Affectionately labelled a ‘freak’ by one of his owners, and registering his second consecutive Gr1 win from just ten starts, the Toreador gelding Bull Valley played himself into serious contention for the Equus Champion Sprinter title with a smooth victory in the R800 000 Gr1 Mercury Sprint at Greyville on Saturday.
On another recordbreaking day at the office for champion trainer Sean Tarry, Bull Valley also presented his breeder Dr Marianne Thomson – who coincidentally also bred Tarry’s first ever Gr1 Met winner Alastor – with a thrilling birthday gift on her special day.
The 1200m contest, which brought the curtain down on the season’s speed majors, started bleakly for Tarry and punters with the 5 to 2 favourite Trip To Heaven – rather predictably – losing lengths at the jump.
On the flipside of the coin, Bull Valley had everything go his way from his 2 draw, with the ice cool Karl Zechner – whose father in law was watching him live for the first time in his career – booting home his only ride of the afternoon.
Zechner had Bull Valley relaxed just off the leaders London Call, Search Party and Rivarine, and produced the smart gelding at the 300m with an electrifying burst that carried him past London Call. The game Post Merchants winner Search Party raised his game and chased the leader, but the writing was on the wall 150m from home.
Bull Valley charged home to beat Search Party by a length in a time of 69,22 secs, with the well supported New Predator coming on strongly a short head back in third.
With local boy London Call narrowly (even Eagle Eye Craig Peters called it wrong) getting the better of the low-flying Champagne Haze to bank the R40 000 fourth cheque, the slow-starting Trip To Heaven, who bobbed and weaved his way from his hopeless position, caught the eye in sixth and only 2,65 lengths off the winner – sterling stuff in the end!
The rest were well beaten.
Jockey Karl Zechner, who never seems to really get too excited about anything, said that the nice draw helped. “Bull Valley’s midweek work was winning quality and he was spot on. I left him where he was happy in the race – he glided through late and changed legs – very impressive!”
Sean Tarry, who was naturally disappointed with Trip To Heaven’s antics, said that Bull Valley needs time between his runs. “He came up with an abcess ten days ago – we took it day by day – I was expecting pressure from the owners , but they were great. I’m particularly happy for Jimmy Sarkis who took a bigger share of Bull Valley recently.”
Bull Valley was bred by Ambiance Stud and is a 4yo gelded son of Toreador (Danehill) out of the two-time winning Star Of Liberty (Saumarez).
Bull Valley cost R180 000 on the BSA National Yearling Sale and took his earnings to R1 611 125 with his 6th win and 3 places from just 10 starts.
Tarry marches on to another title – and with Carry On Alice in the speed mix – and a good few others in his arsenal, to another big night at Equus on 15 August!
Gr1 Mercury Sprint (SAf-Gr1)
Greyville, South Africa, July 15, R800k, 1200m, turf, good, 1.09.22
1 – BULL VALLEY (SAF), 60.0, b g 4, Toreador (IRE) – Star Of Liberty (SAF) by Saumarez (GB). Owner PCS (Pty) Ltd (Nom: Mr P Botha) & Messrs G L Blank, Z L Nassif & J Sarkis; Breeder Ambiance Stud; trainer SG Tarry; jockey K Zechner
2 – Search Party (SAF), 60.0, b g 4, Captain Al (SAF) – Princess Magdalena (GB) by Pennekamp (USA)
3 – New Predator (AUS), 60.0, b c 4, New Approach (IRE) – Head Over Heels (AUS) by Fastnet Rock (AUS)
Margins: 1.00, 0.10, 1.25