, scoring a one-two in the Gold Cup with 8/1 shot Mokaro and 75/1 chance Noblewood, both owned by Bridget Oppenheimer. Mokaro was ridden by Richard Fourie. The race was run on August 1 and Mokaro’s sire Manaloj was briefly leading the National Sires championship, despite having left the thoroughbred stallion ranks and being registered as a warmblood sire. Manaloj (Gone West), whose third dam was Natalma, dam of the great Northern Dancer, produced pretty horses and it was little wonder that he became sort after by dressage fans.

In 1999 Robbie Hill scored a July-Gold Cup double when winning the big staying race on the Pat Shaw-trained 8/1 shot Place Of Gold, who beat the 2/1 favourite Golden Hoard by 1,5 lengths. The race was run on August 28 and nine weeks earlier Hill had won the July on the Geoff Woodruff-trained 14/1 shot El Picha, who went on to win the July again the following year.

The 1989 Gold Cup saw a spectacular win by the Ralph Rixon-trained 9/2 shot Tropicante ridden by Paddy Wynne. He sat in last place for much of the journey and emerged out of the blue to deny the outsider Allied Party who had looked all over the winner. Tropicante was a most deserved winner because as an unconsidered outsider he had been most unlucky to not win the July, finishing a 0,25 length second to Right Prerogative despite suffering interference in the straight.

The 1969 Gold Cup was won by the 2/1 favourite Golden Jewel under top jockey Marti Schoeman. Among the beaten were the previous year’s winner Caradoc, a classy, versatile horse who later had a staying race named after him, and another previous winner Smash And Grab.

In the 1959 race the former July and Gold Cup winner Excise started favourite and ran a gallant fourth carrying 58,5kg, just 0,6 lengths behind the winner, the 14/1 chance Cumanus, who carried only 44,5kg and was ridden by Shorty de la Rey.

This year’s entry list includes some good stayers and it is sure to produce another race to remember.  

By David Thiselton