Hall of Fame

Gatecrasher

Gatecrasher was one of the great ones. He faced the starter 17 times, won 10, finishing unplaced just once. He never lost on a left-handed course and was unheaded at four. He was a tough horse, the symbol of competitiveness, but he was a tough horse in spirit with a physical flaw. Gatecrasher had long pasterns (the bone between hoof and fetlock joint), and every time he did hard work, they would swell up.

The first time trainer Herman Brown saw him he wasn’t impressed. In front of him stood the anti-athlete, for Gatecrasher was all legs, very clumsy and “like two planks nailed together”. He was summarily despatched to the spelling farm, until six months later he showed them what he was all about. Worked on the grass, he displayed the longest stride Herman Brown has ever seen.

He had two routine victories at two, and was then second to Archangel twice, both times losing ground by shifting out. His warm-up for the Natal Guineas was little more than exercise gallop; a serious omen for what was to come. Gatecrasher ran the fastest-ever mile at Greyville, clocking 2/5th seconds slower than the fastest turf mile in America, despite being eased up over the final 100 metres. What manner of horse was this?

The Cape Guineas delivered a similar answer. Gatecrasher beat the combined might of Archangel, Syd Laird and Bertie Hayden. And he beat the clock. Course record number two for Gatecrasher.

He then ran second in a warm-up sprint, shifted out in the SA Guineas, and was disqualified in the July Handicap for the same reason.

Gatecrasher never lost again. He beat Col Pickering in a brilliant comeback, and then went to Cape Town to beat Sledgehammer in the Met.

Back in Durban later in the season, he beat the country’s best sprinters in a warm-up sprint.

Gatecrasher’s last start on a left-handed course was also the last of his career. Alas, the big chestnut, for by now he was quite a handsome horse, broke down. In spite of this, the gallant Gatecrasher never relaxed from the task at hand, and for the second time he defeated Sledgehammer.