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– Written by Mark van Deventer

The SplashOut Cape Derby for three-year-old thoroughbreds has been around in various iterations for nearly a century. The race has a proud history dating back to 1925 when DESERT BORN, a filly, won the Western Province Derby over 2400m.

There was a spell when it was run at Milnerton as the Cape of Good Hope Derby before moving back permanently to Hollywoodbets Kenilworth in 1949. Apart from a few missing years due to Equine Flu, it’s been a perennial fixture on Cape Racing’s Grade 1 Summer roster. And in the mid-70s, the distance was reduced from 12 furlongs (2,414m) to ten (2,000m).

The SplashOut Cape Derby for three-year-olds is a major pointer to other prestigious races on the SA calendar, including the World Sports Betting Cape Town MET and Hollywoodbets Durban July. Close to twenty Cape Derby winners have gone on to win either or both iconic contests. Many a Derby winner has subsequently attained Equus Horse of the Year status, and some go even beyond that by becoming big success stories at Stud.

It’s a hard race to win; many champions have been toppled, with luminaries such as LONDON NEWS, PRINCE FLORIMOND, ILLUSTRADOR, OVER THE AIR and YATAGHAN unexpectedly biting the dust.

(Colorado King is floundering in third place in the 1963 Cape Derby as Majorca has the field cold at the 400m pole.
He would produce the acceleration that only good horses are capable of to pass her close to the line.)

Old time racegoers will recall the exploits of great COLORADO KING, who triumphed in the Cape Derby in 1963 when beating the filly MAJORCA, before being exported to race with distinction in America.

POLITICIAN, JAMAICAN MUSIC, MAZARIN and SWORD DANCER are other “blasts from the past” that feature on the Cape Derby roll of honour. More recently, DYNASTY and JAY PEG are legends of the turf who showed their early worth by winning this important middle distance test for emerging youngsters.


Eleven entries have been received for this year’s showdown, slated for next Saturday, 24 February 2024.

(Image of HLUHLUWE by Chase Liebenberg) (Image of GREEN WITH ENVY by Chase Liebenberg)

Six of them sport triple digit merit ratings: BEACH BOMB 117, HLULHUWE 111, GREEN WITH ENVY 110, RAPIDASH 103, with COASTAL COMMANDER and HARAJUKU pegged on 101.

Allocated draws, pace, track conditions on the day and race readiness all play a key role in the outcome. A sneak peek suggests that there is not much separating GREEN WITH ENVY on Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas, Cape Punters Cup, and Schweppes Politician Stakes form from HLUHLUWE, whose L’Ormarins King’s Plate Gr1 effort against the best older milers in the country was better than it may appear at first glance.

(Image of BEACH BOMB by Chase Liebenberg)

Dual Gr1 heroine BEACH BOMB is going to be a tough adversary if she puts her Majorca Stakes duff try behind her and again unleashes her zippy turn of foot. And Justin Snaith’s companions, HARAJUKU, (who ran well despite a torrid trip last time) and RAPIDASH, with just a few lengths’ improvement over this longer route, could be propelled right into the fray too.