It is early days yet and Silvano’s son Marinaresco may not have the same physical presence as champion Pocket Power, but one could forgive part-owner Marsh Shirtliff a lump in the throat and a possible misty eye as he watched the Mauritzfontein bred gelding come home an authoritative winner of the R250 000 Gr3 Winter Guineas at Kenilworth on Saturday.
It was ten years ago that the then unheralded Pocket Power beat the Basil Marcus trained Majestic Sun by over 3 lengths to set up a Cape Winter Triple Crown triumph that has never been equalled – and was to be the opening page of an extraordinary chapter in South African horseracing.
The champion raced in the very same ‘boys and girls’ silks as those worn by Aldo Domeyer on Saturday – and for the staunch Shirtliff, who raced the big boy’s full-sister River Jetez in the Amm yellow, hope no doubt springs eternal that he may yet find another just half as good as the ‘King Of Kenilworth’.
The Tekkie Town-sponsored Winter Guineas is the first leg of the R1 million Cape Winter Series – and despite the distractions of the KZN star show and the Cape winter weather – it is a deceptively strong arena of good horses over the years, including the likes of Winter Solstice, Variety Club, July winner Power King and most recently Act Of War, to name a few.
Joey Ramsden trained three of the aforementioned stars, but the Milnerton conditioner will probably want to forget the 2016 renewal as soon as he can.
He sent out Gr2 Selangor Cup winner Hard Day’s Night, who led for a long way on Saturday but fell away to finish way back – the unkindest cut may be due.
But worse was the fate that befell his stablemate Mr Wise Guy.
The son of Visionaire broke through the gates and away from recent birthday boy Gareth Wright, and was withdrawn after galloping the course.
The unacceptable situation of punishing well behaved horses, who are forced to idle and fall asleep, at the expense of delinquent or poorly schooled horses, was highlighted in the process.
Ironically it was the eventual third placed Vilikazi who was the villain of the peace – refusing to load and then backing out after being bundled in – causing a lengthy delay and probably contributing materially to the eventual breakout of Mr Wise Guy.
What is the solution to this predicament that impacts on all involved – including punters and owners – two sectors that racing needs to look after properly?
After the start drama, another Crawford runner in This Is Sparta lost ground, but that may have been partly intentional, given his wide draw.
With Marinaresco settled nearer last Hard Day’s Night led them all the way around and was taken to the outside rail into the home straight.
With Vilakazi and Marinaresco still some ten lengths back at the 400m, Whisky Baron was launched down the outside to challenge as the leaders started falling away.
But Domeyer was sitting with a double handful and in a thrilling finish Marinaresco powered home to beat Whisky Baron against the outside rail by just under a half length in a time of 99,76 secs.
It was Aldo Domeyer’s third winner in a row – and a feature double after he had won the fifth and sixth races in the Plattner silks. The always chirpy rider credited his form to his sponsor, Boost – an energy drink.
Marinaresco, who had run such a creditable third in the Gr1 Investec Cape Derby, looks well set for the series and is definitely likely to enjoy the increased test of stamina as the game goes into the next two rounds.
On the flipside, he will be competitive in the SA Champions Season and that may be an option.
But being a Silvano and knowing Mike Bass’s catch-a-monkey-slowly style, we would vote for him staying put.
The runner-up Whisky Baron’s stablemate, the errant Vilakazi, came from miles back to clinch third – a great effort considering his antics at the start.
PE challenger Fly Like The Wind was 4,25 lengths back in fourth – a stamp of approval of sorts for the Eastern Cape 3yo form.
Like the fillies’ equivalent winner Captain’s Flame, Marinaresco is a 2014 BSA National Yearling Sale graduate.
Bred by Mauritzfontein Stud, he is by Silvano out of the two-time winning Fort Wood mare, Gay Fortuna. The winner’s older half sister by Ideal World is a rather modest looking one-time winner.
Marinaresco was purchased by Mike Bass Racing for R1,3 million and races in the longstanding Shirtliff-Ressell partnership.
Marinaresco has won 2 races with 5 places from his 8 starts and has taken his earnings to R375 075. He also banked the innovative BSA Added Value Stakes Bonus of R87 500.
What a thriller of a race – we look forward to the Winter Classic on 21 May.
Gr3 Winter Guineas (SAf-Gr3)
Kenilworth, South Africa, April 23, R250k, 1600m, turf, good, 1.39.76
1 – MARINARESCO (SAF), 58.0, b g 3, Silvano (GER) – Gay Fortuna (SAF) by Fort Wood (USA). Owner Messrs Bryn Ressell & N M Shirtliff; Breeder Mauritzfontein Stud; trainer MW Bass; jockey A Domeyer
2 – Whisky Baron (AUS), 58.5, b c 3, Manhattan Rain (AUS) – Tazkara (FR) by Sinndar (IRE)
3 – Vilakazi (SAF), 58.0, ch g 3, Visionaire (USA) – Sweet Virginia (SAF) by Casey Tibbs (IRE)
Margins: 0.40, 0.20, 4.25