There was good news for racing aficionados on Tuesday when colt Ikigai and filly Summer Pudding were named as final acceptors for Saturday’s Classic meeting at Turffontein.
It means both the Triple Crown and Triple Tiara are still live in 2020 and we could quite conceivably see the two honours being lifted in the same year – for the first time.
Ikigai and Summer Pudding won the Triple first legs a month ago – the 1600m Gauteng Guineas races – and now tackle the next challenge, the SA Classic and Wilgerbosdrift Fillies Classic over 1800m.
Importantly for fan excitement and expectation, both youngsters have the pedigrees to get the arduous 2450m of the final legs – the SA Derby and SA Oaks – a few weeks down the line.
As with most racing traditions, the Triple Crown originated in England, with the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket (2000m), the Derby at Epsom (2450m) and the St Leger at Doncaster (3000m) designated as the supreme test for talented three-year-old horses.
In recent years, though, this famous hat-trick has become almost a discarded relic, with owners and trainers of Derby winners reluctant to try the St Leger, partly because of breeding value considerations. In a world focused on middle-distance speed, the marathon in Yorkshire has fallen from favour.
The last UK Triple Crown champion was the great Nijinsky in 1970; very few potential winners have even tried it since – with one notable exception, Camelot in 2012, who narrowly failed when finishing second in the St Leger.
The US Triple Crown has been more celebrated in modern times, probably because the various race distances are similar. The Yankee version kicks off with the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs (2000m), with the Preakness Stakes (1900m) at Pimlico in Baltimore next up and the Belmont Stakes (2400m) in New York the clincher.
Thoroughbreds have been immortalised in American popular culture thanks to their Triple Crowns: War Admiral, Secretariat, Seattle Slew and American Pharoah.
South Africa’s Triple Crown was introduced in the 1990s, with Horse Chestnut annexing it at the turn of the millennium. It took 15 years until another colt was able to match the feat – Louis The King in 2014. Then Abashiri performed the trick in 2016.
The Triple Tiara has been won by the mighty fillies Igugu and Cherry On The Top.
Interestingly, Cherry On The Top’s half-sister, Cherry On The Cake, is the dam of Summer Pudding. The latter has been installed as even-money favourite for Saturday’s Fillies Classic.
9-2 Frosted Gold
8-1 Green Lazer, Youcanthurrylove
10-1 Got The Greenlight
20-1 and upwards the others
SA Fillies Classic:
1-1 Summer Pudding
4-1 Victoria Paige
13-2 Rio’s Winter
17-2 Mill Queen
20-1 Dancing Feather, Pomander
25-1 and upwards the others.
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