In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. So goes the saying and it has been quite a week in KwaZulu-Natal with two one-eyed Australian-bred horses winning in the last two meetings.
Four Australian bred horses won on tonight’s card, but the one-eyed phenomenon got under way earlier this week. Glen Kotzen’s Dehere gelding, Political Playboy, won his first KZN start on Tuesday at Scottsville with just one eye, and an emotional trainer Dennis Drier was thrilled to lead in another one-eyed Aussie tonight in the impressive Lionize, who gave Stu Randolph his second win of the evening when spread-eagling his field to win the third, a Maiden Juvenile Plate over 1400m.
Drier explained that the son of Not A Single Doubt had lost his one eye on his first day on a spelling farm Down Under, after colliding with a pole. His former David Payne had recommended that the owners send the colt to Drier. And after just three earning career runs, the plan is certainly coming together. He led from gun to tape to beat Storm Dancer and the never threatening first timer. Storm Dancer.
Drier was the man of the moment with his three winners including the R125 000 Listed KwaZulu-Natal Stakes run over 1000m with the four year old Cape Cross filly Torra Bay, who now campaigns in the Knut Haug silks. The combination are riding a veritable crest of a wave at the moment after a great Cape campaign and the win last week of Bambina Stripes in the Gr1 SA Fillies Classic at Turffontein. Torra Bay has now won four of five starts.
Fast Forbes, he of Val De Ra fame, rode a confident race tracking the pacy Share The Silver and the fancied danger Chocolicious. He hit the front at what, in hindsight, looked a touch early at around the 300m marker. But the cool confident Forbes had not yet pressed the metal. The Drier filly stayed on like a good horse to hold a flying Sweet Aria- who swerved in away from the rail at her first green Greyville start, costing herself valuable ground. Trainer Brett Crawford will be thrilled with her run, while Sean Cormack partnered Team Valor’s Comtesse Dubois to a promising third after a rest.
All the top three ladies will pay to follow in the Champions Season filly sprints, but Chocolicious ran an awful worst ever career effort from a peach of a draw and put the seal on a forgettable evening for the Brown – Robinson training partnership.
Drier launched his wonderful evening when his bulky and rather masculine Black Minnaloushe filly Anne Trulove nabbed the 1-6 favourite Flitter in the dying strides to win the Maiden Plate over 1400m going away.
Building on her promising 35-1 debut at Greyville three weeks ago, she tracked the free striding heavily fancied Flitter the whole way around and then struck late down her inside, despite running green and wanting to run behind the fancied Van Zyl horse. Stuart Randolph rode a cracker and a thrilled owner Braam Van Huysteen was on hand to lead her in. Van Huysteen and his family had travelled all the way up from the Southern Cape town of George.
One disappointing Australian was the Elusive Quality colt Maak ‘N Plan who was fancied to win the Pick Six opener. Anton Marcus had the gelding tracking the pacy Badi into the straight, but his fight with his own head was to be his downfall as Badi kept going all the way to give Latham the first leg of a double. Maak ‘N Plan, unsurprisingly, tired and fell into a crater. He was running here for the first time in a tongue-tie, but the innovation didn’t work. He may be overrated, a brass, or a head case. Time will tell, but his R400 000 price tag is looking decidedly unpleasant for owner Markus Jooste at this point. Maybe it is time for a change of scenery in the Northern Cape?
Lago Lida made it three for the Australians when he rocketed through late to win the Graduation Plate over 1400m and jackpot first leg. The well supported Castle Ross made the pace but faded in the dash for home as Marcus produced Chisler wide out. Just when Chisler looked to break Marcus’ duck on the night, Corne Orffer produced the Mike Miller owned and trained Ecosta De Lago gelding to win easily.
A handsome fellow who was given to Miller by previous owner Robin Muir after the horse had bled, he could add to his three win tally and loves the course and distance. Miller certainly has found a winning recipe for his ailments.
Winning Form sponsored trainer Duncan Howells turned out stallion Black Minnaloushe’s second winner of the evening when the lightly tried Pinot Noir skipped clear under Keagan Latham to win the MR72 Handicap over 1300m. Howells said afterwards that Pinot Noir produces phenomenal work at home and was now starting to show his true ability.
Stolen Destiny reared as the field was released, in the process losing many lengths, but the Grey Eminence gelding showed some exciting ability to chase the winner home.
Trainer Colin Scott and Muzi Yeni had some compensation for the unlucky Stolen Destiny, when Yeni got the best out of the tiny Overlord filly Storm Goddes, to win the last race. In a blanket finish, and with only a few lengths separating the first seven horses, it was an exciting curtain call to a good evening.