Veteran Milnerton conditioner Bill Prestage and jockey Wesley Marwing conspired in a tactical masterstroke to produce the feature upset on a sun drenched afternoon at Durbanville on Saturday.
With the beautiful weather and the unofficial opening of the new country course attracting a mix of enthusiastic and inquisitive racegoers, the 7yo Red Peril produced a classic display of catch-me-if-you-can galloping to upstage his more fancied rivals, and in the process score an overdue first feature stakes success at his 33rd career start.
The well related gelding stays all day and there are few more experienced horsemen around than the wily Bill Prestage, who trains a small string for his own account at Milnerton.
With the thirteen horse field contesting the R150 000 Listed Settlers Trophy passing the stands twice, the race proved a spectacle with spectators lining the rails as Richard Fourie chased the fancied One Direction up early to overcome his wide draw down the home straight, with Tiger Tops and Royal Ginger in attendance.
Wesley Marwing was at work on the sluggish starter Red Peril who found himself in the last five before they passed the winning post for the first time. But into the back straight, Benjan was given a brief chance to strutt his stuff, before the Prestage galloper was in front where he wanted to be – and he was never seen again.
Into the home run, Red Peril was ten lengths clear and he never faltered as a surprised Marwing glanced behind at the 100m, and then saluted in glee, as he passed the post 5,25 lengths clear to contribute materially to a rewarding R400 000 plus Pick 6 dividend.
Times on the new course will be academic until a race history is built up and the course was running fast – Red Peril clocked 149,63 secs, versus the SP published standard time of 158,18 secs.
The promising 4yo Our Emperor was – like the majority of them – way out of his ground and only woke up late to snare the free-striding Benjan on the line to grab the second cheque by a head.
Plano pipped One Direction to run fourth.
Former Proteas cricketer Jacques Kallis, now coach of the Cape Town franchise of the Global T20, was a surprise special guest to present the feature trophies.
Trainer Bill Prestage expressed his dismay that his charge was relatively unfancied.
“Look at his form over the distance! He really enjoys the 2400m and it helped that Wesley listened to instructions. Red Peril is a galloper and he has his issues. I think the break on Anna’s (Peggram) farm helped him,” said Mr Prestage.
Jockey Wes Marwing, whose Dad Weichong is an internationally acknowledged rider, has persevered in a bid to establish himself in the Cape and this well-judged ride is bound to lift his profile.
“I worked him during the week and my biggest concern was to make it a true staying test. Mr Prestage told me he is a bit of a tardy starter , so I didn’t panic early and we took over in the back straight. He is a straightforward ride,” the young Marwing added modestly.
Bred by Daytona Stud, Red Peril is a son of Western Winter (Gone West) out of the winner producing First Blush (Jallad) – who didn’t win a race herself.
A R150 000 Cape Premier Yearling Sale Book 1 graduate, Red Peril has won 6 races (including one victory at Flamingo Park), with 8 places from 33 starts for stakes of R367 088.
The new Durbanville track was well received by jockeys and trainers alike, and but for a few sound transmission issues on the Tellytrack outside broadcast, the afternooon was a success.