Trainer Mike De Kock and jockey Anthony Delpech grabbed the last double at Scottsville on 22 January although their eyes will be on the bigger fish they have to fry in six days time.
Good form is always a great confidence booster and after a rather uneasy public few weeks for Met favourite Igugu, even a champion combination will take whatever good they can harvest.
The Encosta De Lago gelding Rashaad stepped out appropriately in the Igugu yellow and bue of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum in the final race of the day and showed the literal meaning of improvement. The obviously smart three year old had made heavy weather of winning his maiden over the Scottsville mile last time but built on that by showing his appreciation for the extra ground here .
Duty Free had made the pace a fair one in this MR70 Handicap but capitulated early in the home run as Delpech squeezed the trigger with 400m to run. It was race over in a matter of strides and while the opposition was very average, the Australian bred looks to be going the right way.
Their first winner Silent Partner was having his first run for the De Kock yard after having had his first nine career starts for trainer Deon Visser. The latter had done little wrong with the talented Silvano gelding, although he had struggled to win his second race after winning his second start at 66-1 way back in March 2011. After Zezinho Campeao had made the pace in this competitive MR87 Handicap over 1950m, Delpech sent Silent Partner on his way and he strode out magnificently to win with ease.
Cape trainer Glen Kotzen and his co-owner Paul Barrett deserve a medal for perservering with the consistent but luckless Desert Breeze and her ten places from her fourteen career starts attest to her consistency, if little else. The daughter of Right Approach finally cracked her first win this afternoon when coming away from her field to win the Maiden Plate over 1600m. Given a chance early from her poor draw by jockey Sean Cormack, she skipped clear down the inside in the home straight under a hands ride to win well from Pocket Venus. She appeared to enjoy the give in the ground and could be competitive for the next two or three months before things start hotting up on the East Coast- whereafter the Cape winter may prove a better option for her.
Jockey Chris Taylor alluded recently to having ‘changed his routine’ and we can only deduce that this now includes riding work at the Clairwood track. He picked up a rare engagement for the Puller yard in the second race and rode a smart race to bring the big boy Matteo home in impressive fashion.
Brompton’s Lad had made the pace in the Maiden Plate over 1200m but Taylor rode a confident race, keeping the leader within his sights before despatching the Caesour gelding at the 300m marker. Steve Sturlese owns and bred this three year old, who came out firing after a five month break and first time in blinkers. Described by assistant trainer Garth Puller as a 17 hands ‘slab of a horse’, the wily horseman suggested that he would have improvement to come.
Jockey Brandon Lerena continued his improved form of recently, when he conspired the undoing of the 3-10 favourite in the opener. Dennis Drier, on a high from the Super Sprint Saturday down South, sent Lord Leigh out looking too strong for his field after two excellent opening efforts. Stuart Randolph was given a torrid ride though by a horse he was green at his first view of Scottsville and ran all over the place. Lerena took full advantage of the favourite’s antics, grabbing first run on Pat Lunn’s Dodge City to win well.
To close our Scottsville Sunday, we thought it appropriate to publish these unbiased random thoughts and observations of the track from an irregular visitor:
I went off a couple of days earlier to funny little Scottsville. I spent the whole afternoon there, alone, with time to look and to see (not always the same thing). I reckon if it wasn’t for the casino it would have gone the way of Bloem or Germiston by now. It has all the droop and shabbiness of a failing business, and it made my heart sore to see it. I will be very hesitant to take any visitor there.
Case in point: the little matter of toilets. Nasty but necessary. The ones on the inside of the course have always been tatty, but this time I searched diligently and eventually discovered (no signboards provided, so God help those who are desperate) the ones in the main concourse, outside the entrance to the casino. If there were others I didn’t find them. They look ever so smart when one steps into the room, gold-coloured taps and all, but, alas, when you use the things you find out that the doors don’t lock and there’s no hook to hang your bag. There were toilet seats and paper, but it is only a matter of time before these also become liberated.
The other head-shaker was the fact that cheap food/drink was no longer available. In fact there was only one place to get food and they had a notice up saying that the menu was limited … probably due to a lack of custom. I did buy a Grapetiser, being desperate enough to pay R15 for it.
Ah, but the visit had its compensations. The horses were horses, albeit not in the top rank, and the few hundred people there were loudly enthusiastic and cheerful (or equally loudly not cheerful), even if they had only a limited menu and had to pee in the subway.
And I had a hilarious conversation with the dame that ran the little local shop that sells racecards, books, mementos, etc. She so obviously knew zilch about racing or horses.
“Have you maybe got a copy of the book about Pocket Power?”
“Yes, the one about Pocket Power”.
Which book’s that?”
“It came out late last year, it’s new … it’s just called “Pocket”. Have you got a copy I can buy?”
“About Pocket Power?”
“Yes, you know, about the famous South African racehorse, Pocket Power”.
“I can sell you a really good book of recipes if you like.”
That’s enough to make one think!