In a sensational swoop from some lengths off the action, Elusive Fort’s athletic daughter Safe Harbour became the first filly to win the R2,5 million Lanzerac Ready To Run Stakes.
She collared the gallant pacemaker Sergeant Hardy in the final strides to bank the biggest cheque of her career.
South African champion trainer Sean Tarry has had a few near misses in this generously endowed Cape Thoroughbred Sales graduate race, but he can thank the masterful Weichong Marwing on a superbly talented filly for putting it all together with a dazzling display of ice-cool race riding.
With Gr1 Gold Medallion winner Always In Charge well drawn and topping the boards, and Gr2 Golden Horseshoe star Zodiac Ruler drawn right alongside him, the 2016 renewal – the fourth running of the race – was labelled the best so far.
The contest didn’t disappoint as a spectacle – although punters were left licking their wounds.
Safe Harbour was one of a number of victims of the early scrimmaging and she had to be checked off the heels of Always In Charge, who himself was forced to ease off heels shortly after the start. Marwing eventually settled Safe Harbour in midfield as Anthony Delpech tried to repeat his 2015 front-running feat, with Sergeant Hardy leading Elusive Path.
Into the home run, Sergeant Hardy kicked again as he grabbed two lengths on his field, with Safe Harbour appearing to hit a flat spot, having many lengths to make up.
But with a few cracks of the whip and a switch to the inside for daylight, the internationally experienced Marwing rode a determined finish as Safe Harbour took off and stormed down the rail – narrowly avoiding the shifting in pacemaker Sergeant Hardy, to win going away by 0,75 lengths in a time of 85,06 secs.
Despite some rather below-par form in his Cape Town yard in recent weeks, Justin Snaith would have taken Sergeant Hardy’s gallant second with both hands – he also trains the fourth placed Bishop’s Bounty.
One of the lesser fancied of the seven Mayfair Speculators runners, Vaughan Marshall’s Elusive Path was always in the firing line and found a good finish to come again for third.
The favourite Always In Charge never showed after that early check, and was forced to check again at the 200m with Purple Tractor tiring. He didn’t look like he had much to come at that stage and disappointed his followers when plodding into seventh position and 4 lengths off the winner.
The well-supported Gr1 winner Zodiac Ruler could only finish ninth and 5,15 lengths off.
Stakes were paid all the way down to tenth position, with the slow-off Australian-bred Newlands picking up R30 000 as the last of the money earners.
SA champion trainer Sean Tarry, who was enjoying his tenth wedding anniversary, and had his wife Karen on course to celebrate the occasion, said he was ‘not surprised’.
“Safe Harbour had no luck in the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup from her wide draw, so we could put a line through that run. She came in off a perfect prep, this was her third run after a rest and she had a good draw – she was the best of our three,” said Tarry.
Bred by Dr Jim Antrobus, Safe Harbour is a daughter of Elusive Fort out of the Rakeen mare, Saint Isidora. She should go 2000m on that breeding.
She was originally offered on the 2015 CTS March Yearling Sale when consigned by Highlands Farms.
Kuda Insurance signed the chit at R100 000 there and she then went through the ring on the Lanzerac Ready To Run Sale when purchased by leading owner Chris van Niekerk for R180 000 – Kuda boss Wehann Smith shrewdly retaining a share in the process.
Safe Harbour took her stakes banked with this victory to R1 500 750. She has won 3 races with 3 places from 8 starts.
Safe Harbour is entered for the Cape Fillies Guineas and it will be interesting to see whether she takes on the challenge in two weeks from now.