South African horseracing welcomed a locally bred speed superstar to the stallion ranks when the superbly talented Captain Of All rounded off his illustrious track career with a third Gr1 trophy. He cruised to a facile victory in the R750 000 Mercury Sprint run at weight-for-age at Greyville on Saturday – leaving three Gr1 winners eating humble pie in his immediate wake.
Our top-rated sprinter, who must be something of a good thing for Equus Champion Sprinter, will take up duties at Klawervlei Stud rising 5 and with relatively little mileage on the clock.
He made just twelve racecourse appearances, that saw him notch up an impressive seven wins (3 Gr1’s and a Gr2) all, bar one 1000m Pinnacle Stakes victory, over 1200m.
He is the first Gr1 winning son of Captain Al to go to stud and is living proof again of the sometimes romantic and fickle nature of what many see, often to their detriment, as a deceptively scientific game.
A R100 000 Klawervlei Farm sale graduate with an off-set knee, his breeder Duncan Barry of Riverton Stud once admitted that when he looked at the star speedster’s dam in the sales catalogue, he wondered exactly what had made him buy her.
He was apparently comforted by the fact though that she was well related on her own dam’s side, and also because the family had produced some good winners from largely ordinary stallions.
The astute Dennis Drier is the man who saw beyond those shortcomings – and he landed up training a champion for South Africa’s leading owners, Ingrid and Markus Jooste.
But despite the happy ending, Captain Of All’s highly anticipated farewell appearance took on a dramatic twist when Sean Cormack, the only jockey to have ever ridden him in a race, was injured in the fourth race and had to be replaced.
His substitute Greg Cheyne enjoyed an armchair ride in the end – but it must have been a bitter blow for the likeable Cormack, who built a dream partnership with Captain Of All.
While Cormack only came on board in midstream, he also won eleven races on another Drier champion in the Dynasty mare Beach Beauty, who retired at the end of last season.
Facing ten opponents, and something of a good thing on paper, Captain Of All was quickly away and led African Dream for 200m, before Richard Fourie made his move around the wide outside on Legislate, who bravely took up the fight to lead by two lengths.
The move, the only realistic option for the proven miler, looked to have some hope of success at the 400m, but Greg Cheyne was bluffing and he gave the Captain orders to go.
Despite hanging out in the latter stages, Captain Of All was just too classy and simply floated clear to win by 4,50 lengths in a time of 70,84 secs.
Carry On Alice ran a typically courageous race to fly up the outside late in proceedings, as she nabbed the game Legislate late to bank the second cheque
The Snaith gamble on Legislate would have meant that the son of Dynasty will strip fit for next weekend’s Champions Cup – while also providing confirmation that he is probably at his brilliant best around a mile.
The 2014 Mercury Sprint winner Fly By Night rounded off a Gr1 quartet, by also kicking on late to run fourth.
Willow Magic fought jockey Piere Strydom for a long way and compounded to run downfield. He must be a frustrating horse to own and train.
The winner was bred by Riverton Stud and is by Captain Al out of the one-time winning Fard mare, Serious Side, who was purchased while in training with Martin Cohen in PE.
Captain Of All won 7 of 12 starts with 4 places and R2 258 900 in stakes.
Don’t blink – the next generation of speed looms large!
Gr1 The Mercury Sprint (SAf-Gr1)
Greyville, South Africa, July 18, R750k, 1200m, turf, good, 1.10.84
1 – CAPTAIN OF ALL (SAF), 60.0, b c 4, Captain Al (SAF) – Serious Side (SAF) by Fard (IRE). Owner Mrs I Jooste & Mr M J Jooste; Breeder Riverton Stud; trainer DR Drier; jockey G Cheyne
2 – Carry On Alice (SAF), 57.0, b f 3, Captain Al (SAF) – Carry On Katie (SAF) by Western Winter (USA)
3 – Legislate (SAF), 60.0, b c 4, Dynasty (SAF) – Champers (SAF) by Restructure
Margins: 4.50, 0.05, 0.15