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Killer Tomato – Pomodoro

Gr3 Tony Ruffel Stakes


Pomodoro – whose name means nothing more glamorous than “tomato” in Italian – looks like a force to reckon with in the upcoming Gauteng Triple Crown races.  Despite seemingly being rejected by stable jockey Robbie Fradd in favour of Heavy Metal, Pomodoro romped to an impressive success in the Tony Ruffel Stakes over 1450m around the Turffontein inner course on Saturday, writes MATTHEW LIPS.

Ultimately it was Chad Little standing in for the indisposed Weichong Marwing who benefitted from Fradd’s incorrect choice of mounts (assuming Robbie actually had the choice, because in reality it doesn’t always work that way).

Brooks-Club was having his first start since being gelded and was heavily supported from an ante-post price of 7/1 to start as the 33/10 favourite in a field of 12 for this conditions race for three-year-olds.  Pomodoro’s backers didn’t allow themselves to be put off by the riding arrangements and supported the colt into 4/1 joint second favourite with stable companion Heavy Metal.  Governor General came here on the back of a facile success in a very low-key Scottsville handicap and was the 5/1 fourth favourite, but his stable companion Royal Ridge didn’t strike too many chords with punters and drifted to start at 9/1 from an ante-post 11/2.

Tony’s Tipple quickly worked his way to the head of affairs and set a decent pace ahead of Royal Ridge, who came across from the widest draw to race handy ahead of Tandragee, Americano, and Pomodoro.  Heavy Metal and Governor General were content to race quite some way from the early action, with Brooks-Club not travelling at all well for much of the contest and finding himself a good way from the leader turning for home.  Tony’s Tipple soon began to weaken, leaving Tandragee to lead briefly as the challengers started to swoop from behind.

Nothing, though, could live with Pomodoro, who quickened really well under his substitute jockey to stretch clear in the closing stages and win by 2.25 lengths from Governor General, who ran on stoutly to edge the gallant Tandragee out of second place right on the wire.  Heavy Metal took a hefty bump around 250m out before finishing about 1.5 lengths further away in fourth.  It was reported by the veterinary surgeon afterwards that he was not striding out freely, so all things considered he didn’t run badly to finish where he did, but the son of Silvano was taken all the way to Cape Town for the Gr 1 Guineas in December and must presumably show more than this back home.

Brooks-Club eventually stayed on late to finish fifth, 4.50 lengths behind the winner.  He probably will come on from this run, but it was a disappointing display from a horse that had an identical chance to Pomodoro on merit ratings and weights.  He looked to be a good deal more fancied than his third-placed stable companion  Tandragee, but never looked like taking a hand in the outcome and for a long way seemed destined to fare a good deal worse than he eventually did.

Pomodoro still has something to find against the very best of his age after being beaten 4.5 lengths into fourth place in the Gr 2 Dingaans won by Silver Flyer last November and will need to have improved plenty from that to win any of the Triple Crown races.  Still, he was an impressive winner here over a distance which may be short of his absolute best, and he is well above average and is one of several smart three-year-olds in the Sean Tarry yard.  Whiteline Fever (absent here) could yet prove to be the best of the stable’s sophomores this Gauteng Feature season, but Pomodoro may not be very far behind at all.

Pomodoro is a son of Jet Master.  He is the sixth foal, fifth winner and third Stakes winner (by three different sires)m produced from Northern Guest mare Golden Apple, who won four races up to 1700m including the Gr 2 Fillies Guineas at long-since-departed Gosforth Park.  He was bred by Chris van Niekerk, who went to R325 000 to buy him back at the 2010 National Yearling Sale, and has won four times from only six starts for earnings of R325 500.


Tony Ruffel S. (SAf-G3) (2/4)
Turffontein, South Africa, February 4, R200.000, 1450m, turf, good, 1.26.58 (CR 1.25.80).
POMODORO (SAF), 58.0, b c 3, Jet Master (SAF) – Golden Apple (SAF) by Northern Guest. Owner & breeder C J H Van Niekerk (SAF); trainer S G Tarry; jockey C Little
Governor General (SAF), 55.5, b c 3, Strike Smartly (CAN) – Fuel The Fire (SAF) by Russian Revival
Tandragee (SAF), 57.5, ch c 3, Bezrin – Mysterious Land (SAF) by Badger Land
Margins: 2¼, nose, 1¼
Also ran: Heavy Metal (SAF) 55.5, Brooks-Club (SAF) 55.5, Royal Ridge (SAF) 55.5, The Duke (SAF) 55.5, E-Jet (SAF) 55.5, Americano (SAF) 55.5, Tony’s Tipple (SAF) 55.5, Sidestep (SAF) 55.5, Eurosilver (SAF) 55.5