Fireworks and drum majorettes got the 2016 SA Champions Season off to a cracking start at Greyville on Friday evening. Trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren drew first blood for the Gauteng attack with his impressive Australian-bred 3yo New Predator showing no respect for his elders when scoring an easy win in the R400 000 Gr2 Drill Hall Stakes.
The golf enforced switch of this meeting from Saturday to the popular Friday under-the-lights slot at the theatre of dreams added plenty of sparkle to an impressive opening. What lies ahead is a highly anticipated three months of action racing, where R47 million worth of stakes and 58 feature events will have the best from across the land bumping heads.
The Drill Hall Stakes is a traditional pointer to bigger things and it was to be the only 3yo in the eleven horse line-up who benefitted from a thinking man’s ride to run out an embarrassingly easy winner.
Recently returned from injury, the world-class Weichong Marwing had the free-striding New Predator out quickly and he led Legislate, with The Conglomerate further back.
Into the home run New Predator continued to roll as Legislate came under pressure and became a bit one-paced.
With the winning post approaching, New Predator continued to gallop powerfully to register his first stakes success by a half length in a time of 85,35 secs.
The Gr2 Cape Merchants winner Triptique ran a cracker as he came out of the pack to chase the leader and pay a telephone number dividend for a tote place.
Last year’s winner Ice Machine was on his best behaviour at the start and was marginally slow away. He ran on well for third, two lengths off the winner.
The favourite Legislate was returning from a 13 week break following his unplaced Met run. The former July winner was given every chance by Anthony Delpech, but when asked had nothing to come and fell away to finish 3,90 lengths off the winner.
Trainer Justin Snaith confirmed that the well-performed athlete had not looked his sparkling self in the parade ring before the race.
The Mauritzfontein and Wilgerbosdrift sponsored Weichong Marwing said he was happy for owner Lawrence Wernars, one of his major supporters.
“I think the world of this horse. He is a top 3yo – this was just a prep run. I was happy to lead and I knew he would fight all the way,” said a visibly pleased Marwing.
Johan Janse van Vuuren has not been the luckiest of conditioners at times but enjoyed the swing of the wheel of fortune. He confirmed that a bad draw in the Guineas had initiated the move to run his charge in open company.
“We brought him back soft and he wasn’t tuned up – but it was a great ride by Weichong (Marwing). He slowed it up beautifully. And a major thanks to to New Turf Carriers for their professional service,” he added.
New Predator was scoring an overdue first stakes success and had looked a winner before tiring late in the HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes – behind subsequent Premier’s Champions Challenge winner, Legal Eagle.
The colt has now won 3 races with 5 places from 9 starts for stakes of R715 250.
Purchased by Kerry Jack Bloodstock and a Magic Millions A$50k weanling buy. he was bred in Queensland Australia by D. Austin and is a son of Darley’s Galileo stallion New Approach.
A European Champion at two and three, he has produced three first-crop Gr1 winners and has the distinction of being the first stallion ever to sire three juvenile Royal Ascot Stakes winners in the same year.
New Predator is out of the Fastnet Rock mare, Head Over Heels, a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Presently and Gr3-placed Another Time.
The winner looks likely to go a mile plus and is a name to pencil in for the season.
There were social media chirps from certain jockeys about the ‘shocking’ state of the track. These could not be confirmed.
Gr2 Drill Hall Stakes (SAf-Gr2)
Greyville, South Africa, May 6, R400k, 1400m, turf, good, 1.25.35
1 – NEW PREDATOR (AUS), 56.0, b c 3, New Approach (IRE) – Head Over Heels (AUS) by Fastnet Rock (AUS). Owner Messrs J F & L M F Wernars; Breeder bred in Australia; trainer JJ v Vuuren; jockey Wei Marwing
2 – Triptique (SAF), 59.0, b g 4, Trippi (USA) – Pearl River (SAF) by Jallad (USA)
3 – Ice Machine (SAF), 59.0, b g 7, Silvano (GER) – Skid Alley (SAF) by Elliodor (FR)
Margins: 0.50, 1.50, 1.75