Blinkers and ice-cool nerves by jockey Marco van Rensburg was the tonic required to get the promising Dynasty gelding Wild Wicket back into the winner’s enclosure at Scottsville on Sunday.
The raceday held annually to commemorate the career of KZN racing’s favourite son Michael ‘Muis’ Roberts was headlined by the R150 000 Listed Michael Roberts Handicap run over the inside track 1750m.
With the enigmatic 6yo Run Rhino Run refusing to load, the field was reduced to just 9 runners.
Marco van Rensburg dropped the newly-blinkered Wild Wicket out to last as topweight Celtic Captain led Sun On Africa and Fantasy Lady at a relaxed gallop.
Inside the 400m, Celtic Captain had things his own way and continued to gallop as Red Chesnut Road took late and Wild Wicket was – almost casually – switched to the outside at the 150m marker for his effort.
With Van Rensburg riding with composure and only his hands, Wild Wicket took off inside the 150m and flew late to collar Red Chesnut Road by a quarter length in a time of 106,31 secs.
Celtic Captain ran a gallant race under 61kgs, looking a winner late and then staying on for third, ahead of Sun On Africa in fourth.
Trainer Duncan Howells admitted that at the 400m he was already thinking about how he was going to explain the run to owner Dave Maclean.
Jockey Marco van Rensburg said that he had gone through all the replays of Wild Wicket’s races.
“He has to be ridden patiently,” he added – as if we hadn’t cottoned on to that fact!
Bred by Willempie Engelbrecht jnr, Wild Wicket is by Dynasty (Fort Wood) out of the four-time winner, Firstnightbliss (Jallad).
A R2 million National Yearling Sale purchase, Wild Wicket has won 4 races with 8 places from 15 starts
In a nice touch, the minor races on the day were named in honour of some of the great jockeys whom Michael Roberts rode against
Gold Circle Ambassador Bill Lambert paid tribute to Roberts as ‘an international racing ambassador of note’.
An eleven -time SA champion and 1992 champion of Britain, Muis Roberts turns 63 in May and trains out of Summerveld. He rode the first of his 3968 career winners at the Pietermaritzburg track in 1968 on a horse called Smyrna.