The Bass equine family has played a major role in Western Cape racing over the past forty years and the powerful stable was to the fore in more ways than one on Monday at Durbanville. Besides three minor race winners on the afternoon, they also sent out the winner of the R115 000 Listed Settlers Trophy.
The Heritage Day, or Braai Day as it is known commercially, public holiday produced a glorious sunny afternoon in the Cape after a weekend of wind and rain. A festive spirit prevailed at the country course as some competitive racing entertained the happy holiday crowd. And the Mike Bass Racing stable put the cherry on top, by winning the final four races on the afternoon.
Bernard Fayd’Herbe rode the three minor race winners, but it was left to MJ Byleveld to hog the limelight in the feature event, with what could be termed a particularly creative riding display from the front on eventual winner Jeppe’s Reef. Byleveld took the 5yo gelding out to dictate matters from the jump and he was never headed. Evidence of the dictatorial pace was the fact that the winner’s time was close on seven seconds outside Thunderbird’s course record!
After the withdrawal of the old man Grafton Street, Jeppe’s Reef led his seven opponents at a canter from the lightly weighted Gianduja, with Another Giant and Blake further back. The favourite Putney Flyer was about six lengths off the leader just in front of Why Worry, Caymen Island and Vengence.
Going into far turn Byleveld gave Jeppe’s Reef some more rein as he speeded things up a bit and the pair went three lengths clear turning into the home straight.
With Jeppe’s Reef having plenty of juice left in the tank, he galloped on relentlessly with whips flailing behind him. Going into the final 250m it was clear that they had been caught flat-footed and nothing had the energy to catch the leader. He won by 1,25 lengths in a time of 158,63 secs. The course record is recorded according to our information at 151,80 secs.
The 5-2 favourite Putney Flyer stayed on best to grab second cheque 1,25 lengths behind. Gianduja ran his usual game race in third, while Why Worry finished with a non-threatening rattle to head Blake for fourth.
The class horse of the race and 3-1 second favourite Blake was given every chance by Karl Neisius and after being positioned in midfield for much of the race, his welter impost told and he plodded into fifth. The slow pace of the race would not have suited him either and he will come on with this run.
Jeppe’s Reef was bred by Drakenstein Stud, in whose silks he races. He is by Jallad out of the high-class staying mare Studio Fifty Four, by Badger Land. The six-time winner was trained by Mike Airey in her racing days and won the Gr2 Gold Circle Oaks run over 2400m in 2004.
Jeppe’s Reef is a winner of 4 of his 27 races with 11 places for stake earnings of R318 245.
The Drakenstein Stud winner certainly (in hindsight anyway) represented some value at 4-1 and had run a cracker in the Gr1 Gold Cup on Super Saturday, when just 3,10 lengths behind In Writing. That effort coupled with his excellent sharpener over 1400m a week ago would have given the astute punter some indication of the fact that he was a big runner in this race.He also met Blake on 2,5 kg better terms than their clash in South Africa’s premier staying race, and obviously stripped fitter than the Kannemeyer horse.
Time will reveal whether Jeppe’s Reef is able to maintain this form into the summer season, and his connections will no doubt concede that things really went his way today.
But is that not how races are won and lost?