The R1 million Grand Parade Gr1 Cape Guineas run at Kenilworth on a windswept Saturday produced a classic finish and was a race of firsts in more ways than one. Jockey Bernard Fayd’herbe produced the Sail From Seattle colt Elusive Gold with a sustained burst to down his stablemate and the popular public choice, Captain America, in the final strides.
The race was billed as one of the great contests of the year, and lived up to all the expectations, producing a thrilling finish.
With a field boasting a nationally representative depth of talent out of the top drawer, the betting interest centred around the local hopes Captain America and Red Ray, with the visiting contingent of the only previous Gr1 winner Forest Indigo, and the Graham Beck Stakes winner Whistle Stop, also attracting plenty of support.
Ironically the demonstrated ability and hype surrounding the top four runners had probably scared off a few less hopeful sorts who shied away from the R11 400 entrance fee. The eventual winner was really quite lucky to have cracked a berth, if one considers that he jumped with a merit rating of 79!
But horses make fools of us every day, and Elusive Gold made his 28 to 1 price tag look like serious value as he stormed through to a sensational win.
The race was run at a good clip as Strongman led Red Ray and Captain America, with Whistle Stop in fourth. The field was well spread out, with about 14 lengths covering first to last.
Into the home run, Elusive Gold turned with only four runners behind him, but was going very well, with a clear run his only consideration.
The keen as mustard Strongman continued with his distinctive low head carriage as he lead into the straight, but faded at the 400m, as Red Ray surged into the lead off the rail, closely followed by Captain America.
With Red Ray running out of steam and shortening his stride, Captain America nabbed the lead inside the 200m marker, and looked a winner. But Bernard Fayd’herbe was riding for his life wide out.
Elusive Gold made up eight lengths from the 300m as he got up to catch a by then legless Captain America, to win by a short head in a time of 98,89 secs.
It was a great effort by Captain America in the circumstances. Besides casting a shoe in running, the Stipes reported that : ‘Leaving the 1200m CAPTAIN AMERICA (G Hatt) had to steady off the heels of RED RAY (A Marcus), which shifted inwards when not quite clear. Thereafter CAPTAIN AMERICA (G Hatt) commenced to over race. Jockey A Marcus (RED RAY) appeared before the Board and was advised to ensure he is sufficiently clear of other runners before he shifts ground in future.’
Bernard Fayd’herbe picked up a seven day suspension for whip abuse on the winner.
Red Ray was under a length off the winner in third, with Forest Indigo seemingly caught out by a wide draw and only managing fourth.
The riding tactics adopted on Red Ray may come under scruitiny by our grandstand jockeys. He was ridden handily and had nothing to come. Would he have gone closer, ridden with more restraint? He could well have limitations past 1400m. Joey Ramsden’s blog will make for interesting reading this week.
Dean Kannemeyer’s Power King ran on steadily for fifth, with his stablemate Roman Manner staying on in sixth from the 12 draw.
The rest were well beaten.
Whistle Stop (ninth and 5,45 lengths) and De Kock (twelfth and 8,15 lengths) were somewhat disappointing and never threatened.
Jockey Bernard Fayd’herbe, who won the Guineas in 2010 on Solo Traveller for Justin Snaith, said afterwards that the race had panned out just as he had read it:
“I felt that Captain America and Red Ray would be up there and the horses to beat. As Elusive Gold didn’t have the initial gate speed I let him relax and landed up tracking another serious contender in Forest Indigo. I was watching Kevin Shea (Forest Indigo) closely, but in the straight it was apparent that he wasn’t going like a winner. I switched Elusive Gold out and always had the feeling that I would catch the leaders. Well done to the whole team. It is always good to win a Gr1 race and we will hear plenty about this horse,” said Fayd’herbe.
Trainer Brett Crawford, on the memorable occasion of his first Guineas winner, said that the top two finish was ‘phenomenal for the yard’.
“We cannot take anything away from the winner . He is a really smart horse and he will be moving on to greener pastures one of these days. Captain America was gallant in defeat and I am so proud of my horses. To win the Guineas is a big day in a trainer’s life,” he said.
Breeder Ashley Parker of Ascot Stud, who flew in for the race from the Eastern Cape with Tony Millard, who represented the Hong Kong based owner Mr C W Hui, was understandably ecstatic.
“The first Gr1 winner for our Gone West stallion Sail From Seattle is a great dream and that is the wonderful thing about breeding. Sometimes the plan comes together. We bought Sail From Seattle as we thought he was the right stallion for our Al Mufti mares. I am really very happy and I don’t know if that plane is taking off in an hour,” he laughed.
Elusive Gold is from the first crop of 24 Sail From Seattle foals. He is out of the twice winning Al Mufti mare, Circle Of Gold. This is a cracking good family, and the blood and big race performance indicates that Elusive Gold could well be a Derby horse.
His dam Circle Of Gold won twice from 1600m to 1800m, and was placed 6 times. She is a full sister to Capture The Wind and a half sister to former ARCSA Horse Of The Year Enchanted Garden, the granddam of the top class Dog Wood.
This was Elusive Gold’s third win from just five starts. It was also his third straight win over the Kenilworth mile.
He cost R425 000 on the 2012 National Yearling Sale and took his earnings with this big win to R705 175.
He could be another top class Bloodstock South Africa billboard on the world stage in time to come.
________________Gr1 Cape Guineas (SAf-Gr1) Kenilworth, South Africa, December 21, R1 million, 1600m, turf, good, 1.38.89 1 – ELUSIVE GOLD (SAF), 58.0, b c 3, Sail From Seattle (USA) – Circle Of Gold (SAF) by Al Mufti (USA). Owner Mr C W Hui; breeder Ascot Stud; trainer BJ Crawford; jockey B Fayd’herbe 2 – Captain America (SAF), 58.0, b c 3, Captain Al (SAF) – Requista (SAF) by Fort Wood (USA) 3 – Red Ray (SAF), 58.0, b c 3, Western Winter (USA) – Nacarat (SAF) by Pas De Quoi (SAF) Margins: sh hd, ¾, ½