Jack Milner: Premier’s Champions Challenge winner Coral Fever was named Highveld Horse of the Season at Wednesday night’s Racing Association Awards held in the Aquanaut Room at Turffontein Racecourse.
The Robbie Sage-trained runner has been one of the most consistent runners this season, having finished third in the Grade 1 Sansui Summer Cup, before winning the Grade 2 Colorado King Stakes and the Grade 1 Premier’s Champions Challenge at Turffontein.
He started the Highveld season with a merit rating of 93 and at the conclusion was rated 118.
Owned by Sylvia Vrska and Colin Bird, this five-year-old son of Judpot out of Rich Man’s Gold mare Coral Tree, has now earned R3,443,025 in stakes. He was bred by Ascot Stud and cost R130,000 as a yearling.
Coral Fever came away with two other awards – Champion Older Horse and Champion Middle Distance Horse.
The winners of every category were eligible for the Horse of the Season award.
As is so often the case, some winners are easy to get to while others take hours of discussion and much vociferous arguing.
Takingthepeace, winner of both the Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas and Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic was an obvious choice for the Champion Three-Year-Old Filly award. She certainly captured the imagination of the racing public as she headed into the last leg of the Triple Tiara and the fact that owners Mike Shea and Murray Makepeace wear their hearts on their sleeves added to the attraction.
However, the judges’ debate on the colts must have gone on a while. Many take the view that Grade 1 results take preference over Grade 2 and Grade 3 races, while others just take the quality of each performance into account.
In the end, the award went to Alistair Gordon-trained Monks Hood, who won both the Grade 2 Investec Dingaans and the Grade 2 Gauteng Guineas. Both races were over 1600m.
There is no question that Lobo’s Legend, Hero’s Honour and Surcharge all deserved their nominations.
The human awards are based on a point system and this season the prize for Champion Trainer could not have got any closer. Mike de Kock edged out Sean Tarry by just one point – 120 to 119.
Champion Jockey went to Muzi Yeni, who won two Grade 1 races this season – aboard Coral Fever (Premier’s Champions Challenge) and Lobo’s Legend (SA Classic) – while Lyle Hewitson was named top apprentice.
Champion Owner went to Jessica Slack (Mauritzfontein Stud) who finished just four points ahead of Chris van Niekerk.
The following points system was used for the human awards:
(1st 2nd 3rd)
Grade 1 12 9 7
Grade 2 9 6 4
Grade 3 6 3 1
Listed 2 – –
The voting panel comprised Alistair Cohen, Clyde Basel and Larry Wainstein, with Vee Moodley as the non-voting chairman of the panel.
2018 RA AWARD WINNERS
Champion Two-Year-Old filly: Ronnie’s Candy
Other nominees: Celtic Sea, Dagmar
Champion Two-Year-Old Colt/Gelding: William the Silent
Nominee: Bold Eagle
Champion Three-Year-Old Filly: Takingthepeace
Nominees: Folk Dance, Green Plains, Secret Potion
Champion Three-Year-Old Colt/Gelding: Monks Hood
Nominees: Hero’s Honour, Lobo’s Legend, Surcharge
Champion Older Horse: Coral Fever
Nominees: Attenborough, Legal Eagle, Liege, Nother Russia
Champion Sprinter: Attenborough
Nominees: Pinnacle Peak, Tandava, The Thinker
Champion Middle Distance Horse: Coral Fever
Nominees: Legal Eagle, Monkshood, Nother Russia
Champion Stayer: Hero’s Honour
Nominees: Fortissima, Just Cruised In, Let it Rain, Secret Potion
Champion Work Rider: Samuel Mosia
Winner of the work rider series: Goodman Dadamasi
Champion Breeder: Varsfontein Stud (76 points)
Dead-heat for runners-up Summerhill and Ascot (both on 68)
Champion Apprentice: Lyle Hewitson
Champion Jockey: Muzi Yeni
Champion Trainer: Mike de Kock
Champion Owner: Mauritzfontein Stud (Jessica Slack)
Champion Horse of the Season: Coral Fever