One swallow doesn’t make a summer. Punters learnt the tough lesson of placing too much emphasis on one blot on the copybook as the smart Sail From Seattle gelding Tommy Gun was left to run wild at 16 to 1 when bolting home to score a terrific victory in the R1 million Gr2 Emerald Cup at the Vaal on Saturday.
It’s a funny fickle old racing thing. We get impressed easily and unimpressed just as easily.
And that is probably what blinkered the outlook for many when approaching what was thought to be the ‘strongest yet’ Emerald Cup field in the ten year history of Africa’s richest sand race.
Largely written off on Saturday, Tommy Gun was a winner of 5 of his ten starts and unbeaten on the Vaal sand when the astute Corne Spies travelled to Kimberley for a pipe-opener on 1 September after a five month break from racing.
The gelding started at prohibitive odds but was emphatically beaten by three locals that were famously ‘derogatively’ labelled by a Tellytrack presenter.
In the end it was a bit of a storm in a teacup but little did we know then that when the world was hurling outrage at the popular Shaheen Shaw that his ‘rats and mice’ quip had inadvertently thrown the spotlight on the ultimate winner of the 2014 Emerald Cup.
We still never quite found out why Tommy Gun ran below par that Manic Monday afternoon, although jockey Fanie Chambers suggested that he had not travelled as well as he could have.
But on Saturday the insults, the conspiracy theories and the brass tag was all forgotten as Tommy Gun tracked the leaders from his favourable draw and shot clear at the 400m, showing his true mettle and ability.
The winner started at 16 to 1 and clocked 89,94 secs for the 1450m.
It was race over far out and even though the gallant and super consistent Uncle Tommy fought on, he had no answers to the younger horse. The Hassen Adams owned Kahal gelding had to be content with second, three lengths back.
Killua Castle ran an improved race and cut many stragglers down in the final 300m as he found reserves of stamina to bank the third cheque.
Sean Tarry’s 7yo Across The Ice pipped a tired Jet Jamboree for fourth.
Winning jockey Fanie Chambers rode a peach of a race and said that he had opted for the ride because of the favourable draw and the fact that he could not do the weight on Anger originally.
“I thought I had a place chance but must say that we had our doubts. But he ran all the way to the line and I must thank all the connections and Corne (Spies) for the support.”
Spies has enjoyed an excellent season and was naturally over the moon. “Tommy Gun’s Kimberley run put a lot of people off. But his course form is good and he came back strongly here. I must thank Rob and Susan Macnab and Fito and LIandre Englesakis as well as my Dad, for the assistance and loyalty.”
The Milkwood Stud bred Tommy Gun cost what looks a very well bought R120 000 on the 2012 National Yearling Sale.
He is a son of Ascot Stud’s Gone West stallion Sail From Seattle and is out of the Joshua Dancer mare, Kathakali.
For the rest it was a day to forget.
Was it the strongest field ever – does it even really matter?
Sure, there was more cash on offer and that may have attracted one or two that ordinarily wouldn’t have lined up. But with 27 lengths covering the thirteen that finished, there were plenty of dented egos.
The 15 to 10 favourite Jet Jamboree found himself in midfield from his prized 1 draw and was never able to get to the head of affairs. He moved up at the 600m marker but faded late to be brushed out of fourth by the old man Across The Ice.
Much was also expected of Scott Kenny’s Shadow Line who went off at 13 to 2, but was reported coughing.
He never showed and finished 10,50 lengths back, just ahead of KZN visitor and sand first-timer Rio Carnival, who also ran below his solid turf form.
Last year’s winner In A Rush was a surprise return visitor and title defender, but slowed to a walk across the line and ran 23 lengths behind the winner. He was found to be not striding out behind.
After his early exertions, the winner’s stablemate Anger ran 27 lengths behind and pulled up distressed. Whiteline Fever appeared to go wrong in running and never completed the race. It was found afterwards that he had suffered a bilateral epistaxis and was given a 90 day suspension.
All in all, a great day’s horseracing entertainment.