ONE guess for who this proud 10-year-old gelding is? His coat was unmistakenly grey when he raced in owner Tony Moodley’s silks between 2003 and 2008 but now, in his retirement, Equal Image has shed his shady curls for a coat of near almost white.
Durbanite Erinn Dempsey, who ‘inherited’ Equal Image from Moodley, will argue that her generous gift’s grand new coat comes from the philosopher Plato’s Chariot Allegory, in which the ‘White Horse’ is described as “spirited”, irascible and bold”!
Equal Image is not just the lazy new hack on the veteran’s block situated just a few minutes’ steady canter away from and on the same premises as the Summerveld training centre where, as a racehorse he was put through his paces along with Mike de Kock’s string. He’s blossomed into a proud competitor in several Equestrian Disciplines, making his mark in showjumping, dressage and cross country racing.
He’s already earned Erinn a few prize rosettes, including Champion Working Hunter and South African Supreme Champion Working Horse at the SA Championships held in Parys, Free State where they competed for the KwaZulu-Natal Show Team.
Now, Equal Image could be heading for Paris, France! Erinn tells: “He’s on a long list, with a chance of joining a Development Programme to go to the 2014 World Equestrian Games in France. He will need to complete all his qualifying rounds successfully.”
Equal Image is as happy as any 10-year-old can ever hope to be. Erin says: “He’s a very easy horse to work with and is always trying his hardest. Even when he doesn’t quite understand what to do, he will still give it his best shot. He can be a bit lazy and chilled sometimes so he get lots of oats and some high energy food to keep him going. He has really taken well to his life after racing and loves going for long hacks, especially when he hears the sound of the exercise treadmill at the racing stables he gets excited and shakes his head. I’d like to thank Tony Moodley once more. Equal has really come on so fast in the two years I’ve have had him!”
Moodley banked 10 winners’ cheques after he’d put down his money when Mike, Jehan Malherbe and John McVeigh secured Equal Image as a yearling in Argentina in 2002. By Equalize from Important Girl, he was imported to South Africa in 2003.
Almost exactly a year after his Maiden win, on 18 October 2005, Equal Image won the Grade 2 Victory Moon Handicap under Brett Smith and then made his first of three attempts at the Summer Cup in which he failed every time, showing a dislike for Turffontein’s standside track.
In between his largely below-par Summer seasons in Gauteng, however, Equal Image excelled on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. Racing in Durban, he came into his own year after year.
He won the Grade 3 Kings Cup over 1600m in April 2006 and then ran a great race in the 2006 Durban July, third across the line to Eyeofthethetiger. He kept his form and recorded his greatest thriumph at the end of July, 2006, winning the Grade 1 Champions Cup over 1800m under Weichong Marwing.
Back at Greyville on July Day, 2007, he won the Durban July Consolation (Listed), interestingly clocking a time of 133.40s in the hands of Kevin Shea, more than a second faster than the time recorded by Hunting Tower, who won the Durban July over the same course and distance, barely an hour later!
Equal Image won once more during his favourite time of the year and this was again on July Day when he bagged the Grade 2 Gold Vase over 3000m on 5 July 2008, again partnered by Shea. He excelled yet again on July day in 2009, taking fourth place in the Gold Vase, but he’d shown by then that he was about ready to call it a day and was retired in August 2009.
Equal Image raced 62 times for 10 wins and 17 places. He won R1,374, 985 in stakes. His exploits also won owner Moodley a KZN Champions Season award in 2006.
Headline photo: Erinn Dempsey in the prizewinner’s enclosure with Equal Image.