The race to be held on May 5 will see 13 runners on the course compared to last year when there were 16 horses on the field with Grisham from the Geoff Woodruff stable in South African taking the winner’s prize.
Initially 14 horses had been nominated for this year’s race but Kirk Swanson’s Al Kahtan has been scratched.
Unfortunately, last year’s winner, Grisham is not part of the contestants this year but that has not taken the gloss off the contest as most of Zimbabwe’s top horses including Captain’s Tiger are among those vying for the title while Winter’s Night will also be on parade.
The two horses are not the favourites as that mantle belongs to House of Wax after being unveiled on the opening odds of 5 to 2 on Wednesday.
Ironically, House of Wax hails from the same stable as Grisham and is trained by Woodruff in South Africa. Woodruff, though, fields only one horse in the 2012 race which is dominated by horses from Lisa Harris and Kirk Swanson who have five and four horses each.
Swanson won four consecutive Castle Tankard events starting from 2005 to 2008.
Swanson sends out Briefcase Bill, Captain’s Tiger, Eight Street, and Pressure, while Harris fields Alula Borealis, Boost My Ego, Earl of Surrey, Gracie Jones, and Winter’s Night.
Alyson Wright has two, Whole Kaboodle and Code Rock with Gokhan Terzi featuring Got Personality.
The Castle Tankard with a $50 000 sponsorship is a grade one race and compares favourably with other events in South Africa hence the foreign participation. Only one horse Taranaki in 1978 and 1979 has managed to defend the Castle Tankard title.
The Castle Tankard which was introduced in 1960 is celebrating its 50th competition this year.