Famous Fillies | Sparkling Water

The eighth in our series at Kuda where we honour the fairer sex earning black type. Here we look at Sparkling Water and her mother Espumanti, after the running of the Hollywoodbets Durban July. Plus, we honour the grand lady of South African racing

Raise a glass of your finest to the ladies! For this year’s running of the R5-million Hollywoodbets Durban July was truly a triumph for South African racing – and at the forefront of the celebrations was the fairer sex.
Sparkling Water was the only filly in the 18-horse field and she put the boys firmly in their place, skating home by three lengths – an almost unheard of three-length winning margin in the country’s premier Grade 1 event.
Her mother, Espumanti, actually ran in the big event herself, in 2014, when Legislate won, and Espumanti had booked her own spot in that year’s elite field by winning the Greyville 1900 two months earlier.
But, even more than Sparkling Water’s scintillating win, and the glowing legacy it bestows on her mother Espumanti, the biggest congratulations – and thank yous – have to extend to Sparkling Water’s owner Mrs Mary Slack. The grand lady of South African racing was toasting, remarkably, her first July winner.

Her parents, Mr Harry and Mrs Bridget Oppenheimer, won the famous race six times and Wilgersbosdrift & Mauritzfontein, who bred her, have had a number of July champions, the previous one being Marinarescco in 2016. But, the planets finally aligned to ensure that Mrs Slack could also have her moment as an owner. And no one deserves it more.

Mrs Slack was hugely instrumental in throwing South African racing a lifeline two years ago when there was a real possibility of the sport drowning financially and it is no exaggeration to say that without her and her daughters’ intervention there might not have been a 2022 Hollywoodbets Durban July.

Back to Sparkling Water, who herself is destined to have a long and successful career at stud when she retires to Wilgersbosdrift & Mauritzfontein.
Her mother was a six-time winner – and was runner-up in the Gr1 Garden Province Stakes – before being retired after her run in that 2014 July.
In 2015 Espumanti was visited by the champion sire Dynasty, but there was no return. A year later she was visited by Soft Falling Rain and she produced a filly, named Gin Fizz, on 29 September 2016. Gin Fizz went on to win three times, including on her debut, like her mother Espumanti did.

Then, in the perfect “trifecta”, Sparkling Water, the result of Silvano’s visit to Espumanti on 11 November 2017, also won on her debut in November 2020.
Espumanti’s next foal was a colt, a full brother to Gin Fizz and called Buck’s Fizz. He sold for R180 000 to Fortune Racing at the 2020 BSA National Yearling Sale and finished third on his debut, before breaking his maiden at the third attempt.

In September 2019 Silvano again visited Espumanti and they produced a filly, as yet unraced, called Champagne Cocktail. This is a full sister to the latest July winner.
Finally, boom sire Vercingetorix covered Espumanti in October 2020, the result which is still pending registration.

And so, the names of Espumanti’s foals have been consistently named – starting with Gin Fizz, then progressing to Sparkling Water, then Buck’s Fizz, then Champagne Cocktail. After Sparkling Water’s fabulous win, there’s still plenty of corks that need opening in celebration.

Photography courtesy of Chase Liebenberg.

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