Sunday sees the running of one of the world’s great turf contests –the G1 Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup.
There are a number of South African connections to this HK$20 000 000 contest, with Mike de Kock saddling former G1 Investec Cape Derby winner Ertijaal, in a race he has previously won with Irridescence (2006) and Archipenko (2008) respectively. A son of Hard Spun, Ertijaal will be ridden by South African rider, and former multiple Hong Kong champion jockey, Douglas Whyte.
Another runner in the race of major interest to local punters is the South African bred runner Horse Of Fortune, who won the Listed Sophomore Sprint in South Africa, when racing under the moniker of Strongman. The talented performer has done precious little wrong since he arrived in Hong Kong,
A son of Summerhill Stud’s late sire Stronghold, Horse Of Fortune (who is trained by former South African champion Tony Millard), has won four times in Hong Kong, and is seeking a hatrick in Sunday’s big race –having won his past two starts over 1650m and 1800m respectively. His last win saw Horse Of Fortune prevail impressively by two and three quarter lengths in the Happy Valley Vase where his beaten rivals included former G2 UAE Derby winner Helene Happy Star (formerly Lines Of Battle).
Excitingly for his connections, Horse Of Fortune is a half brother to lot 367, a colt from the first crop of European champion and four time G1 winner Twice Over. The latter, whose relatives include 2016 classic hope Antonoe, has already proved popular in the sales ring, where his stock have fetched up to R1 000 000, and Twice Over (from the potent Mr Prospector male line) looks a really exciting young sire.
The Twice Over colt (consigned by Drakenstein Stud as agent) and Horse Of Fortune are both out of the top class racemare Sweet Virginia, whose six wins include two legs of the Winter series –the G3 Winter Classic and G3 Winter Derby, as well as the G3 Final Fling Stakes. Remarkably, Horse Of Fortune is not Sweet Virginia’s only high class overseas based runner –her son Mighty Emperor has won twice in Singapore.
It could be a big weekend for the daughter of Sadler’s Wells horse Casey Tibbs (also broodmare sire of Australian based G1 winner Do You Remember) –with Sweet Virginia’s son, Vilikazi a confirmed runner in Saturday’s G3 Tekkie Town Winter Guineas.
From an outstanding family which includes Equus Champion Dancewiththedevil, as well as G1 winners Mill Hill and Smart As Paint, this is also the family of eye catching recent debut winner, Beataboutthebush.
Safe to say, lot 367 looks a truly classic prospect!