Click above to watch What A Winter winning the Mercury Sprint (Gr1)
(Photo : Gold Circle - Footage : Racing International)
Mercury Sprint (Grade 1)
Clairwood, Turf, 1200m
14 July 2012
I sometimes wonder whether racehorses don’t exist to remind us of our fallibility. The enigmatic What A Winter is undoubtedly one of the most talented racehorses in the land; for all his marvellous attributes, on his day, I’d love to see him take on Black Caviar at Royal Ascot or at Royal Randwick, you name it. When he’s on song, he literally purrs, and on Saturday he was back to his best in the Mercury Sprint (Gr.1), where he gave the dual Group One ace, Delago Deluxe, a galloping lesson.
Granted, unlike Black Caviar, our man is a bit quirky. When he’s at home he verges on the unbeatable, but he’s not big on away games. That much he’s told us on two visits to Scottsville, and unlike the Randlords, he’s not mad about Jo’burg either. You can send Black Caviar anywhere, and she’ll produce the “after-burners”, but this fellow likes it his way. If you didn’t know it, you might have said that Clairwood Park was away from home too, but then you’d be forgetting that this is his winter home, the place from whence Mike Bass sent forth Pocket Power to his Vodacom Durban July victory among many others, so What A Winter is almost as at “home” at Clairwood as he is in Cape Town.
This is no ordinary horse though; he’s a man-mountain as a specimen, a V8 in his backside, great depth of girth, and a powerful sloping shoulder. To cap it, he has a grand head, broad and masculine with a big, genuine eye. And when you see him turn it on, you quickly forgive the odd flop; here is the perfect running machine, an easy, elastic action which rakes the ground barely an inch above the surface.
I know Mike Bass thinks he can get a mile, and perhaps he does, but what’s the point? At his best trip and at his best, he’s virtually unassailable. Whether he’ll get the opportunity to vindicate our views of his class with a trip to Ascot remains to be seen. Knowing Marsh Shirtliff though, and the competitor he is, I think this fellow’s got wings.