George Bernard Shaw once said that ‘the golden rule is that there are no golden rules.’ Port Elizabeth champion trainer Gavin Smith broke all the rules and made most of the racing world swallow some pride, when he travelled the long road from Port Elizabeth with a horse who had never raced on the surface, to win Africa’s richest race on sand.
Francois Herholdt’s punch of the air as he guided the 5yo In A Rush across the line in front of a record breaking crowd of 10 400 at the Vaal on Saturday, to win the R600 000 Gr2 Emerald Cup, was characterised by a pall of silence that descended on a generally festive afternoon. Mouths hung open as In A Rush just found more, to win a cracker.
Alongside champions Jackson and Gimmethegreenlight, In A Rush has the distinction of being one of only a trio of thoroughbreds that have proven capable of lowering the colours of our dual Horse Of The Year, Variety Club, beyond 1200m.
On a day of firsts, he was also Smith’s first winner in the province. The former East Cape Champion Juvenile had ironically been robbed of a shot at the Emerald title in 2012, as a result of the inclement weather that plagued the big day last year.
His trainer at the time, Joey Ramsden, had little choice but to return home then after the race was postponed to the following Thursday.
There are some who may have wished that they had taken the generous odds when RA CEO Larry Wainstein pulled the 1 draw out of the hat on behalf of the absent connections, in the draw ceremony held in the Tellytrack studio, ten days previously.
In A Rush’s inclusion at the expense of the likes of, amongst others Potala Palace, was defended by Chief Handicapper, Roger Smith that evening, with some rationale and logic that may have drawn smirks from certain quarters.
The men in the grey suits will now feel vindicated. Until next time, anyway.
Saturday’s race went perfectly according to plan for the visitors.
In A Rush jumped well from his pole position, and was eased back by Francois Herholdt as Shattered Image and Magic Smoke showed the way in the stampede around the turn.
Into the straight In A Rush continued to lurk in the shadows hard against the steel, as they fanned out for the dash for home.
With plenty angling for a bite at the cake, Francois Herholdt gave the PE challenger his head at the 300m marker and he charged clear as the challenges came from all sides.
Into the final 100m, Pylon looked to have a shout, but In A Rush was not for the beating, and he continued with his superb effort and powered on to win by 0,75 lengths in a time of 89,01 secs.
He held South Africa’s sand champion Pylon to grab the R375 000 first cheque. In A Rush was receiving 7,5kgs from the gallant Pylon, while the ever present Uncle Tommy stayed on strongly for third.
The very fancied Here Comes Billy had every chance, but could only run fourth.
The disappointment of the race was Mike De Kock’s filly Tayba, who came home a dismal 33 lengths behind In A Rush. The Charles Laird trained Contador was tailed off last, and something looks to have gone amiss with the Gr1 Golden Horseshoe winner.
An elated winning jockey Fransie Herholdt said that his mount had done everything required of him. “It is a tricky track, but I knew that if he takes to it from the 1 draw, he would go well. He is a big burly horse and was always travelling well. He got a little tired at the end, which is hardly surprising,” he said with a broad smile.
Trainer Gavin Smith indicated that In A Rush had always worked well on the sand and said that everything fell into place when they drew well. He confirmed that his charge had travelled very well and that the plan had come together beautifully.
In A Rush was bred by Peter Choice, and is by Windrush out of the five time winning Chief Warden mare, Sweet Whisper.
He is the sixth foal and third winner produced from Chief Warden mare Sweet Whisper, who won five races up to 2000m, including the Listed Winter Oaks.
Still part-owned by breeder and transport magnate Peter Choice, In A Rush was acquired for R85 000 at the 2010 Cape Summer Yearling Sale.
This was In A Rush’s eighth career win from twenty three starts, for ten places and R941 825 in prize money.
Just goes to show that this game tames lions. Never take any opponent for granted.
His connections could yet have some fun with him on the Fairview polytrack!
.Gr2 Emerald Cup (SAf-Gr2) Vaal, South Africa, September 28, R600k, 1450m, sand, good, 1.29.01 IN A RUSH (SAF), 57.0, b g 5, Windrush (USA) – Sweet Whisper (SAF) by Chief Warden (SAF). Owner Messrs L G Adams, P G Choice, H M Gerber & G D Smith; breeder PG Choice; trainer GD Smith; jockey F Herholdt Pylon (SAF), 64.5, b g 5, Fort Wood (USA) – Golden Cell (SAF) by Goldkeeper (USA) Uncle Tommy (SAF), 63.0, ch g 6, Kahal (GB) – Cousin Linda (SAF) by Badger Land (USA) Margins: 0.75, 1.50, 1.00