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Gaynor Rupert and Kevin Sommerville lead in Charles Dickens, who was the principal Drakenstein homebred in a season of record-breaking homebred success. (Candiese Lenferna Photography).

 

Drakenstein Stud became the first in a long time, if not ever, to be both champion owners and champion breeders.

Their familiar blue and white colours were a dominant theme throughout the season and, like Oliver Twist, they kept on coming back for more.

As breeders Drakenstein finished the season with their runners having earned R33,113,288 in stakes, compared to the R26,069,650 of the runners up and previous season’s champions Wilgerbosdrift And Mauritzfontein. Former champions Klawervlei Stud were third on R19,647,400.

This feat was made remarkable by them having only had 180 runners, which can be compared to the champions of the previous five seasons having 314 (2021/2022), 445 (2020/2021), 453 (2019/2020), 254 (2018/2019) and 387 (2017/2018) runners.

Drakenstein also smashed their own record for number of stakes winners. 

They had 20 individual stakes winners of 35 races, which beat the mark they had set in the previous season of 18 stakes winners of 25 races.

They enjoyed incredible luck on the owners’ side.

The probable best horse they have ever bred, Charles Dickens, could not be sold because he displaced his palate and still does, it just doesn’t bother him; Winchester Mansion broke a vertebrae in his neck shortly before the yearling sales when charging into a pole and had to be box rested for three months; Neither Trip Of Fortune nor Safe Passage reached their reserves.

They had to race those four horses themselves and they have turned out to be their four best horses, although Safe Passage had a disappointing season following his stellar three-year-old career.

Among the stalwarts who represented them as breeders this season, but not as owners, were the superstar pair Jet Dark and See It Again, who both raced in the colours of prolific Durban-based owner Nick Jonsson.

Jonsson and his racing partner Tommy Crowe made the wise decision, after WSB Met victory, to stand Jet Dark at Drakenstein Stud. This superb son of Trippi looks to be full of stallion potential and can follow in the footsteps of his famous father. 

The Candice Bass Robinson-trained Trippi colt Charles Dickens was being compared to all time greats Horse Chestnut and Sea Cottage by Christmas, before an unexpected defeat in the L’Ormarins King’s Plate. He nevertheless landed two prestigious Gr 1s, the Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas and the weight for age Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge. He is favourite to be named all of the Equus Champion three-year-old Male Champion, Equus Champion Miler and Equus Horse Of The Year. 

Winchester Mansion gave Drakenstein their first Hollywoodbets Durban July as breeders and their second as owners. The Brett Crawford-trained gelding’s victory would have been a more satisfying July winner than their first with Legislate in 2014 for a few reasons. Firstly, he crossed the line first instead of having to rely on a boardroom decision, secondly Drakenstein bred him and thirdly he is by the sire that has been been behind the stud’s meteoric rise, Trippi.

Drakenstein’s second World Pool Gold Cup as breeders with the Sean Tarry-trained Future Pearl was likely not as satisfying as their first with Jeppe’s Reef ten years ago in 2013 because, unlike the former, they do not own him.

On the other hand the big Futura three-year-old gelding became the second horse after Hermoso Mundo in 2017 to do the unofficial stayers Triple Crown, winning all of the Gr 3 WSB Gold Bowl over 3200m, the Gr 3 DSTV Gold Vase over 3000m and the Gr 3 World Pool Gold Cup over 3200m.

Drakenstein earned R19,165,813 as owners, which was well clear in the end of their chief rivals through the season, the Hollywood Syndicate, who earned R15,319,950.