ITs quite astonishing how quickly the prize money for the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup has catapulted to its new level of R2,5 million. We need to remember that just five years ago it made headlines at R500 000, and today there is only one race in South Africa for more money, and that’s the Vodacom Durban July at R3million.
It’s something of a compliment to the Emperors Palace Ready To Run sale and its graduates that it has escalated so dramatically, particularly as it started out as little more than a graduation plate contested by one and two time winners, and in its first year, by the odd promising maiden, or so its detractors thought.
That the inaugural field for the Ready To Run Cup, included such luminaries as Imbongi, Umngazi, Phunyuka, Art Of War and Galant Gagnant, was testimony to the old adage, invented by the outstanding graduates of the sale themselves over time, that this, pound-for-pound, is the best sale of quality racehorses on the continent. By the time the fourth renewal came around in 2010, Hollywooodboulevard and Igugu led home another procession of high achievers, lending a measure of credibility to Summerhill’s chant that it might eclipse all sales in the world for value, particularly as running had included in its field a stream of Group and Listed winners.
Let’s not forget, Igugu was not only Horse of the Year in 2011, but she led all-comers by prize money that year, and followed up with a stirring victory in the J&B Met (Gr.1) in January of this year. Twelve months before, her predecessor in the Ready To Run Cup, the R60 000 graduate Pierre Jourdan, was again the nation’s top earner when his immediate victim in the Cup was the subsequent Gerald Rosenberg and Gauteng Fillies Guineas heroine, Fisani, and in the slip stream that day was this year’s “nearly” horse in the Durban July, Smanjemanje.
That the race has earned its stripes then is beyond doubt; that it is likely to achieve even greater heights going forward is on the cards, even though the record suggests it’s a hard act to follow. This year’s entry is the deepest on paper, not only in terms of its numbers, but especially in the ink on the catalogue page.
Speaking to consignors, there is a quiet air of expectation among them in what they’re seeing on their work tracks at this early stage.
The message here, for aspirant buyers wanting to scoop the prize (and it’s worth noting, they pay all the way down to tenth place, where the money is still as much as R50 000) is they should remember when the hammer falls in their favour, to “tick the box”. That way, you buy yourself a ticket for the game, knowing that you only have to have a win under your belt and a little bit of luck, to get yourself a run for R2,5 million. By contrast, the only other race carrying this sort of prize money is the J&B Met (Gr.1,) and we all know what it takes to have a runner at the start for that one.