Having closed the previous season with another Equus Awards trophy on our shelf, we were hopeful of more of the same from the now-five-year-old Champion Sprinter, Rio Querari. Sadly, he wasn’t at his best in the Cape Summer Season, and he was battling a mystery ailment for the rest of the racing season. His burst of acceleration from off the pace is astonishing – let’s hope we get to see more of that!

On a less vaulted level, but impressive in its own right, the eight-year-old Nordic Rebel won his 10th race. He’s been a credit to his trainer Erico Verdonese, seldom finishing more than a couple of lengths behind the winner in his 61 starts, for stakes of over R900k. Impressive for a horse that cost just R20k on the Klawervlei Farm Sale!

As you can guess from his name, Nordic Rebel is out of a daughter of Nordic Vine (also the grandam of Rio Querari). Five of Nordic Vine’s daughters have now bred multiple winners. This year we’ll be covering four of her daughters and another four of her granddaughters. Based on the foals we’ve bred from these mares over the past few years, we have confidence that the tally of stakes-winners from the Nordic family will grow.

If Rio’s season was a disappointment, we had reason to be very hopeful about our two-year-olds. After two impressive wins, Grinkov went into the Grade II Golden Horseshoe as joint favourite, but suffered the effects of a deep draw. He was drawn even wider in the Premiers Champion Stakes (Gr I), and was left with way too much to do in the straight. This son of Twice Over should be at his best over 2000m and further as he matures.

Grinkov is out of a half-sister to Mother Russia, and it is also the family of another promising two-year-old, in Return to Russia (out of a half-sister to Grinkov). He bolted up first time out, and then went wrong when being prepped for the Golden Horseshoe. We hope that he makes a full recovery.

We also had two-year-old winners from the Nordic family, the most notable of which may be the Erupt gelding, Beerenberg.

So, while the season didn’t deliver any graded stakes-winners, there were signs of promise in the crop of juveniles … and it won’t be long before we have another group of juveniles making their debuts. Is there horseman anywhere on earth who isn’t driven by hope?