Hall of Fame
She was one of the last runners to load for the Dubai Duty Free (Gr 1) in 2003. But a devastating turn of foot left her opponents reeling as Ipi Tombe smashed them in a perfromance that helped cemented her status as Dubai’s Horse of the Year.
Hers was a career which started from humble beginnings at Borrowdale Park in Zimbabwe, reached a zenith with a dramatic victory in the Vodacom Durban July and culminated in international success.
But it was no fluke, in fact when Kevin Shea was pulling her up after blitzing them in the Dubai Duty Free commentator Terry Spargo proclaimed that Ipi Tombe had “done what was expected of her”.
By Manshood out of Carnet De Danse, Ipi Tombe stepped onto a racetrack for the first time in October 2001 and the effort in her first four starts, for three wins and a second, showed enough promise to motivate connections to send her to South Africa.
A second in the Triple Tiara (Gr 1) in March 2002 were followed by a dominant performance in the SA Fillies Classic (Gr 2) before Durban beckoned for the season. The Fillies Classic was the start of an unbeaten partnership with jockey Kevin Shea.
The SA Fillies Guineas was a first Goup One success and was followed up by victory in the Woolavington before the big one, the July by a proverbial nose. The images that followed showing the interaction between jockey and horse demonstrated just how well the dynamic duo got on.
Photo cred: Gold Circle
That performance was the last time South Africans got to see one of the queen’s of the turf on home soil.
It didn’t take Ipi Tombe long to find her feet in Dubai either with a victory in the Al Fahidi Fort, over 1600m, in her first outing of the carnival in February 2003. A month later and another dominant performance followed, this time in the Jebel Hatta (Gr 3) where she destroyed them by just under four lengths.
Fast forward to the end of March and the horse from Zimbabwe demanded attention with another world-beating performance to get home three lengths ahead of her nearest rival, Paolini, to claim a third career Group One victory.
Ipi Tombe was to have one more run, this time in the United State at Churchill Downs and the now five-year-old added the Locust Grove Handicap (Gr 3) to her lengthy list of achievements.
From there, a career at stud beckoned and Ipi Tombe has been sent to the likes of Medaglio d’Oro and Giant’s Causeway.