A poker game over the final 400m of the R150 000 Listed Wolf Power 1600 at Turffontein on Saturday fell the way of the astute Gavin Lerena who got Grand Heritage winner Irish Pride home for a well deserved first stakes success.
The beautifully bred Rafeef went off favourite in the eight horse field and when the magnificent son of Redoute’s Choice cruised to the front down the inside at the 400m marker it really looked a case of how far.
But Gavin Lerena was having none of the laying down and playing dead stuff on Irish Pride, who had moved up smartly past leaders Fareeq and Stonehenge 50m earlier.
With Callan Murray’s body language on the free-running Rafeef screaming “bank the cheque” as he went a length clear, Lerena changed his whip to the right hand to maintain a civil gap and got Irish Pride balanced and lifting.
We were left guessing as to who was bluffing who, but into the 300m another subtle lightning fast change of crop hands had Irish Pride cutting back the lead and the consistent son of Ideal World won going away by 0,80 lengths in a time of 97,43 secs.
The winner races in the interests of the Wernars family and is trained by Johan Janse van Vuuren.
A polished performance by the winning horse-and-rider but Rafeef is no slouch and he went down with his reputation intact.
Romany Prince had every chance a further 1,30 lengths away in third, with the long-time pacesetter Fareeq hanging on gamely for fourth.
If there was a disappointment in the small field, it was Pierre Jourdan’s half-brother Champagne Haze who never got into it under top weight, and fell right away to 5,90 lengths behind.
The Mauritzfontein Stud-bred Irish Pride is a 4yo gelded son of Ideal World out of the twice winning Fort Wood mare, Celtic Cross.
He was signed for at R260 000 by Triple 8 Clothing at the 2014 KZN Suncoast Yearling Sale.
Irish Pride has won 6 races with 6 places from 17 starts and stakes of R847 150.
He should pay to follow in the season.