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Sean Tarry won seven Gr 1s last season and did it with five individuals (Picture: Gold Circle).


Sean Tarry was the leading Gr 1 winner in the season just past with seven in all, which represents 24% of the 29 national Gr 1s on offer, and he achieved it with five individuals.

Candice Bass-Robinson and Brett Crawford each won three Gr 1s and they both did it with two individuals.
Peter Muscutt, Michael Roberts, Mike de Kock, Johan Janse van Vuuren and Michael Roberts all won two Grade 1s and all of them did it with one individual.
Single Gr 2s were won by Justin Snaith, David Nieuwenhuizen, Ricky Maingard, Grant Maroun, Weiho Marwing and Tony Peter.
The season yielded first Gr 1 successes for all of Michael Roberts, Peter Muscutt, David Niewenhuizen, Tony Peter and Grant Maroun.
Justin Snaith, who was crowned champion trainer, once commented that he would have swapped his multitude of wins on Met day for winning the Met itself if he could.
He did win the WSB Met this season, but he would probably have swapped that for the nine Gr 1s he won the previous season if he could.
His season was not helped by the retirement of his superstar Jet Dark (Trippi) after his Met win and by the retirement of the previous season’s Equus Horse Of The Year Captain’s Ransom (Captain Al) after she had suffered three consecutive defeats. His horses also went flat on him in KZN. However, he did have a good stakes earning year thanks to first, third and fifth places in the R7.5 million Gold Rush. So, although he officially only just scraped home in the national championship, he was well clear of the rest if restricted race stakes earnings are included.
However, Tarry got within R338,468 of winning the official championship, an incredible feat considering he had a dispersal sale in late September. The championship seemed as remote as Mars by the end of the Cape Summer, with Snaith well clear.
All of Tarry’s five championships were done with the support of the prolific, big-spending owner Chris van Niekerk, so for Tarry to now be in a championship-winning position again shows how dynamic an operation he runs.       
Tarry’s Princess Calla (Flower Alley) won three Gr 1s last season, the SA Fillies Sprint over 1200m, the Ridgemont Garden Province Stakes over 1600m and the HKJC World Pool Champions Cup over 1800m. The five-year-old mare’s wins were all at weight for age level, although the first two were races restricted to females. She also won three Gr 2’s, all over sprint distances. which makes her open wfa Gr 1 win over 1800m all the more remarkable. She will win Equus Champion Older Female and might be named Equus Horse Of The Year.
Tarry’s dominance of the Festival Of Speed meeting at Hollywoodbets Scottsville might well have been the most dominant Gr 1 training performance in one day in SA history. He said he had not suffered the usual stress associated with watching Gr 1 races that day, because the wins were apparent from a long way out. All Of Mrs Geriatrix (Vercingetorix), Lucky Lad (Gimmethegreenlight) and Princess Calla won Gr 1s easing up by margins of 2,30 lengths, 5,30 lengths and 3,20 lengths respectively. Tarry failed by 0,90 lengths to do the HWB Scottsville Gr 1 grandslam when the previous season’s Gr 1 Gold Medallion winner Thunderstruck (Rafeef) finished second in the Gr 1 Golden Horse Sprint.
Tarry also won the Gr 1 Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic with Bless My Stars (Gimmethegreenlight) and the Gr 1 Woolavington 2000 with Rain In Holland (Duke Of Marmalade). The latter win was particularly noteworthy because it means he has won a Gr 1 with Rain In Holland as a two-year-old, as a three-year-old and as a four-year-old.
Tarry’s chances of winning even more Gr 1s than seven this season and his chances of landing a sixth national championship have been boosted by the arrival of Gr 1-winning champion Cousin Casey (Vercingetorix) in his yard.
Brett Crawford also showed his dynamism last season. He had at least one Gr 1 win and usually multiple Gr 1 wins every season from the 2010/2011 season until the 2020/2021 season, so the Gr 1 blank 2021/2022 season represented a fall because it broke a sequence of eleven consecutive seasons with at least one Gr 1 win. He bounced back in no uncertain terms by winning the Gr 1 WSB Cape Fillies Guineas and Gr 1 Cartier Paddock Stakes with Dynasty filly Make It Snappy. He thus provided the Hollywood Syndicate with their first ever Gr 1 winner. Crawford later lost his tag as a top contender for SA’s best trainer to have never won the July by winning the big Hollywoodbets sponsored event with Winchester Mansion (Trippi). It has been a memorable season for Brett, especially as his son James, who looks after his Highveld satellite yard, played a big part in the July victory.
The most burgeoning yard in the country at present, besides Sean Tarry’s, is the Candice Bass-Robinson yard, whose success this season should have a snowball effect. Charles Dickens (Trippi) needs no introduction and in the Bass’s opinion has usurped Pocket Power as the greatest horse they have had in fifty years of training. He won two prestigious Grade 1s for them, the sire-producing Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas and the wfa Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge, both over 1600m. Candice’s other Gr 1 winner was also by Trippi, Trip Of Fortune, who won the HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes. Trip Of Fortune also won two Gr 2s and a Gr 3 and is the favourite to win the Equus Older Male award. Charles Dickens should be named Equus Champion Miler, Equus Champion Three-year-old male and he could be named Equus Horse Of The Year.   
Michael Roberts has been quiet as a trainer compared to his halcyon days as a jockey, but he showed what he could do if given a top horse. Twice Over colt See It Again won both the Gr 1 Splashout Cape Derby and the Gr 1 Daily News 2000 and should be named Equus Middle Distance champion. His narrow second in the Hollywoodbets Durban July plus second placed finishes in the Champions Cup and Gr 2 WSB Guineas make him a contender for Equus Three-year-old Male Champion and for Horse Of The Year.
Another contender for Equus Champion Older Male is the Johan Janse van Vuuren-trained Argentinian-bred gelding Puerto Manzano, who won both of Jo’burg’s biggest races for prolific owner Laurence Wernars, the Gr 1 Betway Summer Cup and the Gr 1 WSB Premier’s Champions Challenge.
The Dean Kannemeyer-trained Gimme A Prince (Gimmethegreelight) and the the Peter Muscutt-trained Isivunguvungu (What A Winter) will fight out the Equus Champion Sprinter award. Gimme A Prince won the Gr 1 Pongracz Cape Flying Championship and carried topweight to win the Gr 1 Golden Horse Sprint. Isivunguvungu won the Gr 1 Jonsson Workwear Computaform Sprint and the Gr 1 Mercury Sprint. He finished third in the Cape Flying, compared to Gimme A Prince’s fourth in the Mercury, but Gimme A Prince also won a Gr 2 sprint. That pair also have a chance in the Champion Older Male award.
Mike de Kock won the Gr 1 Schweppes Majorca and the Gr 1 HSH Princess Charlene Empress Club Stakes with Desert Miracle (Dynasty), a fine feat considering she has had issues.
Passionate Durban-based racing man Steven Chetty was pinching himself for weeks when his homebred Weiho Marwing-trained Duke Of Marmalade gelding Son Of Raj won the Gr 1 WSB SA Derby, thus earning himself a berth in the Hollywoodbets Durban July.
Durban-based racing man Zeyn Kirsten was behind the purchase of Gimmethegreenlight colt Sandringham Summit for R1.7 million, who became his business partner Rakesh Singh’s first ever horse. The classy colt then provided David Nieuwenhuizen with his first ever Gr 1 winner when storming home in the World Pool Moment Of The Day Champion Stakes. He also won a Gr 2 and is the favourite to be named Equus Champion Two-year-old Male.
Tony Peter also had his first Gr 1 win at the World Pool Gold Cup meeting when Bavarian Beauty (Querari) won the Douglas Whye Thekwini Stakes.
Ricky Maingard’s single Gr 1 winner was with the Australian-bred Al Muthana (Deep Field), but his win in the Gr 1 L’Ormarins King’s Plate was up with the best performances of the season as he downed Charles Dickens.
Grant Maroun’s Coup De Grace gelding Anfields Rocket was bought in training by the Hollywood Syndicate and the latter were rewarded for magnanimously keeping him with Maroun, because he went on to win the Gr 1 WSB SA Classic.