Daily News nominee Vettel ran a cracker to win the Highland Night Cup run over 2500m at Clairwood on Sunday. The Argentinian-bred son of Know Heights beat Lance Wiid’s Belmonte by 2,25 lengths and looks like yet another promising De Kock stayer in the making.
Whether the youngster is quite good enough to take on the better sorts over 2000m on 2 June at a track like Greyville remains to be seen, but he showed that staying is his game with his best win to date.
This race was named in honour of the top-class stayer Highland Night, who achieved the rare distinction of a Gold Cup double, winning it in 2002 and 2003. The son of Badger Land was trained to his first win by the late legend Buddy Maroun and then siwtched to Dennis Drier. He ran in the silks of Andre and Joyce Macdonald.
Vettel has some way to go to reach Highland Night’s heights, but he is a progressive horse who looks like he can only improve with age and racing. He was poorly drawn here and Anthony Delpech hit the front very much earlier than he would have chosen. But the colt showed great fight to stay on well and ward off his challengers. He has won three of his seven starts and his versatility is reflected in the fact that he was placed over 1200m and has won up to 2600m.
Bred by Haras Anderson, he was bought by De Kock in Brazil and is out of the Dodge mare, Inner’s Girl, a full sister to Gr1 winner Lost Love.
His stallion,by Shirley Heights, Know Heights passed on in 2008 in the same week that his son, Negro da Gaita, won the Gr1 São Paulo Derby run over 2400m. Mike De Kock admitted that he is a horse that he has not yet ‘got to the bottom of.’ That has to be good and mean there is much more to come.
A bizarre feature of this race was the run by the 2011 Gr2 Gold Vase winner Grey Cossack. The Herman Brown-trained gelding lost five lengths at the start and was then rushed around his field by jockey Keagan Latham. As they turned for home Grey Cossack fell away to nothing and finished stone last 49,50 lengths off the winner. That makes it a hat-trick of lasts since his Gold Vase win and he looks quite ready for retirement.
The enigmatic Castlethorpe also signalled his return to the form that he has always promised, with a smart win in the Pinnacle Stakes run over 1200m.
Bernard Fayd’herbe produced the Australian-bred son of Not A Single Doubt in the final 300m to win by three lengths in a time of 68,82 secs. He was allowed to start at a generous 9-2.
Gelding and natural maturity appear to have done the trick for the good-looking former Gr3 Winter Guineas winner who was registering his seventh win from 18 starts. He had won his maiden at Clairwood Park over 1450m at his third start in August 2010 and then ran a 1,75 length third behind Tales Of Bravery in the Gr3 Matchem Stakes at Durbanville. His close-up fourth behind What A Winter in the 2010 Gr2 Selangor Cup had the connections rubbing their hands in glee at his seemingly unlimited potential for the Cape Summer Season that lay ahead.
But disappointment followed at his next three starts. He ran downfield in the Gr1 Cape Guineas, the Listed Politician Stakes and the Gr1 Cape Derby before being rested and coming out in the winter two win three races on the trot, which included the Cape Winter Guineas.
A move up to Durban for the Champions Season once again placed a question mark against his perceived ability to take on genuine Gr1 opposition. He ran unplaced in the Gr1 Gold Challenge, the Durban July and the Gr1 Champions Cup. There were excuses in the July though, but he went back to the Cape with his tail between his legs and it was back to the drawing board.
Deciding to return for another tilt at Champions Season this year, Mike Bass dropped in at Port Elizabeth on 23 March on his way to Durban to contest the Listed Sprint Cup at Fairview. Castlethorpe landed up paying for the petrol and winning it with Bass grabbing the first three places, courtesy of Captain’s Secret and Rushing Wind.
After his latest win at Clairwood, he looks to have options of sprinting and mile races. Hopefully the connections won’t try and force him to stay again.
Another interesting winner at Clairwood was the Charles Laird-trained Dylan Thomas filly, Dylan’s Promise, who won the Maiden Juvenile Plate over 1600m at her second start. Ridden by Anton Marcus, she was always up with the pace and stayed on well to beat Fast Jet by a length. The De Kock first-timer and favourite, Aneefa, was very green and ran all over the place to end up a well-beaten fourth. She actually carried out the Herman Brown-trained Lady Bianca, who finished 0,75 lengths behind her. The official Stipes Report makes no mention of this. Very strange indeed.
Sold for R825 000 at the Emperor’s Palace Ready To Run Sale held in November 2011, Dylan’s Promise was originally purchased for $35,000 by Heritage Bloodstock from the Erinvale Thoroughbreds draft at the 2011 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale.
Dylan’s Promise is the fourth winner from Group I placed Rigoletto mare Madonna, who is the grand-dam of this season’s smart three year-old filly Our Miss Jones, who finished second in the Group I SAJC Australasian Oaks.
Dylan’s Promise is the third Australian bred winner from the first Southern Hemisphere bred crop of foals by champion racehorse Dylan Thomas.