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Gold Rush II: Prospectors are lining up to win R7,5-million!

Prospector ticket sales for the second WSB Gold Rush spectacular are picking up momentum. So far 12 of 16 tickets have been sold for the R7,5-million Gold Rush II, scheduled for WSB Cape Met Day, Saturday 27 January 2024, at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth. The concept is based on Australia’s ever-popular Everest Sprint.

The Gold Rush II offers 16 ticketholders (prospectors) the opportunity to race for the massive stake and is open to graduates of the 2022 Cape Premier Yearling Sale. Gold Rush II is open to participation from anybody who bought a horse at the sale, not just to the 16 Ticket holders. Those with tickets do, however, hold the negotiating power on selling their interests if their own 2022 Premier Sale buys are not in contention when the field is finalised next January. The winner’s cheque is a whopping R5-million. As it stands, the four remaining tickets for the 2024 race renewal are available on a first come, first served basis. They are like gold!

Last year’s winner, Royal Aussie (Royal Mo), raced on a ticket initially secured by Basie Viljoen and negotiated to include the colt’s owners Suzette Viljoen, Dr Jill Warner and Dane Squance. The owners of second-placed Dave The King (Global View) concluded a ticket deal with Klawervlei Stud, who didn’t have a suitable runner at race time. Both, as well as third-placed Itsrainingwilliam, and indeed seventh-placed See It Again have since established themselves as among the top horses in the country.

Suzette Viljoen spoke of her inaugural Gold Rush winner and said: “Royal Aussie was sired by Royal Mo, who was brought to South Africa by Heinrich Rix. Heinrich was a top showjumper on his day and competed against my brother, Edwin Ludick. Aside from that connection, it was wonderful to race with partners from locally and around the world and the race itself was hugely exciting. This was the first time we had a runner attached to a sweepstake prize and we thoroughly enjoyed the build-up and the event.”

The Viljoens, and most other Gold Rush II ticket holders, haven’t got all that much to report about their latest contenders, who have all been in training just for a few months and are at early stages of their preparation. But as we saw last year, plenty of news start coming from the respective stables towards year-end.

Mark Bass, representing Bass Racing, said: “We have a ticket but nothing in contention just yet. There are a few to step out still, so we’ll see how it goes. Captain Arrow (Captain Of All) won his first race last Sunday over 1000m. We have a well-bred filly Nordic Quest (Querari) and Winter Rainfall (What A Winter). We’ll see if they can stay, otherwise we’ll be sellers.”

Rikesh Sewgoolam, who had an unplaced runner in Time Fo Orchids in Gold Rush I, has stuck to his guns with another ticket in Gold Rush II. He said: “I don’t have a horse that qualifies. It’s still early days, I’ll be looking for a runner closer to race time.” David Abery has similar plans for his participation and Klawervlei’s John Koster will be eying developments over the next few months before he makes his move.

Trainer Paul Lafferty reports good progress from Laurence Wernars’ R220,000 sales buy Question Of Faith, a colt by Erupt who finished second on his 1000m debut in a Juvenile Plate. “He’s a beautiful, scopy horse,” said Lafferty.

Ian Levitan’s IL Racing (Levitan, Dominic and John Paul Peter, and Antony Lang) secured their berth after the Premier Sale following excellent runs by their purchase, Leaving Las Vegas (Rafeef), the winner of the G3 Pretty Polly Stakes over 1100m. “Our jockey Dennis Schwarz believes she will come into her own over a mile. Trainer Tony Peter holds her in high regard so we may look at a race for her on Durban July day. The long-term objective is the Gold Rush,” said Levitan.

The most interesting news thus far comes from the race sponsors, World Sports Betting, whose spokesman Hilton Hasson revealed: “We went over budget for our pick of the 2022 sale, a Pomodoro filly out of Trophy Wife. Eric Sands did the bidding and he went pale after R450,000. He had a ding-dong battle with Sean Tarry and had to go up a notch for the auctioneer a few times. Eventually Sean backed off at R695,000 and Eric got the bid at R700,000. It was quite a riveting experience. The best is, we took a flyer and named her DoubleYouEssBee (for WSB), and expected the NHA to turn it down, but they passed it at registration and we’ve got the passport. She’s doing well, looks promising. Eric will step her out in a sprint soon.”

The Gold Rush II Prospectors are:
1. World Sports Betting
2. Ridgemont Highlands
3. Bass Racing
4. Klawervlei Stud
5. Rikesh Sewgoolam
6. Jayson Murugasa
7. Capstone 335 (Pty) Ltd
8. David Abery
9. Suzette & Basie Viljoen
10. I L Racing (Ian Levitan)
11. Mano Pandaram
12. Laurence Wernars
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