This win means a lot more than people realise. The emotional words of trainer Charles Laird after he had bounced back into the limelight with a superb win in the R500 000 Gr1 Golden Horse Casino Sprint. The Joostes’ Australian-bred three year old Delago Deluxe came away for a smooth win under Anton Marcus.
Horseracing can be a cruel and nasty game at times, and the much maligned Laird was no doubt only echoing his personal satisfaction after his gradual retirement into the shadows from his role as a one-time first choice trainer to the powerful Jooste string. Delago Deluxe is probably realistically the best horse that Laird has left for Mayfair Speculators and he has worked wonders with the Encosta De Lago colt.
The Gr1 Golden Horse Casino Sprint always produces a thrilling contest, and the 2012 vintage upheld the proud tradition. A major disappointment was the Mike Bass-trained favourite What A Winter, who was backed to start a 22-10 favourite, but ran thirteenth 8,30 lengths off the winner to register his worst ever performance and his second consecutive shocker in this race.
But it was Delago Deluxe’s moment of glory. Last year’s Gr1 Gold Medallion winner was not on his best behaviour just prior to the jump and was being slightly erratic in the gates as the powerful line-up took their places at the 1200mstart.
Gauteng visitor Deliver The Power and Delago Deluxe’s stablemate Unannounced made the early pace in a race that was naturally endowed with plenty of keen pacers. At the halfway mark the keen Unannounced continue to go at a solid clip as Two Tone, Deliver The Power and Snowdon made their forward moves.
Just as Unannounced looked to be running a cracker, Strydom brought Snowdon through with a challenge, while the grey Shades Of Indigo was weaving his way through. Marcus though was just off them and he produced Delago Deluxe to finish best of all, with Snowdon leading the charging stampede behind him.
Marcus said afterwards that the erstwhile keen front-runner had developed into a colt who liked to run at them late in his races and he had ridden him accordingly. His only moment of anxiety came when the talented three year old had started hanging across the track.
It was a second Gr1 winner on the afternoon for Marcus, who had earlier ridden All Is Secret to win the Allan Robertson Championship. In fact Marcus may not even have been on course had it not been for his boss’ refusal to allow him to travel abroad. Jooste racing manager Derek Brugman suggested almost smugly in the post-race formalities that Marcus had been declined permission to miss this meeting. Marcus had apparently received an invitation to ride the 2010/11 Hong Kong Horse Of The Year Ambitious Dragon for Tony Millard in Hong Kong on Sunday.
Besides a relieved and pleased Laird, there were also one or two other pleased trainers afterwards.
Ormonde Ferraris would have been thrilled with the lightly raced four year old Snowdon’s forward performance in running second under Piere Strydom after a break of three months. Joey Ramsden also wouldn’t have been expecting the earth from his two representatives, but both Copper Parade and Shades Of Indigo acquitted themselves with admirable dignity at any price. The shock Gr2 2012 Cape Merchants winner Shades Of Indigo loomed up menacingly and powered through to stay on for third and 1,35 lengths off, while former Gr1 Golden Horseshoe winner Copper Parade improved dramatically to run a gallant fourth. Their presence contributed in no small measure to boosting he quartet dividend to in excess of R45 000.
Besides the disappointing What A Winter, there were a few runners to emerge with dented egos.
Laird’s other runner Unannounced showed a lot of pace but faded out of contention late in the race. Castlethorpe ran on well enough to finish in sixth and 2,30 lengths adrift but showed that, despite his recent improvement, he is no Gr1 sprinter. Three year old Depardieu finished just behind Castlethorpe and we are just about through making a case for this smart youngster.
The Brown-Robinson partnership’s Antious ran his second bad race in a row, and he obviously has unresolved medical problems. Link Man, who bled in the L’Ormarin’s Queen’s Plate, ran stone last and trailed off, and falls into the same camp as Antious.
Delago Deluxe was bred in New South Wales Australia by Mr G Harvey, who sent the Flying Spur mare Succeeding to Coolmore’s Fairy King stallion Encosta De Lago. Succeeding won three times from1400m to 1600m and is a half-sister to two Gr1 winners Down Under.
Talk of Delago Deluxe standing as a stallion may be premature in a country where we don’t normally send sound three year olds to the breeding paddocks. But he is extremely well-bred and as a dual Gr1 winner from a former champion stallion with one of the most expensive covering fees in the Southern Hemisphere, it could prove a smart commercial move rather than waiting to harvest the odd juicy sprint plum that infrequently blossoms on our tracks.
Delago Deluxe recorded his second Gr1 win and his seventh victory from his eleven starts. He has earned R1 375 000.
Golden Horse Casino Sprint (SAf-G1) (5/26)
Scottsville, South Africa, May 26, R600.000, 1200m, turf, good, 1.09.81 (CR
DELAGO DELUXE (AUS), 54.0, b c 3, Encosta De Lago (AUS) – Succeeding (AUS)
by Flying Spur (AUS). Owner Mrs I and Mr M J Jooste; breeder G Harvey (AUS);
trainer C S Laird; jockey A Marcus (R375.000)
Snowdon (SAF), 55.5, b g 4, Western Winter – Antonia’s Law (SAF) by National
Shades Of Indigo (SAF), 52.0, b c 6, Indigo Magic (GB) – Palace Bride (AUS)
by Palace Music
Margins: 1¼, sh hd, sh hd
Also ran: Copper Parade (SAF) 54.5, Rushing Wind (SAF) 55.0, Castlethorpe
(AUS) 56.0, The Shark (ZIM) 52.0, Depardieu (SAF) 54.0, Unannounced (AUS)
54.0, Rebel Knight (SAF) 54.5, Deliver The Power (SAF) 56.5, Moroccan (ZIM)
53.0, What A Winter (SAF) 60.0, Two Tone (SAF) 53.0, Antious (ARG) 56.5,
Link Man (SAF) 57.0