The smart 5yo mare Formation captured her own little slice of history when she became the first stakes winner for National Assembly stallion Sarge. She pulverized her opposition to win the R150 000 Listed Emerald Fillies Handicap run over 1200m at the Vaal on Saturday.
Always in command and well in control from her rails draw position, Formation streaked clear to a 7,25 length win to provide jockey Gavin Lerena with one of his easiest commissions this season.
Elated winning owner-trainer-breeder St John Gray, who seldom lets a major sand race-day pass without a win, attributed the win tongue-in-cheek to the rather ambiguous ‘G-factor’. Could that be Gray, Gavin or Green? Who knows, but it worked whatever it was. He said that he was thrilled and was most complimentary, calling Lerena a ‘consummate horseman’.
It was the young jockey’s first race-ride on her and he did everything right. For those racegoers with a medium-term memory, this is the same filly that had jockey Fanie Chambers in the spotlight in March this year, when Formation was ridden in a manner which raised the ire in certain quarters. She finished third as a 15-10 favourite there to Pimp My Ride over 1800m. She is obviously sound, as she has run eight times in the six months since then.
Saturday’s feature win was never in doubt for the 22-10 favourite, who was well warmed up by Lerena prior to the start. She jumped well and was chased by Shattered Image, Ugly Betty, Simply Blue and Pacific Destiny.
Formation led into the straight and simply streaked clear and increaded her advantage as Shattered Image and Legal Account stayed on best for the minor cheques. The winner clocked a time of 89,32secs.
While she won by over 7 lengths, the field was well spread with 33,25 lengths covering first to the last-placed Pacific Destiny. Gavin Van Zyl’s fancied Cherry On The Cake was the only real disappointment, when fading out to 15,75 lengths off. This run may just have come too soon on the heels of her last outing.
The Emerald Fillies Handicap was a triumph for horseracing’s retired legal eagle, St John Gray.
Formation was bred by Gray’s Graystone Stud and is trained and owned in the white and green silks. Gray also trained her sire Sarge. Formation hails from his third crop. Besides the stakes placed six-time winning Shuffles from Sarge’s first crop, Formation is by far her sire’s top horse to date.
A well-bred but unremarkable racehorse, who only won twice over 1200m, Sarge has not had a lot of opportunity at stud with only twenty runners in his first five seasons. He is the property of a syndicate and stands at David Southey’s Southford Stud for a fee of R8000.
Formation is out of the very smart five-time winner, Polonaise (by Centenary) and is an out-and-out sand specialist, having clocked up all her wins on the sand.
Although lightly raced and showing plenty of enthusiasm for her racing, she is a lovely broodmare prospect and took her career stake earnings total R362 700. She was registering her fifth win and sixth place from only fourteen starts.