Golden Chateau handed bookmakers a Christmas present exactly ten months early when he sprung a 100/1 upset in the Betting World Gauteng Guineas over 1600m at a damp and grey Turffontein on Saturday. The least fancied of the four entries from the Mike de Kock stable after finishing a well beaten fifth in an ordinary Vaal handicap in January, Golden Chateau came into the first leg of the Triple Crown flying well below the radar even though in truth he had not run badly when finishing fifth in the Gr2 Dingaans over the same course-and-distance at his penultimate start, writes MATTHEW LIPS.
It was no secret whatsoever that all was not well with Golden Chateau’s Dingaans-winning stable companion Silver Flyer, who’d contracted colic on his journey home from the Gr1 Cape Guineas in December and who was plainly not at his best for Saturday’s showdown. He was allowed to drift from an opening call of 28/10 to start at 4/1 as unbeaten Slumdogmillionaire found plenty of support to go off as the 19/10 favourite in a maximum field of 16. Sean Tarry looked to have a strong hand, particularly with Whiteline Fever and recent Gr3 winner Pomodoro, who respectively started at 4/1 and 13/2.
Rain earlier in the afternoon had made the going a little sticky, but the Guineas was run at a decent pace and it was Straw Market who cut out the running ahead of Beacon Flare and Golden Chateau, with Waner, Potala Palace (who had to come across from a very wide draw) and Brooks-Club next in line, just ahead of Whiteline Fever. Slumdogmillionaire and Pomodoro were both well off the pace as they turned for home, where Beacon Flare quickly came forward to challenge and led briefly as Straw Market began weakening.
Potala Palace was also right in contention and led narrowly as Beacon Flare faded, but Golden Chateau had been in the mix from the word go and was still very much in the hunt as Heavy Metal moved up menacingly wider out and Slumdogmillionaire began to unwind his challenge towards the stands’ side. Brooks-Club also stormed into the picture over the final 200m and the race was wide open less than 100m from the line, but Golden Chateau had stuck his nose in front and he steadfastly refused to cave in, finding more under Derreck David to repel Brooks-Club by half-a-length. Slumdogmillionaire ran on well to finish a similar distance further away in third, a mere short head in front of Heavy Metal. Potala Palace was beaten only 1.15 lengths into fifth, but Pomodoro and Whiteline Fever both disappointed and could only finish seventh and eighth, beaten 3.75 lengths and five lengths by the winner, respectively. Much as had been feared, Silver Flyer made no show and finished 11th, 7.75 lengths behind his victorious stable companion.
There was plenty to like about the efforts of the Gavin van Zyl-trained duo of Brooks-Club and Slumdogmillionaire. The former was racing for the second time after being gelded and showed big improvement over his latest effort, where he’d finish unplaced behind Pomodoro at Gr3 level. He ran on stoutly here, and should stay the 1800m of the Gr1 SA Classic on 31st March. However, Slumdogmillionaire looks set to make even bigger improvement over the additional 200m of the Classic, and may well find the 2450m of the Gr1 SA Derby in April within his reach, too. He was far from disgraced while losing his unbeaten tag, and the lightly raced son of Strike Smartly looks an exciting prospect for longer races than this.
Golden Chateau had only finished a neck behind Pomodoro in the Dingaans and with glorious hindsight perhaps didn’t deserve a three-digit starting price, although his latest effort at the Vaal was admittedly miles short of what one would expect from a serious Guineas contender. He showed plenty of courage to fight off all challengers in a contest where most of the others that had raced handy fell away in the straight and there was no semblance of a fluke about his performance, but it is however highly debatable whether he will be able to show the same level of form beyond 1600m. It’s easy to visualize a few of these rivals reversing form with Golden Chateau should he take his chance in the SA Classic, although with the De Kock factor you never know what else could be waiting over the horizon.
At first glance, Australian import Golden Chateau appears to be bred to sprint (not unlike Cape Guineas winner Variety Club). He is from the first crop of English Gr2 winning juvenile Chateau Istana (by Grand Lodge), whose five career wins all came over 1000m. Golden Chateau’s dam, the Deputy Minister mare Accent On Gold, won one race over 1200m in her native United States. Be that as it may, Golden Chateau saw out the mile on sticky ground very well indeed, to record his second career win from six starts. In the process, his stake earnings rocketed from R86 200 to R717 200.
Betting World Gauteng Guineas (SAf-G2) (2/25)
Turffontein, South Africa, February 25, R1 million, 1600m, turf, good, 1.38.59 (CR 1.35.44).
GOLDEN CHATEAU (AUS), 58.0, br c 3, Chateau Istana (GB) – Accent On Gold by Deputy Minister (CAN). Owner I F M van Schalkwyk, G L Blank & I V Shore; breeder P Thomson (AUS); trainer M F de Kock; jockey D David (R625.000)
Brooks-Club (SAF), 58.0, b g 3, Strike Smartly (CAN) – Lady Brooke (SAF) by Fort Wood
Slumdogmillionaire (SAF), 58.0, b c 3, Strike Smartly (CAN) – Make A Million (AUS) by Last Tycoon (IRE)
Margins: ½, ½, nose
Also ran: Heavy Metal (SAF) 58.0, Potala Palace (SAF) 58.0, Baracah (SAF) 58.0, Pomodoro (SAF) 58.0, Whiteline Fever (SAF) 58.0, Zambucca (SAF) 58.0, E-Jet (SAF) 58.0, Silver Flyer (SAF) 58.0, Beacon Flare (SAF) 58.0, Straw Market (SAF) 58.0, Governor General (SAF) 58.0, Wagner (SAF) 58.0, Red Barrel (SAF) 58.0