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Superstition abounds in racing. Fans have “lucky” hats they wear on the racecourse. Many refuse to wear anything green. Even the great Terrance Millard, trainer of six Durban July winners, had a pair of lucky socks.
I met a trainer who wore the same pair of red underpants whenever his horses competed. It paid off as he won the Summer Cup, though by then those rods were in tatters.
A partner owner of mine believed his mere presence was a jinx on winning and, at race time, would walk resolutely off the course into the nearby café for a few puffs on a fag as our horse galloped. The nag won just twice from dozens of starts but, for my mate, that was evidence enough of the efficacy of his strategy.
Such mysterious forces don’t usually bother me. But I am a little concerned that lately when I’ve written about horses or connections ahead of a race, they’ve failed to meet expectations.
The highlight of today’s Champions Day meeting at Turffontein is the bid by Cherry On The Top to claim the Triple Tiara by winning the Wilgerbosdrift Stud SA Oaks - completing three victories in the daunting series.
Ormond Ferraris, trainer of Cherry On The Top, recently chased a TV camera crew from his yard, apparently because he didn’t want to be jinxed by media hype.
So, given my record and Ferraris’ sensitivities, I’m loath to write about the big moment.
I won’t dwell on how bookmakers are offering prohibitive odds of 1/6 on Mary Slack, Wilgerbosdrift’s owner and sponsor of the Oaks and Triple Tiara, handing the R1million series bonus cheque to her very own mum - Cherry On The Top’s owner Bridget Oppenheimer.
I won’t witter about keeping it in the family. Anyway, I’m sure Mary won’t appreciate jokes about her mother not needing the extra few bob. After all, Mary has said the sponsorship is to encourage the breeding of quality fillies in an industry she cares fervently about - and she clearly never had mater in mind when she got out her purse.
I’ll also not drone on about Mrs O’s record of a dozen or so wins in the Oaks, dating back 50 years.
Instead, I’ll focus on the host of other big races. In the President’s Champions Challenge, where anything could win, I’m going for Master Plan (16/1) and Shogunnar (6/1). Sorry for that.
Red Ray (5/10), in the SA Nursery, is rumoured to be dynamite and watching a potential superstar in action might be worth the visit to Turfies on its own.
In the SA Derby, bookies reckon Tellina (16/10) is a shoo-in, though I caution that any of the maturing three-year-olds might relish the gruelling 2450m they’re trying for the first time. Wylie Hall at 8/1?
Then there’s the Computaform Sprint. But, go on, you place your own curses.
Extract from The Times
The best South African sire of all time
is having a holiday.
His best son at stud is Ravishing,
Classic winner from 1000m (in 57.3 secs)
and hero of the SA Derby (Gr1)
from two Group One performers.
Look for his first progeny at
*Six cheque payment scheme for qualifying buyers.
Winning Leap - Gold Bowl (Grade 2)
(Photo : JC Photographics / Summerhill Stud)
So the Triple Crown remained elusive.
And we may not have won any of the Classics.
But we gave it a damn good crack!
|1st||WINNING LEAP||R500,000 Gold Bowl (Gr2)||Dominic Zaki|
|2nd||PIERRE JOURDAN||R1,500,000 SA Derby (Gr1)||Gary Alexander|
|2nd||SALUTATION||R750,000 SA Oaks (Gr2)||Stuart Pettigrew|
|2nd||HAVASHA||R500,000 KRA Guineas (Gr2)||Mike de Kock|
|3rd||HIS AFFIDAVIT||R500,000 The Nursery (Gr2)||Charles Laird|
For more information please visit :
033 263 1081
082 782 7297
Left : Noble Heir - Computaform Sprint (Grade 1)
Centre : Waywest Goddess - The Fillies Nursery (Grade 2)
|Right : Winning Leap - Gold Bowl (Grade 2)
(Photos : JC Photographics)
On a weekend in which the hot favourites for the Kentucky Derby and the English 2000 Guineas were up-ended, Pierre Jourdan’s attempt at the Triple Crown as the first since Horse Chestnut, was the best performance from those who were backed to take their country’s major classics.
One of the hottest-priced fancies for the first of the English Classics, St Nicholas Abbey was a spent force entering the dip at Newmarket, signalling a warning to the connections of his American counterpart, Lookin At Lucky that favouritism was no guarantee for success in any Triple Crown event. And that’s the way it turned out, neither of them making the frame.
In Pierre Jourdan’s case, the reason was simple. He failed to see out the trip, made all the longer by the sticky going, and while he challenged gallantly all the way to the line, he was no match for Mike de Kock’s Irish Flame, who looks to have the KZN version of the Derby (at least,) and maybe the Daily News 2000, at his mercy. We use the word “maybe” advisedly, as the outcome of the KRA Guineas (Gr2) run at Greyville Sunday, followed a stirring performance from Noordhoek Flyer, and if he gets the 2000m of the Daily News journey, (which he didn’t do in the Cape Derby (Gr1) in January), we could be in for one helluva race.
There were three Classics on the weekend in South Africa, the third being the SA Oaks, and quite amazingly, in what might be considered an unlucky weekend for Summerhill, we had the runners-up in each of them. Besides Pierre Jourdan’s 2nd in the SA Derby, Havasha was an encouraging pursuer of Noordhoek Flyer in the Durban version of the Guineas (he was gelded after the SA Classic, and obviously didn’t have the best of preparations), while Salutation looked a winner with a hundred to go in the SA Oaks. Coming from last in the mud was one step too far for her, the effort in making up the ground and hitting the front at the 200, sapping her of the energy to sustain her run.
Consolation came in several forms. Way West’s first crop daughter, Waywest Goddess, gave the juvenile fillies a galloping lesson in The Fillies Nursery (Gr2), as she strode away regally by two lengths, and while there will be those that will argue that the underfoot conditions accounted for more than one upset result, as things stand right now, she’s queen of her realm. In another telling blow for the Summerhill stallions, Noble Heir gave Kahal his second Gr1 heroine in just over a month, putting paid to the aspirations of three other Gr1 winners, Warm White Night, Mythical Flight and Private Jet, in the R1million Computaform Sprint (Gr1).
While we may have been dejected at the failure of Pierre Jourdan’s Triple Crown bid, and felt a little hard done by with three seconds in the three Classics, there was consolation in the last of the Group races on Saturday, when Winning Leap stayed on like a trojan in the second richest marathon on the South African racing calendar, the R500,000 Gold Bowl (Gr2). Winning Leap is another powerful stayer by the unlikely stamina source, Labeeb, who besides being a dual Gr1 winner to a maximum of nine furlongs in the United States, was also highly effective as a sprinter. His influence however, has been principally over the longer distances, which bodes well for the prospects of the genuine middle distance racehorses occupying the Summerhill barn as we write, Admire Main, Mullins Bay, AP Arrow and Solskjaer. Recent Champion sires Fort Wood and Al Mufti, remind us of this imperative.
On the technical side, Winning Leap is yet another sterling product of a Northern Guest mare, his mother hailing from the fabulous Aga Khan family of champion sires Nasrullah, Royal Charger and Kalamoun.