The high – class Pierre Jourdan’s half-brother Champagne Haze has been a touch in-and-out since his big win in the 2015 Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup.
But he showed that as he matures, the shorter game may well be his forte, with a sensational victory in the R400 000 Gr2 Senor Santa Stakes at Turffontein on Saturday.
In a stirring form turnaround after a win drought, Gavin Lerena rode a cracker for the Gary Alexander yard to register a personal feature hat-trick after scoring earlier on Brazuca (Colorado King Stakes) and Pagoda (Derby Trial).
It was also a thrilling afternoon for multiple SA Champion breeders Summerhill and their versatile broodmare Vin Fizz, who produced the feature double with Champagne Haze and Belle Rose (Golden Sword), winning the Oaks Trial earlier.
While he has won up to a mile, Champagne Haze’ best recent form has been over the sprints – yet he was easy to back when lining up in the 1160m Gr2 feature against some serious speed merchants.
The race admittedly lost some lustre following the withdrawal of the Trippi pair of super sprinter Trip To Heaven and the progressive Graduation Day.
But it lost nothing as a spectacle, with the rush on from the break and a stampede over the final 300m.
Lightly raced Gr3 Man ‘O War Sprint winner Bull Valley (12-10) and the 2015 Senor Santa winner Dollar Dazzler (9-2) dominated the betting boards, but neither was to feature.
After Splendid Garden and Queen Laurie had dominated early on, it was Lerena who produced the bullet late as Champagne Haze lifted into the 200m.
Chased by the game 3yo filly Wrecking Ball, Lerena had things under control to register the win in the same silks he had won the Colorado King Stakes in earlier on.
Champagne Haze won by 2 lengths in a time of 65,49s.
Wrecking Ball maintained her consistency, ahead of the pacy, but inconsistent, Splendid Garden, who came again to head Bull Valley for third.
Champagne Haze has won 5 races with 6 places from his 15 starts for stakes of a healthy R2 065 050.
The winner, astutely purchased at the CTS Johannesburg RTR Sale for R280 000, is by Kahal out of the four-time winner Vin Fizz and was bred at Summerhill Stud.
Gr2 Senor Santa Stakes (SAf-Gr2)
Turffontein, South Africa, March 25, R400k, 1160m, turf, good, 1.05.49
1 – CHAMPAGNE HAZE (SAF), 56.0, b g 4, Kahal (GB) – Vin Fizz (SAF) by Qui Danzig (USA). Owner Messrs J F & L M F Wernars, Pravin Chetty, B G Gardner, A B Giuricich, J Labuschagne, G P Sadie & D A Simpson & Mesdames J P Gardner & A P Whicher; Breeder Summerhill Stud; trainer GM Alexander; jockey G Lerena
2 – Wrecking Ball (SAF), 51.5, b f 3, Great Britain (IRE) – Picadilly Miss (SAF) by London News (SAF)
3 – Splendid Garden (SAF), 54.0, ch g 5, Black Minnaloushe (USA) – Gardener’s Delight (USA) by Giant’s Causeway (USA)
Margins: 2.00, 0.30, 0.10