A shock defeat by two brilliant female sprinters marred the highly anticipated fairytale farewell performance of the outstanding What A Winter at Clairwood on Saturday. Captain Al’s high quality 3yo daughter All Is Secret came out in a galloping mood to win the R750 000 Gr1 The Mercury Sprint in fine style.
The grey flyer held off Mike De Kock’s Welwitschia, and in so doing torpedoed the script of a dream ending to the story of a giant of the turf.
For punters the unlikely defeat was proof again of the reality of the flesh and blood maxim. They are horses, not machines. We never really learn!
Mike Bass’ terrific speed master What A Winter certainly looked to have his thirteen opponents cold on paper. He started at 3 to 10 and was the choice of every man and his dog.
But the brilliance that has been the hallmark of the broader part of his glittering career, just didn’t materialise today.
From his outermost draw the champion was out quickly but settled nicely as All Is Secret blitzed the trail out front.
The 14 to 1 chance All Is Secret continued to gallop through the 400m,and with Welwitschia producing her late burst, Bernard Fayd’herbe got to work frantically on What A Winter.
The customary kick from the star was not there and with the grey not stopping out front, the horrifying reality struck home that the champion was on the canvas.
In a very smart display, All Is Secret continued to roll under MJ Byleveld tp beat Welwitschia by 1,25 lengths in a time of 69 secs. Vaughan Marshall had her prepped to the minute.
What A Winter ran a respectable third, with Jackson finishing a creditable 3,35 length fourth place.
The BBP Syndicate-bred winner is by Captain Al out of the top-class six-time winning Goldkeeper mare Secret Of Victoria, who was also trained by Marshall.
She went through the National Yearling Sale ring an R800 000 purchase.
All Is Secret has run 12 times for 6 wins, which includes 3 Gr1’s, and 4 places for gross stake earnings of R1 495 380
We will not labour the point, but What A Winter patently did not produce his best today.
He will go straight into stallion duties at Drakenstein Stud in the magnificent Franschoek valley and is one of the most exciting and well performed home bred prospects to take up stud duties in a long time.
The son of thrice Champion Sire, Western Winter, is out of the Irish bred miler, Waseela. His dam in fact produced 9 to race, of which 8 were winners and 3 were stakes winners.
Waseela is by the spectacular Ahonoora ,one of the few sires ever to produce an Epsom Derby winner and the dam of an Epsom Derby winner – next dam by Horse of the Year and Derby winner Troy. He is from the family of Hyperion, Pharamond, Night Shift, Sickle, Hunter’s Moon, All Moonshine, to name a few.
The Equus Champion Sprinter and Equus Champion Older Male in 2012, he will stand for a fee of R20 000.
Every athlete is entitled to the odd off day. We are richer for having had the privilege of savouring his brilliance.
A rare pleasure indeed and he really owes us nothing.
Next stop. Drakenstein Stud.
For the terrific All Is Secret, the greater part of an exciting and rewarding career still lies ahead.
.Mercury Sprint (SAf-G1) (7/13) Clairwood, South Africa, July 13, R750.000, 1200m, turf, good, 69.00 1-ALL IS SECRET (SAF), 57.0, gr f 3, Captain Al (SAF) – Secret Of Victoria (SAF) by Goldkeeper (USA). Owner MJ Jooste & GM Miller; breeder BBP Syndicate; trainer VH Marshall; jockey M Byleveld (R468.750) 2-Welwitschia (GB), 57.5, b m 5, Oasis Dream (GB) – Maid For Romance (GB) by Pursuit Of Love (GB) 3-What A Winter (SAF), 60.0, b h 5, Western Winter (USA) – Waseela (IRE) by Ahonoora (GB) Margins: 1¼, sh hd, 2