No official explanation has yet been offered for the shocking run of 1-6 favourite Dash And Excel at Clairwood this afternoon. The Australian-bred Tarry filly finished fifth of seven runners in a rather ordinary looking maiden plate.
It was a memorable afternoon for young apprentice Craig Zackey, who rode his first winner on Commander Cat for Tony Rivalland, but it was a forgettable one too for backers of the red-hot favourite, Dash And Excel.
The 17 year old Zackey was remarkably confident of his fourth race winning effort as he saluted on the line – with his far more experienced colleague Keagan De Melo throwing the kitchen sink at his mount, Special Henny, down the outside of him.
For backers of Special Henny, who had been claimed from 8-1 to 11-2, Zackey’s joy was not shared, and they had to be content with second place today.
The nine-strong lowly merit-rated 1200m Apprentice Handicap was always going to be a quick affair and Bryan Claasen allowed the speedy King’s Jet to streak clear after Dennis Drier’s Second Edition had blown his chances at the gate. At the 250m marker Commander Cat and Special Henny made a dash for the line.
Zackey is currently in his second year and was having only his 16th ride. He lists fellow jockeys Anthony Delpech and Gavin Lerena as his heroes, and enjoys soccer, swimming, partying and chilling with friends, outside of racing. He says that the best thing about being a jockey is that ‘one learns something new every day.’ He looks a promising young rider and one hopes that he keeps his feet on the ground.
Tellytrack announced hours after the shocking run of Dash And Excel that KZN Stipes Chairman Sean Parker would be asking the Vet to check and report any abnormalities. That is cold comfort for punters who had to watch the moderate Doowaley filly Dawn Eclipse, having her fifteenth start, beat the favourite by 6,25 lengths. Dash And Excel had run an excellent third on debut a week ago over the course and distance.
After Robin Muir’s very consistent Cataloochee 4yo King Neptune had easily won the second race, Dennis Drier trained his and Sean Cormack’s double, as the experienced jockey rode a cracker from the front of the sixth race, a Graduation Plate over 1800m. In a rather weak there was no pace as Discordia led at a relaxing stretch and she quickened halfway down the middle of the straight to win by 3,25 lengths at 9-1. She had been unlucky when showing pace at her post-maiden effort as her saddle had slipped.
The 17-10 favourite Jet Set Model completed the dismal afternoon for an out-of-sorts Sean Tarry yard, by plodding into second.
Alec Laird and jockey Stuart Randolph sealed the last double on the card, courtesy of two easy and impressive 4yo winners.
The grey Go Deputy gelding Pessoa recorded a third career win from ten outings when he won the MR 81 Handicap run over 1450m after tracking the pacemaking Chicago Fire all the way around and then pouncing late. It was also the consistent fellow’s second straight win and he looks worth following.
The Laird-Randolph combo rounded off the day with the R800 000 Nutfield Stud-bred National Sale graduate Saratoga Magic winning the Maiden Plate over 1600m in great style. Owned by Hugo Hattingh’s Tripple H Trust, the winner has earned at 6 of his 8 starts, and should be a better horse over ground – judging on his breeding by Fort Wood out of a Coastal mare.