Few saw the oncoming train! Two seasoned Capetonians in trainer Piet Steyn and jockey Fareed Anthony teamed up to shake the earth at Durbanville last Saturday, courtesy of the 35-1 outsider Super Elegant’s dramatic last gasp win in the R150 000 Gr3 Diana Stakes.
The 1400m filles feature always had an open look to it, but the thought of the biggest outsider in the race as a likely winner could hardly have been at the forefront of form studiers’ minds on Saturday morning.
Super Elegant had after all last won a race on 17 December 2011 when beating a filly called Beach Beauty in the Gr3 Victress Stakes over 1800m at Kenilworth.
Her recent formline had hardly been encouraging, but the better going and minor equipment tweaks was the Steyn masterstroke that made all the difference.
On Saturday she was over her stomach problems that had also no doubt contributed to her below-par performances, the blinkers were fitted as well as a new bit to ensure her tongue was comfortable – and the rest is now history, as they say.
We are puzzled as to why the Durbanville track management persist with the tight bend that can only exacerbate the impact of the barrier draw, and one should not overlook the fact that we are talking Group feature races and impacts on careers and stud books with these performances. This is the chocolate cake, not the bread and butter fare that can be dished up on paper plates!
The 3yo Var flyer Valdivia made the pace a solid one, leading Madame Rooney, who was racing wide, and the keen Comtesse Dubois into the straight.
Valdivia continued to roll as Ocean’s Swift and Madame Rooney battled on behind with Comtesse Dubois being switched from her rails position to challenge.
At the 300m marker Wayne Agrella had moved Comtesse Dubois into the clear and the Snaith’s 4yo looked to have the race in the bag as she strode clear. Fareed Anthony had switched Super Elegant out for a clear run, and the Daylami filly chased Comtesse Dubois for what looked like a guaranteed second cheque.
But miraculously in the final five strides, Anthony pulled alongside and casually extricated a stretch out of the Steyn runner, that was to mean the very substantial difference between winning and losing.
Super Elegant won by a head in a time of 86,06secs.
Comtesse Dubois ran an absolutely storming race to stay on for second, and, as we have observed, looked a winner everywhere but the line. She will have pleased her connections that she at least appears to have scope for more than just sprinting, and her sizzling summer aspirations appear quite exciting.
The classy Valdivia had every chance but really nothing more to offer in the closing stages. She finished 2,35 lengths off in third. And unlike Comtesse Dubois, she may well be a better filly when confined to the sprint track.
Ocean’s Swift finished in fourth and 2,75 lengths behind. She had every chance and was beaten fairly and squarely by better fillies on the day.
Brett Crawford would have been pleased with Thunder Dance’s 2,85 lengths finish. Jumping from the worst of the draw, she was dropped out by Karis Teetan and ran on smartly. She will be a different proposition next time out over 200m further, and is one to keep an eye on.
Neil Bruss’ former Zimbabwean champion Control Freak briefly flattered, but fell away to finish 3,25 lengths behind. She was poorly drawn and in dire need of the outing. She certainly warrants another chance.
Madame Rooney showed pace but from her 14 draw it was always going to be very difficult. She finished 13,85 lengths behind to run stone last. That sort of experience can only knock confidence and break a gallant filly’s heart.
A R120 000 National 2yo sale graduate bred by D Cohen & Sons, the winner races in the cerise and green silked partnership of Betts Thomson and her trainer, Piet Steyn.
She was recording her 4th win with 5 places from her 20 starts for stake earnings of R369 230.
Super Elegant is a daughter of Doyoun stallion Daylami, out of the seven-time winning Model Man mare, Pacific Gem.
Her sire stood at Gilltown Stud in Ireland, before being sold to Riethuiskraal Stud, where he stood from 2006 to 2010.
Super Elegant is by far and away the best Daylami to be produced in South Africa and his solitary stakes winner.
She was his first stakes winner here when the winning the Gr3 Victress Stakes in 2011.
As for the grey Daylami, he returned to Ireland in 2010 to join Coolagown Stud, near Fermoy, County Cork.
Daylami has sired the winners of more than four hundred races. The best of his progeny to date has been Grey Swallow, winner of the 2004 Irish Derby and 2005 Tattersalls Gold Cup.
But despite that, he will always be remembered more as a top racehorse than a great sire.
In the International Classification (the forerunner of the World Thoroughbred Racehorse Rankings), for 1999 Daylami was rated the best horse in the world, equal to Montjeu on a rating of 135.
In January 2000, Daylami was awarded the titles of Horse of the Year and Top Older Horse at the Cartier Racing Awards. In the same month he was named American Champion Male Turf Horse at the Eclipse Awards and finished runner up to Charismatic in the vote for American Horse of the Year, despite having run only once in the United States in the qualifying period.
Daylami earned his owners a $1,000,000 prize as the winner of the inaugural World Series Racing Championship, a competition in which points were awarded for performances in nine major international middle distance races. Daylami was given a Timeform rating of 138, making him the equal of Nijinsky and Cigar.
If Super Elegant genuinely maintains this level of performance and some of that spark which saw her beating Beach Beauty last year, then it could still be a summer of fun and games for her connections with plenty on offer in the next three months.
Diana S. (SAf-G3) (10/20)
Durbanville, South Africa, October 20, R150.000, 1400m, turf, soft, 1.26.06 (CR ).
SUPER ELEGANT (SAF), 60.0, b f 4, Daylami (IRE) – Pacific Gem (SAF) by Model Man (SAF). Owner ELP Steyn & EC Thomson; breeder D Cohen & Sons; trainer ELP Steyn; jockey F Anthony (R93.750)
Comtesse duBois (SAF), 60.0, b f 4, Count duBois (GB) – Katherine (SAF) by Rakeen (USA)
Valdivia (SAF), 53.5, ch f 3, Var (USA) – River Divine (USA) by Irish River (USA)
Margins: sh hd, 2¼, ½
Also ran: Ocean’s Swift (SAF) 60.0, Thunder Dance (SAF) 60.0, Control Freak (SAF) 60.0, Northern Heritage () 60.0, Beloved Betty (SAF) 60.0, Trip Poker (SAF) 53.5, Victory Express (SAF) 53.5, Blouberg Beach (SAF) 60.0, Madame Rooney (SAF) 60.0