Charles Dickens’ official merit rating is now 128 after his breathtaking victory in the R2 million Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas, which makes him the third highest rated horse in the country behind Jet Dark (130) and Kommetdieding (129).
Various organisations or individuals have given their own ratings, which vary quite substantially.
However, sometimes the visual interpretation of a race says more than any rating ever will.
Those who had taken the 46/100 odds about Charles Dickens would have been thought by more than a few pundits to be crazy, because on formlines there was nothing separating him from the 11/2 second favourite Cousin Casey.
The said punters might also have thought themselves crazy shortly before the Guineas field turned for home.
At that stage the Candice Bass-Robinson-trained Drakenstein Stud homebred Trippi colt was near the back on the inside rail and had a wall of horses in front of him.
Aldo Domeyer extracted him from that situation with ease, but he had the help of an exceptional horse to do it.
He eased the brilliant chestnut outward, without a hint of panic or rush, until he had found daylight towards the outside.
Charles Dickens still had an enormous amount to do at that point.
However, any panic among his backers would have dissipated by the 300m mark.
The acceleration he displayed was palpable even to those watching on TV, which is unusual because one normally has to wait for a while to get an angle on the outside horses’ progress.
He crossed the line 4,25 lengths clear and although Cousin Casey has had accolades accorded to him like “July winner written all over him”, he was on this occasion made to look positively ordinary while running on for second place.
It was a performance which will live in the memory forever – like Horse Chestnut’s Met win in 1999 and Politician’s Met win in 1979.
Richard Fourie summed it up later by saying he had never before been in a race where a horse had won in such a manner.
Piere Strydom embellished by saying the last time he had seen such a performance from a jockey’s perspective was when racing against Horse Chestnut.
Fourie then quipped to Strydom, “You lucky to have seen two such horses in your career!”
It was the first ever Cape Guineas win for the Bass family, who have won every other big race in Cape Town, most of them multiple times, as well as many other big races around the country.
Candice touchingly dedicated the win to her father Mike.
Gaynor Rupert, whose Drakenstein Stud bred and own Charles Dickens, described it as her best ever day on a racecourse.