Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it, it’s been said.
The Summer Cup has plenty of history. The first version of this famous horse race was staged in 1887, about a year after the first gold was dug up on the ridge of veld that became Joburg.
The place was a gold-rush tent camp at that stage, but desperadoes who’d flocked in from all over the world fancied a gamble and there were plenty of horses to hand.
What have we learnt from the Summer Cup’s long history?
One thing leaps out when you look at the records: names tend to repeat themselves. Horses, trainers and jockeys who win once often go on to do it again – and sometimes again.
Former champion trainer Geoff Woodruff racked up four victories in a row just a few years back, having also tasted success in the 1990s. Rival Sean Tarry has claimed the last two runnings, bringing his total to three.
Both men have runners on Saturday.
Two of Woodruff’s victories were with Master Sabina, who tried but couldn’t get a third to emulate hat-tricks achieved back in the day – by Java in the 1950s and by Elevation in the 1970s.
But no-one has dominated the Summer Cup like Mike de Kock. The celebrated trainer has NINE winning trophies in his cabinet.
He knows what it takes to land these spoils. Yet he has striven for eight years to reach the magical 10 victories.
Nonetheless, never in that time has he looked as likely to do so as he does this Saturday.
The Grade 1 Gauteng Chris Gerber Summer Cup will be run at Turffontein over 2000m, with the big race forming part of an auspicious 12-race programme.
De Kock sends out a fearsome platoon of five runners and bookmakers are taking no chances, shoving all of them to the top of the betting boards. Joint favourites at 7-2 are Soqrat and Barahin. Queen Supreme is 6-1, Cascapedia 14-1 and Atyaab 16-1.
Few punters are going to gamble too heavily on beating Team de Kock.
But racing – and the future – is never a done deal. If we go back to the history books, we find a recent trend that favours outsiders, not favourites.
Only one outright favourite has won in the past 10 years – Louis The King at 18-10 in 2014. The decade’s winners have included Flirtation at 25-1; and Aslan, Dancewiththedevil, Wagner and Liege all at 16-1.
So, analysing history can get confusing; which bits do you choose for the prediction? Hence, there’s another saying: If history teaches us anything it’s that we learn nothing from it!
In the end, the balance of probability is heavily in favour of a De Kock blitzkrieg. Soqrat is a superior animal to any of his rivals – possibly barring Barahin – and would be close to odds-on if it wasn’t for his wide No 14 barrier draw. One of his stablemates might take the narrow gap the draw opens up, but I doubt it.
The Quartet pool on the Summer Cup is likely to hit a massive R7 million and it would be folly not to include all the De Kock runners in combinations for that bet type.
Most major races throw up a surprise or two in the placings, so one must sniff out a long-shot or two to include in a Quartet structure. My fancies are Al Mutawakel (15-1), Green Haze (22-1), Infamous Fox (28-1) and Flying Winger (35-1).
A Pick 6 of R15 million has also been sent to tempt us. Here, too, history might help.
The leading trainers – De Kock, Tarry, Woodruff and the likes of Paul Peter and Johan Janse van Vuuren – target big race meetings like this, so their charges must be given extra consideration.
Everyone likes to win on a big day – it makes you a little part of history.
SELECTION: Turffontein, Race 7 – 1 Soqrat, 2 Barahin, 14 Queen Supreme, 3 Infamous Fox
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