South African Heavy Hitters Arrive In New York With Breeders' Cup Goal

Beach Bomb | Chase Liebenberg Photography & Design/Breeders' Cup

A plane carrying 11 South African Thoroughbreds, among them current Equus Horse of the Year Princess Calla (SAf) (Flower Alley) and Breeders' Cup qualifier Beach Bomb (SAf) (Lancaster Bomber), touched down at New York's JFK Airport on Thursday, the Sporting Post reported. November's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships at Del Mar are on the radar for several of the new arrivals, who will now spend two months in quarantine.

The first direct export flight from South Africa since 2003, the plan was chartered after champion owner/breederGaynor Rupert of Drakenstein Stud, her racing manager Kevin Sommerville, Robin Bruss of Northfields Bloodstock, Team Valor International's Barry Irwin, CTB Forwarding Pty., Ltd's Gerard Connolly and Mersant International New York joined forces to facilitate the trip. Originating in Johannesburg, the plane made a refueling stop in Barbados prior to touching down in the Empire State.

Rupert's homebred MG1SW Beach Bomb, already successful in the G1 Cartier Paddock S., a “Win And You're In” for the GI Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf, anchors the Drakenstein quintet. Grade 3 winner Golden Hostess (SAf) (Gold Standard {SAf), also MG1SP, as well as GSW & G1SP Distant Winter (SAf) (What A Winter {SAf}), Hunting Trip (SAf) (Trippi) and GSP Coldhardstare (SAf) (What A Winter {SAf}) complete the fivesome.

Irwin, who experienced great success with South African exports previously and had chartered the final flight in 2003 with Bruss, sent a trio–Equus Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Bless My Stars (SAf) (Gimmethegreenlight {Aus}) who is also bound for the Filly & Mare Turf; GSW & G1SP Feather Boa (SAf) (Flower Alley); and former smart juvenile Eqyptian Mau (SAf) (Fire Away), a Grade 3 winner and Grade 1-placed at two.

Irwin told Sporting Post, “It has been meaningful to get this over the line since it is 20 years+ since the last time Robin and I did it. I hope that the results are just as successful.  It would have been nice if the enterprise received a bit more support from key players. But as the old saying goes, TISAB !This is South Africa, baby!”

Other owners were encouraged by the group to participate, with trainer Sean Tarry and owner Mario Ferreira sending the aforementioned five-time Grade 1 winner Princess Calla. She has a pair of Breeders' Cup options–either the GI Filly & Mare Sprint or the GI Mile versus males.

Tarry said on his website, “There is a lot of planning still to do. It wasn't a last minute decision, but I don't think there is a firm plan. She certainly has the option to race still. She took her run on Saturday very well [third in the G1 Wilgerbosdrift H F Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut S.] and she's sound. In terms of breeding I am sure the world will be her oyster.”

Hollywood Syndicate's 2023 Equus Champion Sprinter and MG1SW Isivunguvungu (SAf) (What A Winter {SAf}) was also on board. The 5-year-old gelding will target the GI Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint. Completing the 11 visitors is Ridgemont Stud's MG1SW Make It Snappy (SAf) (Dynasty {SAf}), heroine of the G1 Cape Fillies Guineas and G1 Paddock S.

Breeders Cup's Josh Christian told the publication, “We are thrilled that the South African horses have arrived in New York on their way to the Breeders Cup World Championships! None of this would be possible without the help and support of Gaynor Rupert, Barry Irwin, Kevin Sommerville, Robin Bruss and Gerard Connolly.  We are looking forward to seeing them at Del Mar in November and having the best from South Africa, Asia, Europe and the America's will make the Breeders Cup a true world championship.”

Northfields Bloodstock's Robin Bruss, “The USA export route allows South African horses to compete almost up to flight date as Horse of the Year Princess Calla did on Saturday and was in New York four days later. The difference lies between the EU stance of pre-travel quarantine and USA's post arrival quarantine. South Africa is the 8th largest racing country in the world and established great success in the first decade of the 2000s winning Gr.1 races on four continents. Exports have been severely constrained for the past 10 years whilst waiting for difficulties in the pre-travel quarantine system to be resolved.  We are the sleeper in world racing, and we want to be back on the stage, win lose or draw. I pay tribute to Gaynor Rupert and Barry Irwin for their willingness to go the extra mile and make things happen and give thanks to the supporters of this venture including Breeders Cup, Ltd.”

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