SUN International’s involvement in racing goes back many decades and in the 1980s they sponsored the Gr1 R350,000 Sun International, a race which has now evolved to the Champions Challenge.
In mid-1987, just after the Equine Flu had crippled the entire SA industry for six months, champion trainer Jean Heming landed the Sun International with Pedometer (photo), who slammed his rivals by 14 lengths under jockey Jeff Lloyd and bettered Furious’ course record by 1,26s.
The event was robbed of glitter at nomination stage when neither champion five-year-old Model Man, based at Clairwood, nor champion Bush Telegraph, resting on a farm in the Cape, were entered.
SA Racehorse reported: “Not one Natal-based runner was among the 18 final acceptors and only Cape-based trainer Ralph Rixon saved the race from the boredom of an all-Highveld field and ran three in the big race – Honey Bear, Heir To Riches and Melun, who was coming off a fourth in the July Handicap.
“A Turffontein panel grabbed the headlines when eliminating owner Tony Factor’s top four-year-old Desert Legend at final acceptance stage, when six runners had to be eliminated to reduce the maximum field to 18.” Factor dropped the case with a warning to officials.
Heming took the race by the scruff of its neck. Pedometer’s stablemate Swift and Bold raced past Voodoo Charm to set a cracking pace which had all but Pedometer (in second) gasping for breath racing up the Turffontein hill and towards the home bend.
Pedometer pounced at the 500m mark, going three lengths clear. He extended to six lengths going through the 400m mark and hit the line 14 lengths ahead of Uncle Percy and Heir To Riches.
Bred by Fred and Henry Doms, Pedometer was a son of Averof and the Jamaico-mare Aico, Pedometer raced for Hans Scheffer, Dave Lehman and partners. He was a R20,000 purchase from the National Yearling Sale of 1985.
Heming, at the time constantly under scrutiny for the sin of winning races, and winning them well, suggested that Pedometer was the swan in a field of geese.
“Pedometer beat a seasoned campaigner called Uncle Percy and several other weak horses in the Sun International. He was a star himself, he had a high cruising speed and he and won on merit alone. There was nothing sinister about it!” Heming said in Legends Of The Turf Volume 1 (Charl Pretorius, 2008).