Phillipi trainer Brett Crawford crowned his best ever season at home and away when he saddled the R1 million Gr1 Champions Cup exacta at Greyville on Saturday. An overdue first Gr1 success for the 6yo Sail South unfolded as the cards fell the way of Richard Fourie and the consistent Sail From Seattle gelding.
A horse who has flown just below the radar and in the shadow of some of the serious Gr1 heavy-hitters this season, the SP top-rated Sail South always looked the value at early odds of 25 to 1, and meeting his stablemate Captain America on 2kgs better terms on their L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate clash, he had to be a factor if things went his way.
Not intimidated by the presence of Gr1 stars Marinaresco and Bela-Bela, and cruising in the jet stream of his power galloping stablemate Captain America, Sail South ticked the one unknown box – whether he would stay the 1800m – when he swept into the lead at the 250m marker to win conclusively.
Even though recent Gold Challenge winner Captain America was always going to be the pacesetter, the field was stretched out by some fifteen lengths as Corne Orffer had the long-striding Captain Al gelding out front after overcoming his wide draw, and galloping with intent from the word go. With no cover, Fourie slotted Sail South in second, with Ten Gun Salute and It’s My Turn further back. The fancied Marinaresco and Bela-Bela were some way back early.
In the run for home, the Crawford duo built their lead to three lengths as only Bela-Bela and Matador Man offered any resistance.
With Captain America staying on more than quickening, the 16 to 1 shot Sail South went past him and drew off to win by 1,25 lengths in a time of 108,28 secs.
Recent KZN Million Mile winner Matador Man came from lengths back for a career best third a further length back, with Bela-Bela trying her heart out but unable to make any impression as she plodded into fourth.
July winner Marinaresco ran a dismal race and never quickened to run second last.
Winning jockey Richard Fourie expressed his thanks to the Brett Crawford team and has formed a solid association with a horse he picked up at a time when he had no other big horses to ride.
“I’ve gotten to know this horse. I couldn’t get any cover and I was swinging on for dear life early on. I knew he would get there as we came for home and he gave me a good kick when I asked. I would like to dedicate this win to my late brother-in-law Chris Puller,” said Fourie.
In his best season, trainer Brett Crawford said that he thought both his horses were big runners. He said that he felt that Captain America was brave in defeat, but that Sail South deserved to win.
With a Listed success his biggest strike to date, Sail South has won 9 races with 13 places from 37 starts for stakes of R1 446 775.
Bred by Mr & Mrs GN Pott, who race him with Gill Dempsey, Sail South is a son of Sail From Seattle (Gone West) out of the four-time winning Southern Pride (Northfields). The latter won up to 2400m, so jockey Fourie’s belief that Sail South would stay the 1800m was not a shot in the dark.
The result of this race may have left the Equus selection panel with a few more questions than answers.
Gr1 Champions Cup (SAf-Gr1)
Greyville, South Africa, July 29, R1 million, 1800m, turf, good, 1.48.28
1 – SAIL SOUTH (SAF), 58.0, b g 6, Sail From Seattle (USA) – Southern Pride (SAF) by Northfields (USA). Owner Mrs G J Dempsey & Mr & Mrs G N Pott; Breeder GN & Mrs Pott; trainer BJ Crawford; jockey R Fourie
2 – Captain America (SAF), 60.0, b g 6, Captain Al (SAF) – Requista (SAF) by Fort Wood (USA)
3 – Matador Man (SAF), 56.5, b g 3, Toreador (IRE) – Sahara (SAF) by Mogok (USA)
Margins: 1.25, 1.00, 0.50