THE South African turf lost a true legend this week with the passing of Wilgerbosdrift’s outstanding broodmare, and former Horse Of The Year Ilha Da Vitoria.
The Brazilian bred daughter of Candy Stripes was South Africa’s Horse Of The Year in 2006 – the same year she was also named Equus Champion Older Female Middle Distance Horse.
Ilha Da Vitoria’s ten wins for Mike de Kock (from 1400-2000m) included seven features –and few who witnessed it will ever forget the brilliant grey romping to a five length win in the 2005 Gr1 Summer Cup.
Her other notable performances included a defeat of champion Overarching in the 2006 Gr1 Horse Chestnut Stakes and a comprehensive, two and three quarter length defeat of another champion, Jamaica, in the 2006 Gr2 GommaGomma Challenge.
Ilha Da Vitoria, who looked an unlucky loser of the 2006 Gr1 J&B Met, also scored notable wins in the Gr2 Elevation Stakes, Gr2 Ipi Tombe Challenge and Gr2 Tibouchina Stakes.
Purchased by Mary and Rachel Slack at one of Brazil’s top sales, she accounted for many of the best horses of her era, with those conquered by Ilha including such Gr1 winners/champions as the above mentioned Overarching and Jamaica, as well as Jam Alley, National Spirit, Fair Maiden, Set Afire, Alastor, African Appeal, Badger’s Gift, Duchess Daba, Sarabande, Rabiya, and Tyson.
Ilha Da Vitoria was also placed in seven other Gr1 races, with her placed efforts including runner up finishes in the Gr1 J&B Met, Gr1 Paddock Stakes, Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas, Gr1 SA Fillies Guineas and Gr1 Garden Province Stakes.
De Kock was quick to pay tribute to his former stable star, saying, “She gave me the most pleasure of any horse I have trained and was something very special.”
A diminutive and charismatic grey, the consistent Ilha Da Vitoria won or placed in 24 of 26 outings, and at the time of her retirement, she was the highest earner in South African racing history.
Her legacy is set to live on –not only in South Africa, but also Brazil.
A few years ago, Ilha Da Vitoria’s daughter Santa Carolina (by Tiger Ridge) was exported to Haras Old Friends (the breeders of Ilha herself), who wished to ensure that Ilha Da Vitoria’s legacy could continue in South America.
Ilha Da Vitoria also left her mark on the South African stud book.
Her six runners to date include five winners, including Gr2 SA Oaks winner Ilha Bela (by Fort Wood), and Listed Oaks Trial winner Ilha Grande (Tiger Ridge). To date, the offspring of Ilha Da Vitoria have won 19 races and earned over R2.1 million.
Both Ilha Bela and Ilha Grande are now broodmares at Wilgerbosdrift, where they will try and continue the legacy of their famous dam.
This year, Ilha dominated the National Yearling Sale, with her colt (by Silvano) named Sark fetching R1 300 000, and her daughter, Ilha Grande, producing the R2 500 000 sales topping filly Lara Yara (by Trippi).
Safe to say, Ilha Da Vitoria will not be forgotten soon by all who knew her. She was a true champion!
-Sporting Post (Sarah Whitelaw).