Ipi Tombe in South Africa

Ipi Tombe raced in SAF under the ownership of the 22-man Sunmark Stable syndicate and under the tutelage of one of South Africa's best-known trainers, Mike De Kock, trainer of South African Triple Crown winner Horse Chestnut. Her first start there, while admittedly not completely fit, was the G2 Triple Tiara (1600m) on March 9, 2002, in which she was beaten only half a length by the filly Kournikouva. That was her second and last defeat. Afterwards, she strung together impressive and easy wins in the G2 South African Fillies Classic (Oaks) (1800m), the G1 South African Fillies Guineas (1600m), and the G2 Woolavington Stakes (2000m).

Ipi's greatest challenge in South Africa came in the G1 Vodacom Durban July Handicap (2200m), Africa's equivalent of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Ipi seemed doomed to fail from the start when she was given the outside post in a field of 18. Not surprisingly, she was trapped behind a wall of horses through much of the race, and as the field turned for home, Ipi had only three horses beaten and no room to run. But jockey Kevin Shea, spotting a path for her in the closing stages of the race, set her down for her amazing stretch drive, and at the wire, Ipi's head was in front. By winning the Durban July, Ipi became the first three year-old filly in 50 years to have done so, and the first Zimbabwe-bred horse to capture the race since Spey Bridge in 1956.

According to http://www.sportingpost.co.za, "connections of Ipi Tombe, from her four Zimbabwean owners to De Kock and Shea, certainly enjoyed the moment. The winning jockey planted more kisses on her face than a lovestruck teenager, and De Kock briefly even heaved himself into the saddle. Ipi Tombe accepted it all as if it were perfectly normal. She obviously has a great temperament to go with everything else."

After such a spectacular season, Ipi was deservingly named SAF Champion 3 year-old filly and very nearly SAF Horse of the Year.

Ipi was acquired in August of 2002 by Team Valor, a Versailles, KY, based racing stable who further syndicated her. The original South African syndicate kept a quarter share in her, Team Valor owned a quarter share, and Winstar Farm, also in Versailles, KY, owned the remaining half.

After resting up from her Durban July win, Ipi was sent to Dubai for the winter.

Ipi Tombe winning the SAF Fillies Guineas

Ipi galloping out after a win

Ipi Tombe winning the Vodacom Durban July, the SAF equivalent of the

Jockey Kevin Shea kissing Ipi after their win in the Durban July

On to Dubai