Cape racing honoured one of the legendary trainers of the modern era and his great Iron Filly with the running of the R115 000 Listed Terrance Millard Olympic Duel Stakes at Kenilworth.
The fillies sprint attracted a maximum field of eighteen and presented punters with a tough puzzle. Justin Snaith’s Lake Drawsko went off a weak 5-1 favourite with public money allegiances well spread across the board.
The two Stephen Page-trained longshots Therese Of Liseux and Palo Sante led the middle to inside group with Lake Drawsko leading the party down the supposedly better outside strip. Dean Kannemeyer’s Silver Apples moved up threateningly with 400m to run, but both Kwitizina and Reflective Image were also making their forward moves.
Karis Teetan rode a clever race, switching Reflective Image around runners and she hit the front 200m from home and went on to win well at 13-2. Teetan admitted that he had to bluff and ride the Tamburlaine filly ‘crooked.’
Trainer Brett Crawford maintained his excellent form and said that Reflective Image had earned a well deserved break.
The winner is a highly consistent daughter of Tamburlaine, who didn’t make the grade in South Africa and has relocated to Zimbabwe. She was bred by her owners, Messrs Jolliffe and Kidd out of the very fast Goldkeeper mare, Velvet’s Image, who won her four races over sprints.
Reflective Image has now won three of her seven starts for R185 000 in prize money.
Former trainer Terrance Millard, in whose honour the feature is named, was on course to officiate at the post-race formalities. Millard has few peers and has an unparalleled record as a racehorse trainer having won six Durban Julys, six Mets, six Gold Cups, seven champion trainers’ titles and 117 Grade 1 races amongst his extraordinary achievements. His first Met win came in 1963 with Polar Bear. Next it was Peter Beware in 1969; then Arctic Cove (1983), Mark Anthony (1988), Jungle Warrior (1990) and Olympic Duel (1991).
Millard’s first Durban July winner was Tecla Bluff in 1983.In 1984, the mare Devon Air won. In 1986, it was Occult, in 1988 Royal Chalice, in 1989 Right Prerogative and in 1990 Ilustrador.
Now in his 82nd year, Millard fondly recalled the ‘Iron Filly’ Olympic Duel, after whom the afternoon’s feature was named. She had survived one of the worst equine road accidents in South Africa and went on to produce three Gr1 winners from her first three offspring at stud.
Jockey Sean Cormack will probably be changing allegiances when it comes to his preferred airline in the future. He missed a winning ride in the opening race thanks to a delayed flight out of Durban, but Robert Kathi grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
Scorpio Rising had made the pace in the Maiden Juvenile Plate over 1200m but Kathi produced Count Emmanuale on the outside to win at 40-1 and beat his more fancied stablemate Lake Benjamin into second. Greg Ennion trained the exacta and said that the winner was in desperate need of gelding. The 18-10 favourite Oceans Edge flattered briefly but plodded into third, while Dean Kannemeyer’s unfancied first-timer Diplomatic caught the eye when rattling late into fourth spot.
Justin Snaith had better luck in the second race when Richard Fourie got the best out of the pacy 28-10 shot Victorian Secret, who was having her second outing. The daughter of Captain Al had run second to subsequent Nursery winner The West Is Wide on debut and and skipped clear to win easily. The 75-1 outsider Rainbow Dash caught the eye on debut when flying up for a 2,25 length second.
Trainer Snaith said that he had ‘done nothing’ with the winner since her last outing ten weeks ago as she had finished shin-sore. Her jockey’s comments that ‘this is quality and going places’ should be heeded and the Cheveley Stud bred looks quite an exciting prospect.
The 11-20 favourite Dressed In Cotton went down by a half length in the Pick 6 opener, a Maiden Plate over 1000m. Whether it was overconfidence by his rider Morne Winnaar or he was just beaten by the better horse, time will tell. Karis Teetan brought Just Harry up to take the favourite on about 350m out and the two went stride for stride, with the smaller horse getting the better of exchanges.
Trainer Ronnie Sheehan suggested Just Harry ‘would win again’ and he was nibbled at to start at 13-2. It was the Silvano gelding’s fifteenth start today and owner-breeder Willempie Engelbrecht made the long trip to be on course, against his Dad’s advices.
Mike Bass trained the fourth and fifth race double. His first winner, Sussex Song, started at 25-1 and skipped away from his opponents in the straight to win the 1400m Maiden Plate by four lengths. He beat the favourite Eighth Man who was conclusively beaten by the better horse on the day.
Assistant trainer Candice Robinson admitted that the son of Doowaley was on his way to PE after today, but that he may have earned a reprieve. She had no explanation for the dramatic improvement of a horse that had managed only one place in ten starts, but said that he may have enjoyed the sting out of the ground. Aldo Domeyer rode the winner.
Bernard Fayd’herbe rode the next Bass winner when he got the well supported Shanghai Kid to slip through on the rail and keep going in courageous style to withstand the late dash of Jet Explorer, who ruined his chances when slow away.
Shanghai Kid took a couple of knocks and bumps during the MR 72 Handicap and showed promise and maturity to record his second win from eight starts. The pacemaker Hidden Reserve stayed on resolutely for third and should not be long in winning his second race.
The Yogas Govender yard are in winning form and after their two winners at Greyville on Friday evening, they produced a grandstand exacta finish to the final leg of the jackpot, an MR 78 Handicap over 1800m.
Joey Ramsden’s British Banker set the early fractions and led from Gin ‘N Tonic with stablemates King Lizard and Cavalli in close attendance.
Robert Kathi got the better and quicker run on King Lizard and he came forward at the 400m marker down the inside, while wider out Aldo Domeyer was getting into Cavalli. The two geldings faced up and went head for head to the line. Kathi appeared confident that he had kept King Lizard going but the photo didn’t agree with the nod going to Domeyer and Cavalli.
Govender said afterwards that he had wished it was a dead-heat, while Domeyer conceded that he was surprised at the fight put up by the less illustrious King Lizard.
Aldo Domeyer and Karis Teetan were the top riders on the day with a double apiece.
Karl Neisius produced a top ride for trainer Stan Elley to win the final race on the Noble American mare American Fantasy. The MR 74 Handicap run over 1000m saw 16 runners go to post,but there were few surprises in store for punters after a couple of tough results earlier on.
Sticking to her inside draw, American Fantasy was always going well and managed to withstand the late charge of the Kotzen-trained Masai Princess. She has won three from thirty starts and was bred by popular local Veterinarian Dr Anna Peggram out of her Golden Thatch mare, Lavender Fields.