Snaith Racing is helping racing folk fill their lockdown time with online polls about the good old days. This week the stable’s Twitter site is hosting the age-old argument: Who was South Africa’s greatest racehorse of all time (GOAT)?
The Snaiths – former champion trainer Justin and his assistants, brother Jonathan and father Chris – have whittled it down to 10 names for the public to vote on. Inevitably, racing fans will have their own favourites, not on this particular list – so the lively exchanges of opinion are not just about the selection offered but about the talents of many other wonderful horses that have graced the local turf.
These are the 10 you can vote for (in the order they appear on the voting form):
The debate has been picked up by racing paper Sporting Post, which has a rapidly lengthening comments thread on the topic – featuring some well-known racing names. Veteran racing journalist Dave Mollett weighs in for Hawaii, while colleagues David Thiselton and Andrew Bon pick Horse Chestnut. Gold Circle stalwarts Graeme Hawkins and Andrew Harrison go for Horse Chestnut and (snubbed) In Full Flight, respectively.
The Snaiths resisted the temptation to include their two-time Durban July winner Do It Again, who, by the time he concludes his career, might well make it into the Top 10.
So, what about Sledgehammer, who great jockey Muis Roberts said was the best horse he rode in this country? What about London News, who went to Hong Kong and beat the world’s best?
If we go back a bit in time, names such as three-time Summer Cup winners Elevation and Java pop up. In his day, during the war years, Joburg-based Lenin was hailed as the best-ever. Going even further back, the legendary Pamphlet won two Julys and held pride of place in the heart of that finest of horsemen Syd Garrett.
Returning to living memory, a candidate for the list must have been “The Iron Horse”, Sentinel, who raced from age two to seven and had 12 Grade 1 titles among his 29 wins on eight different racecourses.
Other “long-listers” might have been William Penn, Ilustrador, Gatecrasher, Mark Anthony, Prince Florimund, Model Man and Variety Club.
Was Empress Club the finest female? Igugu, Ipi Tombe, Dancer’s Daughter, Ilha Da Vittoria?
Another question: why are out-and-out sprinters seldom in the reckoning for GOAT? The likes of Golden Loom, Harry Hotspur, JJ The Jet Plane, Riza and Black Cap present a case.
Still, the Snaith 10 is a mighty coterie. Imagining them lining up against each other quickens the pulse of any racing aficionado.
Who would win? The poll runs until 3 May and you can influence the outcome by going to @snaithracing or @sportingpost.
On the morning of 28 April, out in front, making the pace, was Horse Chestnut with 43% of the vote. In second was Mowgli, just ahead of Sea Cottage, Politician and Wolf Power. Bringing up the rear, surprisingly, was the magnificent Hawaii.
But as we know in racing, things change quickly.
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