Mike De Kock produced the lightly raced son of Mogok, Meadow Magic in fine trim to win the delayed running of the 2012 R600 000 Gr2 Emerald Cup last Thursday. Running in the familiar all royal blue silks of former SA Jockey Club Chairman Larry Nestadt, the gelding showed first class ability under replacement rider Anton Marcus, who rode his usual superbly well-judged race.
Meadow Magic is the horse that was denied a run due to a red-tape technicality in the R1 million KZN Breeders’ Mile on 1 July 2012. His connections were known to have been seriously disappointed at the time, but this well-deserved win would no doubt have gone some way to healing those wounds.
And the manner of the gelding’s win on this surface, together with his past record, would suggest that the turf’s temporary loss is sand racing’s gain. Meadow Magic has now run just four times on the sand for 3 wins and a second place – when narrowly beaten by the outstanding Mr Tobin.
Saturday’s hailstorm played ducks and drakes with the final field, and after Joey Ramsden left town with Marcus’ original ride, Cape visitor In A Rush, the champion jockey switched allegiances without hesitation to replace Anthony Delpech on Meadow Magic. And while the Ramsden horse would have jumped at 15, the De Kock runner had the advantage of a 2 stall-gate. Marcus labelled this advantage of ‘paramount importance’, and he dictated matters from a good break.
Prime Mover was the only horse on Meadow Magic’s inside, and he went head to head with him for the first 1000m until Marcus drifted his mount out to the middle of the home stretch and asked for a serious effort. The Bass runners Captain’s Secret and Kiss Again were always thereabouts, with Beacon Flare and Astro News further back.
For a horrifying few strides at the 300m marker, time stood still as Marcus looked to have gone too early with Across The Ice and Captain’s Secret looming dangerously down the inside. But it was a false alarm as the guy we call Superman turned on the jets and kept his mount at it and finding reserves from deep down.
Sean Veale got Beacon Flare into stride in the final 50m and the son of Spectrum(his offspring are doing so well on the sand!) flew to get within 0,25 lengths of the winner. He won’t be long in winning on this course. On-course tipster, Tellytrack’s Dave Mollet was trumping the merits of Weiho Marwing’s gelding in the pre-race formalities, and the veteran journalist was spot-on.The exacta with the favourite paid a healthy R31-30, so the Molly followers no doubt got the lot.
Captain’s Secret stayed on a little one-paced for third just a half-length behind the second horse. The Bass gelding had looked threatening with 200m to go, while August Stakes winner Across The Ice looked to have had every chance and was perfectly ridden, but faded late into fourth.
The fancied Mr Tobin was ridden by replacement rider S’Manga Khumalo in Gavin Lerena’s absence, and ran wide into the straight from his 10 draw. He never got into the race to finish some 5,50 lengths off in fifth position. But don’t write him off just yet.
Assistant trainer Matthew De Kock was on hand to attend to the formalities on behalf of his famous Dad, and indicated that the stable had not considered the winner a ‘good thing.’
Meadow Magic was bred by Scott Brothers from their top stallion Mogok out of the twice winning Shoe Danzig mare, Meadow Rhumba.
He is a winner of 6 (3 apiece on turf and sand) of his 15 starts with 6 places to round off an exemplary record that has banked his connections R 744 525. It was a first winner in Africa’s big sand duel for Marcus and a second for De Kock after Hilti won it in 2005.
It seems pointless wasting time campaigning on turf with such a capable sand horse, and one hopes that Meadow Magic bucks the gloomy trend of past Emerald winners, who history shows usually go downhill from hereon in.