emerald cup boosted

IMPRESSIVE: Narc won going away in last year's Emerald Cup. The Bradley Maroun's runner, was not shy to bring the bacon home with Piere
IMPRESSIVE: Narc won going away in last year's Emerald Cup. The Bradley Maroun's runner, was not shy to bring the bacon home with Piere "Striker" Strydom in the irons.

Already the richest race on sand in the southern hemisphere the Emerald Cup, has been given a further R40000 boost and will this year carry prize money of R600000.

Already the richest race on sand in the southern hemisphere the Emerald Cup, has been given a further R40000 boost and will this year carry prize money of R600000.

The Grade 2 race will be run over 1450m on the Vaal sand track on September 27 and forms part of the Emerald Spring Festival.

This year prize money will be paid to the first eight finishers. The winner will pocket R360 000 all the way down to R3 000 for eighth place.

The Emerald Spring Festival begins two days earlier on September 25 when the 1000m Hampton Handicap, worth R135 000, will be run.

The race is named after Little Hampton, South Africa's first star of the sand, who scored nine of his 12 victories on the surface.

The Emerald Cup is one of four feature races to take place on September 27. There is also the Vaal River Handicap over 1800m, the Sophomore 1000 over 1000m for all three-year-olds and the Sophomore 1000 for three-year-old fillies.

Though the race is only in its fourth year the Emerald Cup has been keenly contested and the winner has come from the top echelons of South African racing.

In 2005 the race was not graded and only carried a stake of R200000. Fittingly, it was the Mike de Kock-trained and Bridget Oppenheimer-owned Hilti who stormed away to beat National Spirit by 1,25 lengths.

But just one year later the positions were reversed. National Spirit, trained by Dominic Zaki, laid claim to being the best 1400-1600m runner in the country by crushing De Kock's Men Of Rheims by three lengths.

Third place went to Silverpoint, who had run second in the Vodacom Durban July.

Last year the race went to Bradley Maroun's runner, Narc, who could arguably rival even Little Hampton as the best horse ever to race on sand in this country.

Having achieved everything he could in South Africa, Narc was subsequently sent to Dubai to race against some of the finest horses in the world.

The common thread between these two winners is jockey Pierre Strydom, who rode both National Spirit and Narc to victory.

Many pundits will be looking again this year to see what Strydom has selected to ride.

X