Oppenheimer women mine silverware at Equus Awards

A Lifetime Achievement Award was conferred on Mary Slack, daughter of 20th-century racing legends Harry and Bridget Oppenheimer. Their granddaughter Jessica's Jell's unbeaten filly Summer Pudding was named Horse of the Year. Summer Pudding was bred by the mother-daughter team of Slack and Jell, who have combined their breeding operations of Wilgerbosdrift and Mauritzfontein. This helped them to the special Outstanding Breeder Award for the season recently concluded. There was more. The family's amazing mare Halfway To Heaven – mother of three Grade 1 champions from as many foals – was unsurprisingly Broodmare of the Year for the second year...
A Lifetime Achievement Award was conferred on Mary Slack, daughter of 20th-century racing legends Harry and Bridget Oppenheimer. Their granddaughter Jessica's Jell's unbeaten filly Summer Pudding was named Horse of the Year.

Summer Pudding was bred by the mother-daughter team of Slack and Jell, who have combined their breeding operations of Wilgerbosdrift and Mauritzfontein. This helped them to the special Outstanding Breeder Award for the season recently concluded.

There was more. The family's amazing mare Halfway To Heaven – mother of three Grade 1 champions from as many foals – was unsurprisingly Broodmare of the Year for the second year running; while Patrick Mankwe got a special award as groom of the Horse of the Year.

Slack has been much in the news recently with her company Mary Oppenheimer Daughters coming to the rescue of the South African racing industry with R650-million in funding to bail out operator Phumelela, which entered voluntary business rescue.

However, Slack's triumphs at the 2020 Equus Awards – presented as a television show instead of the usual banquet bash – was no simple payback for that gesture. She has invested vast amounts of money into her breeding venture at Wilgerbosdrift, not least through the importation of the world's top bloodlines, and remains a prolific and highly successful owner.

Lifetime achievement recognition would have been entirely appropriate even without the business rescue intervention.

Summer Pudding was the sentimental favourite among racing fans for the top equine award even though she only raced against her own sex and age group in clocking up her four-from-four seasonal record (and seven-from-seven over two seasons). A reader poll by Sporting Post saw trainer Paul Peter's charismatic charge get 41% of the vote, with Joey Soma's crack colt Got The Greenlight on 12% and Mike de Kock's Hawwaam on 11%.

Summer Pudding landed a rare fillies classics Triple Tiara in the coronavirus-disrupted season, before travelling to Durban and claiming the Woolavington 2000 from a hopeless position at the top of the lane.

Her Equus Three-Year-Old Filly trophy was almost an aside in the broader scheme of the evening – hosted on the Tellytrack channel by popular presenting veterans Nico Kritsiotis and Neil Andrews.

Keeping with the family theme, Summer Pudding's sire Silvano, who stands at Maine Chance Farms at Robertson in Western Cape, was Champion Stallion, with runners that won more than R13 million over the season. He edged out another former champion, the deceased Captain Al, who amassed nearly R12 million in prizemoney.

Another Robertson farm, Klawervlei Stud, took the Champion Breeder title. Klawervlei's R19.8 million in race earnings just pipped Wilgerbosdrift & Mauritzfontein, which recorded R19.3 million.

Another big Equus winner was the aforementioned Got The Greenlight, who won the Champion Three-Year-old Male and Champion Middle Distance statuettes for his wins in the Grade 1 SA classic and the Grade 1 Daily News 2000 and a superb second to Belgarion in the Vodacom Durban July.

Tempting Fate, winner of the Grade 1 Golden Horseshoe at Scottsville was crowned Champion Two-Year-Old Colt, while Anything Goes got the female gong.

In most years, titans Hawwaam and Rainbow Bridge would never have come away from the Equus do empty-handed. But 2020 is no ordinary year.

All the winners:

Champion Two-Year-Old Colt: Tempting Fate (other nominees: Erik the Red, Mount Pleasant, Nourbese)/\r\n/
Champion Two-Year-Old Filly: Anything Goes (Sentbydestiny, Vernichey)/\r\n/
Champion Three-Year-Old Colt: Got The Greenlight' (Golden Ducat)/\r\n/
Champion Three-Year-Old Filly: Summer Pudding (Missisippi)/\r\n/
Champion Older Male: One World (Belgarion, Hawwaam, Rainbow Bridge, Vardy)/\r\n/
Champion Older Filly/Mare: Celtic Sea (Clouds Unfold, Queen Supreme, Ronnie's Candy, Temple Grafin)/\r\n/
Champion Sprinter: Russet Air (Celtic Sea, Rivarine, Van Halen, Warrior's Rest)/\r\n/
Champion Miler: Vardy (Hawwaam, Rainbow Bridge)/\r\n/
Champion Middle Distance: Got The Greenlight (Belgarion, Golden Ducat, Hawwaam, One World, Rainbow Bridge, Summer Pudding)/\r\n/
Champion Stallion: Silvano/\r\n/
Champion Breeder: Klawervlei Stud/\r\n/
Champion Broodmare: Halfway To Heaven/\r\n/
Outstanding South African Breeder Award: Wilgerbosdrift & Mauritzfontein/\r\n/
Lifetime Achievement Award: Mary Slack/\r\n/
Champion Jockey: Warren Kennedy/\r\n/
Champion Apprentice Jockey: Luke Ferraris/\r\n/
Champion Trainer: Sean Tarry/\r\n/
Champion Owner: Chris van Niekerk/\r\n/
Horse of The Year: Summer Pudding/\r\n/
Special Award to groom of Horse of the Year: Patrick Mankwe

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