REMEMBERING HILTI (1999 -2005)
Hilti in action, on his way to winning the 2005 Emerald Cup.
JUST more than five years ago to this day,on Sunday 25 September 2005. the Mike de Kock-traimed five-year-old gelding Hilti, ridden by Willy Figueroa, won the inaugural running of the Emerald Cup at the Vaal.
The ungraded race was run over 1 400m for a stake of R200 000 and the field included Grade 1 winner National Spirit, course specialist Wild Cherry and the later exported Drift Ice, who would go on to race succcesfully in Dubai.
Hilti, a big and powerful galloper by Fort Wood from Rawl Plug, made his fitness count and proved to be in a class of his own on the day, winning under top weight of 59.5kg. He ran on stronger than his rivals and beat National Spirit by 1.25 lengths, followed by Tigray in third.
At the time Mike paid tribute to the stable’s erstwhile assistant trainer Quinton Watt and said: ”Quinton is the man who has worked with Hilti all season, and he deserves all the credit.’’
As a young horse, Hilti was always considered a serious prospect and he won his first three races on grass without much fuss. Due to his size his was caught flatfooted in the three-year-old classics of his year, but still managed a fourth place in the Dingaans behind subsequent international winner Surveyor.
Hilti matured well when gelded as a four-year-year-old. He showed a liking for the sand, winning five starts contested at the track and defeated narrowly on another occasion by multiple stakes winner The Badger.
Classy and versatile, his turf runs included a fourth place in the November Handicap over 1800m to Duchess Daba, a close second to July winner Hunting Tower in a 1400m handicap and, in what would be his last start on 18 Novenber 2005, a 1600m win over Polo Classic, a former J&B Met winner.
In a sad blow to everyone in the stable, Hilti fell seriously ill after a medical procedure shortly after this win and after a courageous fightback had to be euthanized at a time when he was approaching the peak of his career.
In total Hilti raced 31 times for 9 wins and 11 places, earning R613 000 in stakes for owner Bridget Oppenheimer, who won the race again at the weekend and interestingly so with another son of Fort Wood.