By Sarah Whitelaw
Variety Club joined a select group of great South African Thoroughbreds named Horse of the Year on more than one occasion when he was honored for the second year in a row at a glittering ceremony in Johannesburg Aug. 14.
The chestnut son of Var was also named champion miler and champion older male.
Owned by Markus and Ingrid Jooste, the country's leading owners, the handsome colt had an unbeaten five-race winning streak during the 2012-13 season that ended July 31. Variety Club, bred by the Beaumont Stud and trained by Joey Ramsden, won two of the country's top 1,600 meter (about one mile), grade I contests (L'Ormarins Queen's Plate and Rising Sun Challenge) during the season. Now a winner of his last eight races on the trot (and 11 of his past 13), Variety Club has gone into quarantine prior to embarking on an international campaign.
Another horse who was winning an award for the second year in a row was What A Winter, who was named South Africa's champion sprinter. Despite suffering a shock defeat in his final outing, the now Drakenstein Stud-based What A Winter received support to garner his third Equus Award overall. A son of Western Winter, What A Winter had won two of the country's top sprints, the Cape Flying Championship and Computform Sprint, both grade I.
Former Arlington Million (gr. IT) hero Silvano (Lomitas) enjoyed a record-breaking season, with his progeny earning over R20,000,000 (about $2,003,950) during the season, smashing the South African record in the process. Not only was Silvano (represented by five South African grade I winners during the season) named the country's champion stallion, but his dual grade I-winning son, Heavy Metal, received the accolade as SA's champion middle distance horse.
One of the stars of the evening was the superbly bred young sire Judpot (an A.P. Indy half brother to Kingmambo). Not only was Judpot recognized for an outstanding first season with the Outstanding Stallion Achievement award, but a daughter from his first crop, grade I winner Along Came Polly, was named South Africa's champion 2-year-old filly.
Mike de Kock, currently preparing The Apache for a tilt at the Arlington Million (gr. IT), received the award for the country's top trainer. De Kock was winning the title for an eighth time, and his son Matthew picked up the statue on behalf of his father.
Here is a full list of the award winners:
Champion 2-Year-Old Colt: Kochka (Black Minnaloushe)
Champion 2-Year-Old Filly: Along Came Polly
Champion 3-Year-Old Colt: Vercingetorix (Silvano)
Champion 3-Year-Old Filly: Cherry On The Top (Tiger Ridge)
Champion Miler: Variety Club
Champion Middle Distance Horse: Heavy Metal
Champion Older Male: Variety Club
Champion Older Female: Beach Beauty (Dynasty)
Champion Sprinter: What A Winter
Champion Stayer: Jeppe's Reef (Jallad)
Champion Stallion: Silvano
Broodmare of the Year: Akinfeet (Fort Wood)
Special Outstanding Achievement Awards: Chris Van Niekerk, Justin Snaith
Print Journalist of the Year: David Thistleton
TV Journalist of the Year: Jimmy Lithgow
Jockey of the Year: Piere Strydom
Apprentice: Nooresh Juglall
Trainer: Mike De Kock
Owners: Markus and Ingrid Jooste
Horse of the Year: Variety Club