Milnerton trainer Eric Sands and his owner Chris Gerber face a dream poser in the aftermath of their Ideal World gelding Rainbow Bridge’s gallant victory in Saturday’s R250 000 Gr3 Winter Classic at Kenilworth.
A Vodacom Durban July supplementary entry, or a tilt at becoming the third horse after Pocket Power and African Night Sky to win the prestigious Highlands Winter Series Triple Crown?
That’s the bald obvious choices facing the seasoned connections as they sit down to contemplate a workmanlike victory achieved in only Rainbow Bridge’s third run and first try at 1800m , in the second leg of the winter triple crown.
Absent was the flash and fizz of the Winter Guineas, where an electrifying turn of foot paralysed his opposition. But this victory showed heart and courage in the face of adversity.
On Saturday Rainbow Bridge was purposely taken up closer to the action, to teach him to race properly – and to avoid a potential desperate chase to beat the shorter winter straight.
As things turned out, the 9-10 favourite fought jockey Richard Fourie all the way and looked under serious pressure as he hit the front early in the straight.
But the top jockey, who sacrificed four Gr1 rides at Scottsville to stick with a horse he rates highly, never panicked and kept the big boy going to hold off a late challenge from Selangor Cup winner – and July entry – Rocket Countdown by a length in a time of 112 secs flat.
The Politician Stakes winner Doublemint was a half length back in third after looming up late. He can be watched in the Winter Derby!
Rainbow Bridge was a R300 000 National Yearling graduate. Unbeaten in three starts, he took his earnings to R362 500 on a glorious winter’s afternoon.
Bred by Wilgerbosdrift and Mauritzfontein, the 3yo gelded son of Ideal World (Kingmambo) is out of the seven-time winner Halfway To Heaven (Jet Master). There is plenty of sentiment and emotion as Eric Sands also trained the dam for Gavin Walker, who was on course on Saturday to celebrate the win.
The Winter Derby is run over 2400m. The July is run over 2200m. Fourie’s quip that he feels that Rainbow Bridge is a top miler in the making, and a better horse when ridden from off the gallop, will be key to helping minds being made up.
Final supplementary entries for the Vodacom Durban July close on Monday 18 June.
Whatever the tough choices to be made, Rainbow Bridge looks quite special.
Gr3 Winter Classic (SAf-Gr3)
Kenilworth, South Africa, May 26, R250k, 1800m, turf, good, 1.52.52
1 – RAINBOW BRIDGE (SAF), 59.0, b g 3, Ideal World (USA) – Halfway To Heaven (SAF) by Jet Master (SAF). Owner Mr M C Gerber; Breeder Wilgerbosdrift & Mauritzfontein; trainer AE Sands; jockey R Fourie
2 – Rocket Countdown (SAF), 60.0, b g 3, Alado (GB) – Shinkanzen (SAF) by Cordoba (USA)
3 – Doublemint (SAF), 59.0, ch c 3, Twice Over (GB) – Nepeta (NZ) by Tale Of The Cat (USA)
Margins: 1.00, 0.50, 1.25