The Gary Alexander trained stayer The Elmo Effect sprang a surprise when he finished with a sustained run to cut down Arctica and win the R150 000 Listed Drum Star Handicap at Turffontein on Saturday.
It was a sentimental victory for Alexander, who trained the feisty Gr1 galloper Drum Star, in whose honour the 1800m feature is named, to his 12 wins – even though the lesser fancied one of the stable coupling came up.
The ten strong handicap always looked a tricky contest on paper, and even though he featured prominently in the SP ratings, The Elmo Effect was generally thought to be having a prep run over a distance short of his best, and started at 50-1.
But with a few ready to lead, a true run race played into his hands.
Van Der Merwe had The Elmo Effect relaxed in midfield as regular pacemaker Stonehenge led Arctica and Mans Inn for home.
At the 400m, S’manga Khumalo gave Arctica his head and the son of Captain Al dashed past Stonehenge – but started hanging out badly.
At the 300m, he crossed in front of Romany Prince, who was making what looked to be a dangerous run.
All the while, The Elmo Effect was winding up and enjoying the pressure, he came forward down the inside to challenge – with JP van der Merwe switching whip hands from left to right, and sensibly pushing with his hands, despite the line looming fast, and the danger of the horse down the outside.
With Arctica having wasted lengths and caused some havoc, The Elmo Effect came charging down the inside under an inspired ride to win by 0,80 lengths. The winning time was a decent 109,55 secs
The fancied Master Switch came from some lengths off and finished well after his post Summer Cup break of 16 weeks, to shade Romany Prince and capture third cheque.
Last year’s winner Romany Prince was a bit unlucky late behind Arctica – but was not disgraced with his very honest 2,05 length fourth.
The Sean Tarry runner Samurai Blade faded late to run just over 6 lengths off – while the winner’s 7 to 2 stablemate Top Shot never showed and ran almost ten lengths behind.
A winner of 5 races with 11 places from 30 starts, The Elmo Effect took his earnings to R488 375 with this win and is bound to enjoy the more testing staying features that lie ahead.
The Elmo Effect was a R225 000 2013 Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale graduate.
Bred by Summerhill Stud, he is a son of Admire Main out of the one-time winning Northern Guest mare, Dream Starling. She has produced a host of winners, and versatility is the name of her game!