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The great Wolf Power won the Gold Challenge (then known as the Clairwood Champions Stakes) twice and his rider in this picture of him at Scottsville, Michael Roberts, partnered him in the 1982 renewal at Clairwood. Roberts has a runner as a trainer this year in See It Again, while Wolf Power’s trainer Ricky Maingard also has a runner this year in Al Muthana, who won it in 2022 when trained by Mike de Kock (Picture: southafricanhorse.wordpress.com)  

Looking back through the history of the Gr 1 weight for age Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge there have always been great fields in year’s ending in four and this year’s renewal is no exception.

Fifty years ago in 1974 the race, which used to be run over a mile at Clairwood, saw two famous horses in Yataghan and Elevation locking horns in a thrilling duel for the line and it was the Syd Laird-trained Yataghan who got up under Bertie Hayden to win by a shorthead.

Forty years ago the trainer of one of this year’s runners, Michael Roberts, won the race by three lengths on the mighty Irish-bred David Payne-trained Spanish Pool. The runner up Rise And Rule was also ridden by a present day Summerveld trainer Gavin van Zyl, who has handed over the reins of his yard to his son Gareth, but he does still assist. The like of Rain Forest, Gondolier, the great Wolf Power, Arctic Cove and Craftsman were among the vanquished in 1984.

Thirty years ago another top horse, the Peter Kannemeyer-trained Pas De Quoi, won it by a long-head as a seven-year-old under Gavin Howes. This horse could have been among the all time greats had he not been maliciously attacked as a three-year-old by a vindictive groom and had his legs slashed. He was trained at the time by Geoff Woodruff and his succcessful season as a seven-year-old was his second attempt at a comeback for Kannemeyer. He also won the Met for Kannemeyer in that amazing comeback season and would almost certainly have won the July had he not been badly hampered twice in the straight. In his Challenge victory he defeated the like of Take A Walk, the great miler and July winner Flaming Rock, Eldoriza, Vesta and Dancing Duel.

In 2004 the great Geoff Woodruff-trained Yard-Arm won it by 3,50 lengths under Mark Khan from the amazingly versatile Key Of Destiny with Domino Man next best and the like of Set Afire and Celtic Grove well beaten.

Ten years ago in 2014 saw the great race’s last ever Clairwood-based renewal and it was the 33/1 outsider, the Joey Ramsden-trained King Of Pain, who produced a superb performance under Bernard Fayd’Herbe to beat the darling of the SA turf, Beach Beauty, with the top class Yorker third ahead of Capetown Noir while the the like of former July winner Pomodoro ran unplaced.

A look at the list of all the Gold Challenge’s winners (below) shows that this race could well boast the best winners’ roll of any race in the country with multiple winners including greats like Rainbow Bridge, Variety Club, Free My Heart, Flaming Rock, Spanish Pool, Wolf Power, Over The Air and Sentinel. Not one of the winners of this race looks out of place.

June 10 2023 CHARLES DICKENS
June 11 2022 AL MUTHANA
June 12 2021 RAINBOW BRIDGE
June 28 2020 RAINBOW BRIDGE
June 08 2019 DO IT AGAIN
June 09 2018 UNDERCOVER AGENT
June 10 2017 CAPTAIN AMERICA
June 11 2016 MAC DE LAGO
June 06 2015 LEGISLATE
June 07 2014 KING OF PAIN
June 08 2013 VARIETY CLUB
June 09 2012 VARIETY CLUB
June 13 2011 DANCEWITHTHEDEVIL
June 12 2010 BIG CITY LIFE
June 13 2009 POCKET POWER
June 14 2008 DANCER’S DAUGHTER
June 09 2007 SUCCESFUL BIDDER
June 10 2006 NATIONAL SPIRIT
June 11 2005 WINTER SOLSTICE
June 12 2004 YARD-ARM
June 14 2003 SET AFIRE
June 08 2002 FREE MY HEART
June 09 2001 CELTIC GROVE
June 10 2000 FREE MY HEART
June 12 1999 JET MASTER
June 13 1998 GOLDEN HOARD
June 14 1997 SECRETARY GENERAL
June 15 1996 ELDORIZA
June 10 1995 RECORD EDGE
June 11 1994 PAS DE QUOI
June 12 1993 FLAMING ROCK
June 13 1992 FLAMING ROCK
June 15 1991 FLAMING ROCK
June 16 1990 JUNGLE WARRIOR
June 10 1989 PRICELESS ASSET
June 11 1988 ROYAL CHALICE
June 13 1987 MODEL MAN
June 14 1986 FOOLS HOLME
June 15 1985 SPANISH POOL
June 16 1984 SPANISH POOL
June 11 1983 WOLF POWER
June 12 1982 WOLF POWER
June 13 1981 OVER THE AIR
June 14 1980 OVER THE AIR
June 16 1979 OVER THE AIR
June 10 1978 POLITICIAN
June 11 1977 BOLD MONARCH
June 12 1976 GATECRASHER
June 14 1975 SLEDGEHAMMER
June 15 1974 YATAGHAN
June 16 1973 SENTINEL
June 10 1972 SENTINEL

Who is going to win it this year?

Main Defender is the 33/10 favourite with the sponsor and then it is Sandringham Summit on 7/2, Lucky Lad on 4/1, See It Again on 11/2, Dave The King on 8/1, Snow Pilot at 10/1, Cousin Casey at 25/2, Gladatorian and Royal Aussie at 20/1, Gimmeanotherchance at 25/1, Bingwa at 33/1, Itsraingwilliam at 40/1 and Al Muthana at 40/1.