In a fitting tribute to the late racing administrator and owner Roy Eckstein, the rain fell over Greyville Racecourse as Tales Of Bravery returned to the winner’s enclosure after an impressive win in the R300 000 Gr2 Drill Hall Stakes. The smart son of Kahal was one of Eckstein’s favourites and the gelding looks well on track for an overdue tilt at the Vodacom Durban July.
The outpouring of sympathy and grief following the untimely recent passing of Gold Circle’s first Chairman and a man who invested passionately in the sport, is testimony to the high esteem in which he was held. It was thus appropriate that the 2012 Champions Season was launched at Greyville on an afternoon where Eckstein owned a Graded race winner.
The Drill Hall Stakes looked to be a tough puzzle for punters with a mixed bag of horses opening their campaigns but the smart money was spot-on as Tales Of Bravery was backed from 10-1 to start at 9-2.
The race provided an exciting entertainment spectacle with Anton Marcus leading the early charge on the poorly drawn Rebel Knight. Our champion jockey was left with little choice but to bounce his mount quickly from his wide draw and take up the running. Rebel Knight was chased by Captain’s Secret and Moroccan, while Chesalon showed his well-being with a remarkable flash of toe to lay in fourth and just three lengths off the leaders.
Turning for home Rebel Knight gamely kept finding while the challenges came from all around. Karl Neisius was desperately searching for an opening for Depardieu while Piere Strydom was hard at work exhorting Chesalon to put his best foot forward. At the same instance, MJ Byleveld brought Tales Of Bravery from near last into the straight and produced him down the outside. The son of Kahal made up the ground with his enormous stride to win going away by 1,75 lengths in a time of 83,03 secs. MJ Byleveld saluted the crowd and his youthful supporters in the Greyville private suites.
Chesalon stayed on well for second place. This was a particularly good effort over a distance short of his best after his four month break from racing. He had run fifth in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate behind Gimmethegreenlight and was reported lame and scratched from the 2012 J&B Met. He could yet prove one of the dark horse finds of this season and Mike Bass will welcome a four year old with above average promise.
Gavin Van Zyl’s Bulsara finished with a burst to grab the third cheque from the gallant Rebel Knight. He ran without blinkers after his five month rest and it could be argued that something had to stay on best and run third. Time will show whether this was a flash in the pan or a genuine spark of resurgence from a once highly-rated fellow .
The only three year old in the field and the eventual favourite, Depardieu, was not disgraced in finishing fifth and 2,7 lengths off. He had to be switched twice in the final stages and appeared reluctant to take one or two of the tight gaps that appeared. This was his first run at Greyville and also his first under lights. He will win more races.
As for Kavanagh? He never showed and eventually finished in seventh position and 3,05 lengths off the winner. He can run without our money in the future.
Tales Of Bravery is a horse that has flown below the radar for much of his racing career. That assertion is contradicted somewhat by his merit rating of 113 and the fact that he has won nine races.
Saturday’s Drill Hall Stakes was his biggest win to date, although he did win two Gr3’s in 2010 in the Matchem Stakes run over 1400m and the Winter Guineas over 1800m. In fact 2010 was a big year for him as he also conquered the legendary Pocket Power in a 1500m Pinnacle Stakes. He was to go on and run fourth and 2,75 lengths behind Past Master in the 2011 J&B Met, but could not repeat that feat this year, when fading to finish eighth behind Igugu.
He has won three of his six starts this season since his six month holiday after a forgettable Gauteng season campaign in 2011. He had run unplaced behind Dancewiththedevil in the Gr1 Horse Chestnut Stakes and then finished six lengths behind outsider Happy Landing in the Gr1 President’s Champions Challenge
Tales Of Bravery has won nine of twenty-five starts and run eight places for career earnings of R1 292 358. He cost R100 000 as a National Yearling Sale graduate.
He was bred by Dean Maroun’s Victory Moon Breeding and is by Kahal out of the two-time winning Caesour mare Emperor’s Warning.
Tales Of Bravery’s tough versatility is a living tribute to his sire Kahal, and he could yet make his presence felt this season.
Drill Hall S. (SAf-G2) (5/5)
Greyville, South Africa, May 5, R300.000, 1400m, turf, good, 1.23.05 (CR
TALES OF BRAVERY (SAF), 60.0, b g 5, Kahal (GB) – Emperor’s Warning (SAF) by
Caesour. Owner R S Eckstein; breeder Victory Moon Breeding (SAF); trainer V
H Marshall; jockey M Byleveld (R198.913)
Chesalon (SAF), 60.0, b g 4, Fort Wood – Sarabande (SAF) by Goldmark (SAF)
Bulsara (SAF), 60.0, b g 5, Silvano (GER) – Gay Regina (SAF) by Sportsworld
Margins: 1¾, sh hd, sh hd
Also ran: Rebel Knight (SAF) 60.0, Depardieu (SAF) 58.0, Lake Arthur (SAF)
60.0, Kavanagh (SAF) 60.0, The Shark (ZIM) 60.0, Moroccan (ZIM) 60.0,
Captain’s Secret (SAF) 60.0, Lion In Winter (SAF) 60.0, Kiss Again (SAF)
60.0, Splash Gold (SAF) 60.0, Bielorruso (ARG) 60.0