RULING champion trainer Charles Laird has entered eight horses in a bid to win the Peermont Emperors Palace Charity Mile for the third consecutive year.
The race, won by Laird-trained "milers" Our Giant in 2007 and Likeithot in 2008, will be run over 1600m at Turffontein on Saturday November 7.
The race is worth R600000 to the connections of the horses who finish in the money. But they will not be the only beneficiaries'
The Charity Mile, formerly the November Handicap, is one of the most special races on the South African calendar because it enables the horse-racing industry and its many fans to make a huge contribution to charity.
Each of the 16 participants in the race will run on behalf of a charity with the finishing positions determining how much each charity wins. Each horse will also have a corporate sponsor and be represented by a celebrity.
If the entries are any indication a high-class and competitive field is likely to line up in the Charity Mile. Nineteen of the 44 first entries are rated 100 and more and are in the top echelons of the country's equine athletes.
Laird's eight entries include Oracy, a highly regarded son of Zabeel and unbeaten in four career starts before being sidelined by injury.
His victories last season included a game neck defeat of Captain's Table in the Dingaans and another narrow success over dead-heaters Cherise Cherry and Tyrone Zackey's sole Charity Mile entry, Royal Rez. Racing fans at Turffontein will see today whether the injury has had any impact on Oracy's ability.
Likeithot could well be out to defend his crown, while Senor Versace, a good third to Rudra in last year's Summer Cup and perhaps in need of further than 1600m nowadays, and Eight Street, a talented five-time winner, are other highly rated nominees from the yard.
Trainer Mike de Kock has three top horses entered, including last season's SA Classic winner Forest Path and Meet At Malamala, a horse he was hoping would succeed as a three-year-old last season. Meet At Malamala won at Clairwood last month and is scheduled to meet Oracy for the first time at Turffontein today.
The highest-rated horse, Buy And Sell, could well have a couple of his stable companions beside him in the stalls on November 7 because Sean Tarry has entered five horses, including Aslan.
Dominic Zaki has entered his top-rated three-year-old, Exhilaration, while Duncan Howells plans to bring Tropical Empire to the Highveld from Durban.
Supplementary entries close on Friday, after which the weights will be announced.
Final acceptances fall due next Wednesday, October 28, when the final field will be announced and the charities and celebrities associated with each runner will be publicised.