The R200 000 Gr2 Gold Bracelet may have occupied a relatively minor billing in the bigger scheme of things on Super Saturday, but it produced an outstanding finish with Anton Marcus at his brilliant best. The favourite Happy Archer was dead and buried with 100m to run, but miraculously came again to collar Checceti in the final 50m.
Smiling from ear to ear after the race, our champion jockey attributed the extraordinary surge of energy from the 4yo Australian-bred to ‘divine intervention’ and it was very obvious that one of South Africa’s greatest ever jockeys had his breath taken away in those final strides by a sterling performance.
With the field decimated by the withdrawal of the two likely top contenders in Beach Beauty and Ilha Bela, the six horse field was always going to provide a tactical test of strength in a race devoid of any apparent genuine pace. Marcus’ colleagues put him under immediate pressure from the break by forcing the 11-10 favourite Happy Archer into the open.
She loped along out front from an unsettled Beloved Betty, Checceti, Frequent Flyer, Keep On Dreaming and with Ennion’s Europe To Africa at the rear.
The order remained largely unchanged until the top of the home straight, where Marcus was forced to pull the trigger as Happy Archer increased her lead momentarily. But Kevin Shea’s body language in the Tony Moodley silks looked to speak of confidence on Mike De Kock’s Checcetti and the duo cruised past a beaten looking Happy Archer down the inside at the 300m marker.
But in a unique racing moment and a stroke of genius that saw the whip switch from the right to his left hand, Marcus rallied the Tarry filly from her 1 length deficit to slowly regain the ascendancy in the final strides.
She beat Checcetti by a head in a time of 124,22secs with Frequent Flyer running on late. The latter had been worked upon all the way around by Karis Teetan and didn’t appear to relish her task. The rest were well beaten and Beloved Betty finished last – having wasted her time being tightly held off a slow pace. A rock and a hard place for Gold Cup winning jockey Felix Coetzee.
Marcus called Happy Archer a ‘real honey’ and said that she was extremely versatile, but probably ideally more effective over slightly shorter.
Bred by Racetree in Queensland Australia, the winner is by Dubawi out of the Jeune mare, So Tempted. Dubawi is a son of Dubai Millenium who has produced Group winners from 1000m to 2800m.
A winner of 7 races with 7 places from 22 starts for career earnings of R1 195 050, Happy Archer is a dual Gr1 winner and blossoms at Greyville during the Champions Season.
Happy Archer was the middle leg of a brilliant Sean Tarry hat-trick on the afternoon.
She is relatively lightly raced and has plenty of racing left yet, but will make a superb broodmare when that time comes. And few who watched this race will forget her name and how she rose from the ashes.
A tribute to a great jockey but don’t underestimate this beauty’s rock-solid character.
Gold Bracelet (SAf-G2) (7/28)
Greyville, South Africa, July 28, R200.000, 2000m, turf, good, 2.04.22 (CR 1.59.60).
HAPPY ARCHER (AUS), 60.0, ch f 4, Dubawi (IRE) – So Tempted (AUS) by Jeune (GB). Owner J S Nestadt, L M Nestadt, D M Nathan & S M Nathan; breeder Racetree (AUS); trainer S G Tarry; jockey A Marcus (R125.000)
Checcetti (SAF), 60.0, b f 4, Kahal (GB) – Dancer’s Choice (SAF) by Royal Prerogative (SAF)
Frequent Flyer (SAF), 60.0, b f 4, Silvano (GER) – Fov’s Fancy (SAF) by Foveros (GB)
Margins: nose, 1 1/2, 3/4
Also ran: Keep On Dreaming (SAF) 60.0, Europe To Africa (AUS) 58.5, Beloved Betty (SAF) 58.5