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The South African racing archives are not kept in such a way that records can be quickly checked and announcements of new records are sometimes open to question.
One such case was when it was announced immediately after the Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge that Richard Fourie had equaled Jeff Lloyd’s record of seven Grade 1s in a season.
Lloyd did indeed ride seven Grade 1’s in the 2006/2007 season and Fourie has equalled that this season … both incredible feats.
However, considering there used to probably be more Grade 1s in a season than there are today and the like of Michael Roberts won eleven South African Championships, whilst Felix Coetzee was stable jockey to Terrance Millard during the latter’s era of dominance, it was worth looking through the archives to ascertain whether seven is in fact the record.
A figure of seven was found for both of the aforementioned jockeys without reference to the official archives and by rather inefficient means.
In the 1983/1984 season Michael Roberts had at least the following Grade 1 wins: He won both the Cape Guineas and the Mainstay International on Turncoat, he won both the Sun International and Clairwood Champion Stakes on Spanish Pool, he won the SA Oaks on Novenna, the Administrator’s Champion Juvenile Stakes on Be Noble and the Chairman’s Stakes on Ted’s Ambition.
In the 1987/1988 season Felix Coetzee had at least the following Grade 1 wins: He won the SA Guineas, the Schweppes Challenge and the Durban July on Royal Chalice, the Met on Mark Anthony, the SA Fillies Sprint on Splendid Ann, the Cape Fillies Guineas on Kiss Of Peace and the Gold Cup on Castle Walk.
The two accumulative totals for Roberts and Coetzee above were found without much data at one’s disposal.
All of Coetzee’s above race wins were indisputably Grade 1 events at the time, whilst Roberts’ list includes two races, the SA Oaks and the Chairman’s Stakes, which often flitted between Grade 1 and Grade 2 status, so those will have to de double-checked.
However, it would be no great surprise if somewhere in the annals there has been an achievement of more than seven Grade 1s in a season.
There should be an official search through the archives to unearth the unquestionable record.
However, this in no way intends to detract from the world class riding of Richard Fourie this season, which has seen him accumulate 24 stakes wins.
He still has a fine chance of reaching a magical 8 Grade 1 wins on Marshalls World Of Sport Gold Cup day and that might be a record.