The Gold Cup Festival Of Racing will be run over two days at the end of July and has all the makings of being, and becoming, one of the great racing celebrations in the country featuring 19 races over the two days headed on the Saturday by the Grade 1 Champions Cup and on the Sunday by the iconic marathon event, the eLAN Gold Cup.
The Festival, which begins with social events like the Gala Dinner on the Thursday and Golf Day on the Friday, will include a variety of entertainment on both race days to give the occasion an incredible festive atmosphere.
Entries for the main feature events of the weekend closed on Monday with 28 horses being nominated for the eLAN Gold Cup and 17 for the Champions Cup, both races attracting an outstanding level of quality that should guarantee racing of the highest level to close off SA Champions Season and the South African 2016-2017 racing season.
The R1-million, Grade 1 Champions Cup over 1 800m could see the Vodacom Durban July winner Marinaresco going for the double having won the race last year trained by Mike Bass and staged as a tribute to Mike and his wife Carole with Mike retiring following a life-threatening illness. Under Mike’s daughter Candice, Marinaresco made history when winning the Vodacom Durban July in that he was saddled by the first lady trainer to ever win the big race.
Marinaresco’s participation in the race is yet to be confirmed but if he does run and win again, it would be one of the great fairy tales of South African racing.
Candice Robinson has also nominated her outstanding filly Nightingale that ran the race of her life when fourth by less than half a length to Marinaresco in the Vodacom Durban July having previously finished second over 1 400m in the Tibouchina Stakes.
It is a power-packed entry that includes the winner of the Premier’s Champion Trophy at Turffontein, Deo Juvente from the Geoff Woodruff stable, as well as the runner-up in that race, the Tyrone Jackey-trained Judicial. Brett Crawford has nominated his powerful Captain Al gelding Captain America that won the Rising Son Gold Challenge as well as Sail South that finished fourth in that race.
Justin Snaith has entered three horses headed by the brilliant filly Bela-Bela that cruised home in the Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes. Black Arthur, third in the Cup Trial and It’s My Turn that was third in the Betting World 1900 and strongly fancied to win the Vodacom Durban July, are his other entries.
Add to the list the winner of the Betting World 1900 Ten Gun Salute from the Duncan Howells yard that found traffic problems when unplaced in the July and French Navy from the powerful Sean Tarry stable and you have what could be an outstanding field.
The eLAN Gold Cup over 3 200m carries a stake of R1.25-million and is the premier marathon race in the country.
The entries include the winner of both the Gold Bowl at Turffontein and the SABC Gold Vase, Hermoso Mundo, from the Weiho Marwing stable that will be going for the big staying race treble. He is likely to start as favourite but could find strong opposition from the Justin Snaith duo of Krambambuli and Captain Splendid, the latter having finished a head behind Hermoso Mundo giving the Marwing runner 1.5kg. Krambambuli had won the Highland Night Cup prior to running an outstanding fourth by less than half a length in the Vodacom Durban July where the 2 200m was short of his best trip.
Marwing has also entered the Dynasty gelding Let It Rain that finished fourth in the Gold Bowl and third in the KZN Derby and Adam Marcus has nominated Royal Badge that filled second place in the Betting World 2200. Candice Bass-Robinson has nominated Helderberg Blue and My World, the latter having finished second to Captain Splendid in the Lonsdale Stirrup Cup.
The two-day festival promises to be an absolute feast of racing and entertainment with betting pools in the millions of rands on both days.
By Richard McMillan