Brett Crawford’s Whisky Baron grabbed himself the title of the 2017 Sun Met super unknown with a dazzling performance to win the R400 000 Gr2 Peninsula Handicap at Kenilworth on Saturday.
While Whisky Baron has had a relatively ‘soft’ path into the Sun Met and Saturday’s feature was a handicap, the 4yo can do little more than win and this he has done with authority after gelding – the Peninsula being his fourth consecutive success – and he remains unbeaten this term.
He has galloped his way into the top echelon of the Sun Met betting.
Going off a 16-10 favourite, the Australian bred son of Manhattan Rain showed character and resilience after being badly bumped halfway through the 1800m Peninsula Handicap.
He recovered smartly and moved away like a horse ready to take on the big guns to beat the pacesetting Milton by 2 lengths in 1 time of 110,6 secs.
He came back with a cut on his chest, but that is unlikely to be a hindrance factor in his prep for 28 January.
It is worth noting that the time set by Whisky Baron was 1,56 secs faster than that set by champion filly and likely Met opponent Bela-Bela, who won Saturday’s Gr1 Paddock Stakes, and 2,47 secs faster than the progressive Horizon, who won the Gr3 Politician Stakes.
Trainer Brett Crawford expressed the yard’s excitement about the Met and jockey Greg Cheyne said, ‘we have a date in three weeks!’
The consistent 5yo Milton clung on for second 0,40 lengths ahead of Gr1 Investec Cape Derby winner It’s My Turn, who caused some interference after pulling hard in running.
Gr2 Premier Trophy winner Icy Trail ran no kind of race, finishing seventh and 3,75 lengths back, after having to steady for a number of strides in the wake of the It’s My Turn roll around.
St Tropez ran a 5,70 length eleventh and he is best left alone as a punting proposition.
A $50,000 Inglis Easter purchase for C Roscoe/ J Ramsden from the Arrowfield Stud draft, Whisky Baron became the ninth stakes winner for Redoute’s Choice half-brother Manhattan Rain.
He is the only Black Type horse among four winners out of the unraced Sinndar mare, Tazkara (Fr), who has returned to France after producing five foals in Australia.
Whisky Baron has now won 5 races in the Craig and Ross Kieswetter silks with 7 places from 12 starts for stakes of R596 375.
The last Peninsula Handicap winner to pull off the big one was Vaughan Marshall’s Hill Fifty Four, who won the Met in 2014 under a superb Anton Marcus ride.
With a name like his, Whisky Baron would be quite an ironic winner in the very first renewal after the departure of J&B!
Anton Marcus mentioned his name in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate winning interview on Saturday as a Sun Met danger.
Whisky Baron will carry 2,5kgs less than Legal Eagle and 2kgs less than Marinaresco.
We look forward to a fascinating contest on 28 January!
Gr2 Peninsula Handicap (SAf-Gr2)
Kenilworth, South Africa, January 7, R400k, 1800m, turf, good, 1.50.06
1 – WHISKY BARON (AUS), 59.0, b g 4, Manhattan Rain (AUS) – Tazkara (FR) by Sinndar (IRE). Owner Messrs C & R Kieswetter; Breeder bred in Australia; trainer BJ Crawford; jockey G Cheyne
2 – Milton (SAF), 57.5, ch g 5, Lateral (GB) – Missing No More (USA) by Unaccounted For
3 – It’s My Turn (SAF), 60.0, b g 4, Dynasty (SAF) – Jallad’s Queen (SAF) by Jallad (USA)
Margins: 2.00, 0.40, 0.50