FIRST MAJOR OF YEAR IN JOBURG!
History: The Gauteng Guineas was first run as the M.E.C Guineas (SA Horseracing) Guineas in 1993. The stature of the race has soared since 1999 when it was included in Phumelela's SA Triple Crown and won by Fort Defiance, trained by Mike de Kock and ridden by Piere Strydom.
Initially, the first leg of the Triple Crown was either of two races, the Cape Guineas at Kenilworth or the Gauteng Guineas then run at Newmarket. Fort Defiance's stablemate Horse Chestnut won the Cape first leg and went on to clinch the other two legs of the Triple Crown.
The race was switched to the Turffontein standside track in 2002 and since then it has been won by a number of top-class horses, including Grand Emporium, Hunting Tower and Imbongi, who all went on to race on the international stage.
Gauteng Guineas Day is always the first major raceday of the New Year in Johannesburg and the main event is backed by a strong supporting cast of feature events. The Gauteng Guineas is currently sponsored by Betting World.
There are several other feature races on the day.
The Gauteng Fillies Guineas - First run at Gosforth Park as the Stuttafords Cup in 1981, this race has become one of the most important tests for three-year-old fillies on the national racing calendar. In 1985 the race was titled the Gosforth Park Cup and became the Gosforth Park Fillies Guineas the following year.
Past winners include Petrava (1984), Enchanted Garden (1985) and Star Award (1994).
It was included as the first leg of the then SA Triple Tiara (the fillies' equivalent to the Triple Crown) in 2000, when it was run at Newmarket and won by Dog Rose, ridden by Johnny Geroudis.
Switched to Turffontein in 2002, two past winners have gone on to win the Triple Tiara - Igugu in 2011 and Cherry On The Top in 2013.
Dane Julia, who won in 2007 for the late Buddy Maroun and Piere Strydom, went on to win at G1 level in Australia and Irridescence, runner-up to Royal Aproval in 2005, went on to win the Balanchine at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai and the QE II Cup at Sha Tin in Hong Kong for trainer Mike de Kock.
Wilgerbosdrift came on board as the sponsor of the Triple Tiara and the three Johannesburg Triple Tiara races in 2013.
The Hawaii Stakes - First run in 1971 when it was titled the Keith Hepburn Champion Stakes in honour of the Turffontein chairman who died that year, the race now commemorates Hawaii, who achieved more fame on the racecourse and at stud overseas than any SA-bred horse before or since.
Perfectly conformed, Hawaii (by Utrillo II out of Ethane) raced from two to four years old in South Africa from 1966 to 1968 and won 15 of 18 races, including the Benoni and SA Guineas. Trained by George Azzie in SA and owned by Charles Engelhard, he was exported as a young four-year-old to the USA where he spent 60 days in quarantine without being allowed to leave his stable.
Amazingly he recovered from that debilitating two months in a stable and went on to win six of 10 starts for trainer "Mac" Miller, including the Grade 1 Man 'O War Stakes. He was voted Champion Grass Horse in the USA in 1969.
At stud in Kentucky he became the first SA-bred to have sired a Northern Hemisphere Grade 1 winner when his son Henbit won the 1980 Epsom Derby.
Other top past winners of the Hawaii Stakes include National Emblem (1997) and Jet Master (1999 and 2000), who both went on to become a champion stallions in SA.
The Aquanaut Handicap - Previously the Len Harvey Memorial Handicap, the race was renamed to honour one of the most famous stayers SA has produced. Aquanaut (by Foveros out of Aquilegia) raced from two to seven years old (1985 to 1990).
Trained by Mark Watters at the Cape, he was victorious in 11 of his 38 races, including the 1987 Gold Cup at Greyville. He became well known to Gauteng racing fans because from a young four-year-old he was sent to Johannesburg every spring in order to acclimatise and be prepared for the Gold Bowl. He ran in that race three times, winning in 1987 and 1988 and finishing fourth in 1989 when he got too far back.
He was being prepared for a fourth tilt at the Gold Bowl in 1990 when he broke a leg in his stable at Turffontein. He was put down and was buried in the infield at Turffontein.
Event details: One of South Africa’s major race meetings with five feature races on the day including the R1-million Betting World Gauteng Guineas, Leg 1 of the SA Triple Crown for three-year-olds.
R1-million Betting World Gauteng Guineas (3-year-olds; Grade 2) 1600m – alt Leg 1 SA Triple Crown
R500,000 Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies’ Guineas (3-year-old fillies; Grade 2) 1600m – alt Leg 1 Wilgerbosdrift Triple Tiara
R400,000 Hawaii Stakes (Open; Grade 2) 1400m
R250,000 Acacia Handicap (Grade 3) 1600m
R150,000 Aquanaut Handicap (Open; Listed) 2450m