Soft Falling Rain stamped himself as our leading juvenile male sprinter this season when he cruised clear to maintain his unblemished record and win the R500 000 Gr1 SA Nursery run over 1160m. His victory sealed a Champions Day Nursery clean sweep for South African-breds.
After the knockout blow in the SA Fillies Nursery just a half-hour earlier, punters nervously allowed Mike De Kock’s smart unbeaten speed machine to drift from a dip in the red at 8-10 to start what in hindsight was a rather generous 13-10. But they needn’t have worried as the son of a retired icon of the local stallion ranks, National Assembly, came home unchallenged under Anton Marcus to win by 4,5 lengths with no opposition in sight.
It certainly warrants a mention that both Nurseries were won by South African bred horses, on a day where the sought- after Graded Race credits were split 6-3 in favour of the locals.
As was anticipated, the Gr1 race was a very quick affair with KwaZulu-Natal raider Lovestruck slow out. Donnie Brasco, Microstate and War Horse cut out a solid gallop down the inside and were at each other for the first half of the contest. All the while, the quietly fancied Marwing Trippi colt Ziparana kept Soft Falling Rain honest on the outside of the track. The Trippi and the National Assembly moved ahead of the chasing pack at around the 500m marker and thereafter the exacta became a predictable formality.
As the field approached the 400m post, Marcus gave the favourite his signal to go and Soft Falling Rain stretched away like a good horse to win smartly. He streaked clear to win by the best part of 4,5 lengths. Ziparana stayed on for second,while the Port Elizabeth raider Greenacre, rattled through with a late flourish to secure third at any old price.
Trainer Sean Tarry would have been pleased by the performances of his two runners, Blushing Peter and The Hangman, who ran fourth and fifth respectively. They were well beaten at 7 and 7,25 lengths behind the good winner but they should start hot orders the next time they step out in maiden company.
Soft Falling Rain covered the distance of 1160m in a time of 67,68 secs, in his second feature victory and by far his best performance to date.
In The Wars
The juvenile form is often topsy turvy and there were the inevitable disapointments. But isn’t it funny how the good ones stand out and keep performing?
Corne Spies’ War Horse was the worst below-par performer and finished a well beaten 9,5 lengths behind the winner. This son of Victory Moon had managed to get within 0,75 lengths of Soft Falling Rain in the Listed Stormbird Stakes, but after showing a measure of toe, he fell away to nothing on Saturday. The previously consistent Leon Erasmus-trained Mogok’s Desire also showed good pace, but brought the Protea Stakes form into disrepute. He had run second there to War Horse, but was beaten 7,75 lengths on Saturday.
Soft Falling Rain was bred by Highlands Stud and Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum went to R350 000 for him at the 2011 Cape Premier Yearling Sale. He is from the penultimate crop of only eight foals by Danzig stallion National Assembly. They are sadly not making anymore National Assemblys. What a great servant this Canadian-bred has been to the South African breeding industry.
Soft Falling Rain is out of the Giant’s Causeway mare Gardener’s Delight, who won once over 1800m. She also produced the two-time winning miler Rose Garden, by Spectrum. There is every indication that, despite his flashy speed, that Soft Falling Rain could well get a mile as he matures. He will get every assistance with being taught good habits in the De Kock yard.
He has won four from four starts for total stake earnings of R496 000.
It goes without saying that, while we watch the two year old form with some circumspection, this fellow is very talented. He’ll be around a long time yet. This was his biggest payday to date and it sure as the rain in the Cape winter, won’t be his last.