The Lammerskraal Stud–bred Viva Maria is very talented and may have been rather cleverly named after a 1965 comedy movie. But there was nothing funny in the manner in which the 50-1 shot downed her hotly supported odds-on stablemate Ilha Bela to win the R500 000 Gr1 Woolavington 2000 at Greyville on Saturday.
Backers of the fancied grey SA Oaks winner Ilha Bela would have squirmed in horror as Anthony Delpech rode a supremely clever tactical race to outsmart Anton Marcus in a game of cat-and- mouse, which ended in victory for the mouse, and a last laugh for Lammerskraal.
It must also have been a race of mixed feelings for trainer Mike De Kock. Favourite punters may have suffered nervewracking flashbacks to the Gr2 Gauteng Guineas in February, when De Kock produced Golden Chateau to win at 100-1, while his stablemate Silver Flyer started favourite and finished a dismal eleventh.
These freakish things happen in horseracing and Mike Rattray and Sally Jordaan will take the Gr1 booster to Viva Maria’s already highly desirable and exciting broodmare prospects with both hands.
The race was uneventful and Delpech set off early to play a game he must have mulled over a good few times prior to the race. The only way that Viva Maria knows to run her races is from out front and a few very astute form-studiers may have reckoned that, while she has won her races at Scottsville and Clairwood, her free- running style could well suit her debut at the Greyville circuit. And it sure did.
She led from shortly after the break followed by Pintari and Beloved Betty, while the second favourite Bambina Stripes, loped along under Kevin Shea in fourth. The red lights were flashing and the sirens were screaming at the entrance to the home straight as Delpech casually nipped clear and grabbed a few lengths on his colleagues.
But nobody challenged and it was too late for tears, or anything else really, as the Jet Master showed that her runs in the Oaks Trial behind Markofdistinction and the East Coast Handicap behind Feel My Love, were all wrong.
Glen Kotzen’s Beloved Betty was getting going down the inside and briefly appeared a danger, but went a little one–paced late and finished a 5,75 length fourth.
Favourite Ilha Bela, who had been about seven lengths adrift for most of the race took forever to get going and dashed down the centre when the race was largely over. She was four lengths short at the line.
Viva Maria won the race in a time of 120,70secs and never looked in any danger of being caught. Ilha Bela will have to improve if she wants to threaten the July top-guns, while Vaughan Marshall’s Dubai Gina kicked on smartly to pip the gallant Beloved Betty for third.
The disappointments were there, headed by Dennis Drier’s SA Fillies Classic winner Bambina Stripes, who was ridden far handier than she usually is. She faded to finish 8,25 lengths off.
Viva Maria, who races in the familiar red and white silks of her breeders Lammerskraal Stud, has now won 4 races and been placed twice from 8 starts for gross career earnings of R482 091.
The daughter of deceased champion stallion Jet Master, showed again what a terrific broodmare sire Badger Land is. He sired her dam Bardot, who raced to 5 wins from a mile to 2000m while in the care of Geoff Woodruff. And you may have worked out that the movie after which the filly got her name starred the famous French actress and singer, Brigitte Bardot.
In the end, probably only the staunch movie buffs may have included her. But this was a very promising effort by a filly who can only develop and get stronger from here.
Watch out for the sequel!
Woolavington 2000 (SAf-G1) (6/2)
Greyville, South Africa, June 2, R500.000, 2000m, turf, good, 2.00.70 (CR
VIVA MARIA (SAF), 58.0, b f 3, Jet Master (SAF) – Bardot (SAF) by Badger
Land. Owner & breeder Lammerskraal Stud (SAF); trainer M F de Kock; jockey A
Ilha Bela (SAF), 58.0, gr f 3, Fort Wood (USA) – Ilha Da Vitoria (BRZ) by
Dubai Gina (AUS), 58.0, b f 3, Dubai Destination – Anemometer (GB) by Sunday
Margins: 4, 1¼, ½
Also ran: Beloved Betty (SAF) 58.0, Razzle Dazzle Rose (SAF) 58.0, Felix The
Cat (SAF) 58.0, Thunder Dance (SAF) 58.0, Bambina Stripes (ARG) 58.0, Jet
Set Model (SAF) 58.0, Bermuda Sloop (SAF) 58.0, Tresco (SAF) 58.0, Misty
Morn (SAF) 58.0, Pintari (AUS) 58.0, Avenue Of Gold (SAF) 58.0