Young trainer Seb D’Aquino pulled off something of a giant-killing act when he sent out the former South African raced Argentinian gelding Choisir, to beat local favourite Earl Of Surrey to win the Gr3 Republic Cup at Borrowdale on Saturday.The winner carried the famous original Ipi Tombe silks to a heart-stopping win.
In a terrific advert for the second-hand market of South African horses, Choisir chalked up his second win on the trot. D’Aquino is fast emerging as a force to be reckoned with North of the Limpopo, and he capped a memorable day with a hat-trick of winners.
The fancied Lisa Harris-trained Earl Of Surrey was denied a remarkable 20th career victory, by the superior finish of the son of Thunder Gulch, who was receiving a healthy 8kgs from him. Earl Of Surrey banked the $10 000 second cheque and added to title-chasing jockey Gavin Lerena’s day of four frustrating second places.
Besides the winner, D’Aquino also saddled the fourth placed Burmese Cat and Pressure, who finished unplaced.
Choisir was one of three overseas bred horses in the field – Eight Street and the Geoff Woodruff-trained Royal Arrow were bred in Australia.
The race panned out perfectly and worked out magnificently according to the D’Aquino game-plan.
Former Charles Laird –trained Eight Street was slow out as Imperial Dice led Choisir and Burmese Cate, with the favourite Earl Of Surrey relaxed under Gavin Lerena some 3,5 lengths off them.
The order remained unchanged at the 1000m but turning into the straight they became more compressed as Imperial Dice came under pressure. Choisir, Burmese Cat, Earl Of Surrey and Captain’s Tiger all started exerting pressure.
About 300m out, Gavin Lerena was taking no chances and hit the front earlier than expected on the strong-running Earl Of Surrey. But Francois Herholdt had timed his late charge perfectly and he ran the gallant old warrior out of it late in a thrilling win for the young team.
Choisir was backed from 12-1 to start at 9-1 and won by 0,10 lengths in a time of 114,41 secs. Imperial Dice ran third with the other D’Aquino runner, Burmese Cat staying on for fourth.
D’ Aquino purchased Choisir , who was winning his second race on the trot, in Durban from Wayne Badenhorst. He has won over 33 000 US dollars with him, proving that the shrewd placing of ordinary South African horses can reap lucrative rewards in Zimbabwe.
An ecstatic D’Aquino said afterwards that he was thrilled to have won the Republic Cup:
“ This is a tremendous boost for my stable and I would really like to say a big thank you to all my loyal owners. I must also mention a specific word of appreciation to Ant Thomlinson, who owns Choisir, for backing me and having faith in me. This was a massive team effort,” he said.
D’Aquino added that he was most appreciative of the efforts of former SA jockey Lance Pagel who had relocated to Zim on a permanent basis. He said Pagel’s influence on the yard had been priceless. He then went on to thank stable employee Ashley De Jager, for her work behind the scenes.
D’Aquino said that Jessica Pagel had also played a major part in the acquisition of Choisir.
In closing, D’Aquino said that his close friend, Gareth Pepper, a South African Tellytrack presenter and Bloodstock Agent,had also played a huge role: “ Gareth’s tireless quest to promote our racing, and to boost our horses and owners and his general drive to increase the numbers of quality stock in our yard is remarkable. He is full of ideas and a veritable ball of enthusiasm and energy, ” said D’Aquino.
He concluded by saying that it was a thrill to be a part of the team that saw the famous colours of Ipi Tombe back in the winner’s enclosure.
The victor, who left South Africa a two-time winner after being conditioned initially by Geoff Woodruff and then Wayne Badenhorst in KZN, was bred in Argentina by La Esperanza. He is by Thunder Gulch out of the Confidential Talk mare, Choice.