Skip to main content

Equus Awards Upheaval At World Pool Gold Cup Meeting

By August 1, 2023Uncategorized

Princess Calla has gone to the top of the Equus Horse Of The Year points table (Candiese Lenferna Photography).


The HKJC World Pool Gold Cup day meeting usually causes an upheaval to the Equus Awards standings and this year’s renewal was no different.

The most important upheaval was to the Equus Horse Of The Year award. The Sean Tarry-trained Princess Calla’s impressive win in the Gr 1 HKJC World Pool Champions Cup over 1800m sees her jumping to the top of the Equus Horse Of The Year points table and she also becomes the only horse to have won three Gr 1s this season. Each of Charles Dickens, See It Again and Princess Calla have won an open weight for age (wfa) Gr 1, while Charles Dickens and See It Again each have an age restricted Gr 1 to their names, whilst Princess Calla has two gender restricted Gr 1s to her name. She also won three Gr 2s, including one against the boys by 5,25 lengths. However, who is the better horse, her or Charles Dickens, and how much weight does opinion have versus statistics?         
The first upheaval on the day was caused by the David Nieuwenhuizen-trained Sandringham Summit, whose betting drift did not stop him powering home to a second successive impressive Graded race victory in the Gr 1 World Pool Moment Of The Day Champion Stakes. Lucky Lad looked a shoe-in for the Equus Champion Two-year-old male award after his 5,30 length demolition of the field in the Gr 1 Gold Medallion as that took him to four runs unbeaten, including a comfortable 2,35 length win in the Gr 2 WSB SA Nursery and a win in the Gr 3 Protea Stakes. Lucky Lad will still end up on top in the Equus points table for this award. However, he finished last in the Champion Stakes after being jostled early and then caught wide. The stipendiary steward report on the incident says: “a) LUCKY LAD (R Fourie) was awkwardly placed on the inside of SANDRINGHAM SUMMIT (C Habib) shortly after the start etc.”
However, there is no mention of the reason for him finding himself in that “awkwardly placed” position.
The horse in draw 9, Kyomai, jumping at an outward angle coupled with the horse on the very outside, Sandringham Summit, being angled inward after the jump appears to be the combined reason for the incident.
Nevertheless, the incident only caused slight inconvenience to Lucky Lad. Him being trapped out wide from that draw was always going to be a possibility and that is the way it panned out.
It is highly unlikely the trophy would have had a different name on it without that incident at the start, especially considering Sandringham Summit passed the well drawn and previously unbeaten Main Defender as if the latter was standing still and won easing up.
The bare result here has Sandringham Summit facing Lucky Lad in a Gr 1 and beating him by 16,40 lengths. Their only previous meeting was on their respective debuts over 1160m and Lucky Lad prevailed by 0,25 lengths.
So, Saturday’s race and the impression created by the top class Sandringham Summit will likely see him winning both the expert panel vote and the public vote and clinching the award, despite Lucky Lad having won a Gr 1, a Gr 2 and a Gr 3 compared to Sandringham Summit’s Gr 1 and Gr 2.
The Equus Champion Sprinter award sees Isivunguvungu coming right into the picture after winning the Gr 1 wfa Mercury Sprint over 1200m. It will be a close battle for the award between him and Gimme A Prince. Gimme A Prince will remain on top of the points table courtesy of winning a Gr 2 as well as the Gr 1 wfa Pongracz Cape Flying Championship and the Gr 1 Golden Horse Sprint. Isivunguvungu has won two wfa Gr 1s, the other being the Jonsson Workwear Computaform Sprint over 1000m. However, Gimme A Prince’s win with topweight in the Golden Horse Sprint was arguably the best sprinting performance of the season. There is a perfect line pointing to that too, because on Sunday Isivunguvungu beat Surjay and Thunderstruck by 0,30 lengths and 0,60 lengths respectively on weight for age terms, whereas Gimme A Prince beat them by 0,95 lengths and 0,90 lengths respectively giving them 4kg and 6kg respectively over the same distance. The Gr 1 wfa meetings between Isivunguvungu and Gimme A Prince are somewhat ironic because over Isivunguvungu’s best trip of 1000m Gimme A Prince beat him by 1,55 lengths and over Gimme A Prince best trip of 1200m Isivunguvungu prevailed by 1,60 lengths. Isivunguvungu could be said to have been unlucky in the Cape Flying, but equally Gimme A Prince was unlucky on Sunday when taking a bump early which forced him to sit further back than he would have liked. 
Bless My Stars will replace Make It Snappy at the top of the Equus Three-year-old filly award points table. Voters now have a choice between the Gr 1 WSB Cape Fillies Guineas and Gr 1 Cartier Paddock Stakes winner Make It Snappy versus the Gr 1 Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic winner Bless My Stars, who also finished third in the Gr 1 Hollywoodbets Durban July and won the Gr 2 Gold Bracelet.
Was See It Again’s runner up finish in the Champions Cup enough to usurp Charles Dickens from his position as favourite to win the Equus Champion Three-year-old Male Award? It was certainly not enough for the points table part of the award.
The Stayers award will go to World Pool Gold Cup winner Future Pearl, the Middle Distance Award should go to See It Again, the Miler Award should go to Charles Dickens, the Two-year-old filly award will go to Mrs Geriatrix, the Older Female award will go to Princess Calla and the Older Male award looks to be an intriguing fight between Gimme A Prince, Isivunguvungu and Trip Of Fortune.