Trainer Gavin Van Zyl was the toast of the Scott Brothers’ Highdown Stud in the KZN Midlands on Sunday as he trained the first stakes winner for their stallion, Breeders Cup Mile winner Miesque’s Approval. The smart three year old Eton Square won a tight finish to the Gr3 Betting World Jubilee Handicap run over 1800m at Turffontein.
There is a lot of history in this story of one of the great founding families of modern South African horseracing. The three brothers, Desmond, Robin and Neville Scott acquired a dairy farm of about 530 acres just outside Nottingham Road over forty years ago. Initially the dairy was retained to help fund the development needed to convert the property into a stud farm and the first stallion to stand on the farm was a son of Wilwyn, called Kimberley Kid, who was out of the Hyperion mare Staward.
In the early 1970s, Kimberley Kid was joined by Jungle Cove who went on to become champion sire five times and sired a champion, Bush Telegraph. Jungle Cove ended his career at Highlands Stud in the Western Cape but he was followed at Highdown by another great champion Foveros.
Highdown also bred the great son of Oligarchy, Politician and these days Mogok is their flagbearer. The arrival of the very first Breeders’ Cup Champion ever to retire to stud here in Miesque’s Approval, was greeted with some anticipation and Sunday’s Gr3 success was long overdue.
The 2012 Jubilee Handicap field boasted a nice mix of hard-knocking older handicappers and a few talented four year olds, but it was left to two fast emerging three year olds to provide the real entertainment and fireworks. The very smart 28-10 favourite Golden Crest looked all set to record his fourth win in succession, but was denied by the obviously upwardly mobile Eton Square who ran on the better in the final 300m.
The Mike Azzie-trained Masai Warrior led early from Extra Cover with Without Malice and Carnaby Street following, while Eton Square and Golden Crest were well settled towards the rear.
At the halfway marker the powerful front-running filly Without Malice had taken over and led at a solid gallop from Extra Cover, and Masai Warrior more settled in third, while Carnaby Street and Seal led the bunch further back.
Turning for home Marcus unleashed Golden Crest who looked to be travelling very well and the son of Silvano bounced into a two length lead. Trainer GeoffWoodruff must have been banking the cheque at about the 200m marker, but the great competitor Robbie Fradd had other ideas as he urged the Van Zyl horse down the inside rail. In a matter of strides Eton Square had gained the ascendancy and he won a good race. Backed from 10-1 to 5-1, Eton Square scored by a neck in a time of 109,87secs. Golden Crest may well be more effective over a mile, and he will yet win many more.
The question that will be answered in time is, really how good is Eton Square?
After running second over 1160m on a well-supported debut, he won next time out over a too-short Vaal 1200m. He was then stepped up into the relative big league, and ran a cracker when powering through late to go down two lengths to the capable George Scott-trained Without Malice over a mile at Turffontein. He turned the tables on her this afternoon by an emphatic 17 lengths.
The gelding did jump from the best draw and was receiving 3kgs from the vastly more experienced four-time winning proven talent that is Golden Crest, but the fight and resolve that he displayed in the final 200m spoke of plenty to come.
The Scott Brothers-bred Eton Square is by 2006 American Champion Turf horse and Breeders Cup Mile winner Miesque’s Approval out of the three-time winning Model Man mare, Monroe. The latter was trained in her racing career by the former KZN-based Cyril Naidoo and was quite versatile winning her races from 1200m to 1900m.
Eton Square was a R280 000 National Two Year Old Sale graduate and has only run 4 times for 2 wins and 2 places for stakes of R207 875. With natural maturity and more racing experience he looks to have the makings of a top horse and looks an exciting prospect.
Jubilee Hcp (SAf-G3) (6/10)
Turffontein, South Africa, June 10, R200.000, 1800m, turf, good, 1.49.87.
ETON SQUARE (SAF), 52.0, b g 3, Miesque’s Approval – Monroe (SAF) by Model
Man (SAF). Owner Bold Moves 860 & O D T Visser; breeder Scott Bros (SAF);
trainer G v Zyl; jockey R Fradd (R125.000)
Golden Crest (SAF), 55.0, b g 3, Silvano (GER) – Golden Heart (SAF) by
Smanjemanje (SAF), 61.0, b g 5, Kahal (GB) – In Style (SAF) by Model Man
Margins: sh hd, 3, 1¼
Also ran: Meadow Magic (SAF) 56.5, Knock On Wood (SAF) 56.5, Seal (SAF)
62.0, Galanthus (SAF) 60.0, Go Indigo (SAF) 54.0, Extra Cover (SAF) 52.0,
Masai Warrior (SAF) 55.0, Without Malice (SAF) 58.5, Carnaby Street (SAF)