The 2012 Vodacom Durban July winner and South Africa’s Champion First Crop Sire elect Pomodoro rounded off a cracking opening season when he sired his first Gr1 winner courtesy of the R20 000 purchase Return Flight, who spread-eagled her field to win the R750 000 Gr1 Thekwini Stakes at Greyville on Saturday.
Outgoing SA Champion trainer Sean Tarry, by his own admission having seen his team ‘drop the ball’ in the first half of the season, finished like an express train to bring the curtain down on our final major raceday.
Jumping from a good draw with Anton Marcus in the saddle, Return Flight had been earmarked as his likely 3rd career Gr1 winner for her original pilot, the bitterly disappointed and injured Lyle Hewitson, and enjoyed good betting support to start at 16-1.
Relaxed behind Mazari early on, Anton Marcus took Return Flight up the outside at the 350m marker and she came home strongly to beat the late finishing Joburg visitor Railtrip by 1,75 lengths in a time of 96,98 secs and give the new Highlands-Ridgemont rider his 101st Gr1 success.
Brand new trainer Chesney van Zyl saddled the runner-up, who got the better of his brother Gareth’s runner Can You Feel It, who ran 2,25 lengths back in third.
The China Horse Club’s Dagmar moved up in the straight but may not have seen the mile out, running fourth.
The pacesetting Mazari, runner-up in the Golden Slipper, ran out of steam to finish ten lengths downfield.
A R20 000 CTS 2017 March Yearling Sale buy by Rainbow Beach Trading – she came up as the second lot on that sale – Return Flight was bred by Mike Sharkey and is by Pomodoro (Jet Master) out of the four-time winner Heading Home (Special Preview).
Return Flight has won 3 races with 2 places from 5 starts for stakes of R613 625.
Pomodoro, who ran in the same silks for the same trainer when winning the Vodacom Durban July at this track, will stand at Klawervlei for a fee of R12 000 (unchanged) in 2018.
Gr1 Thekwini Stakes (SAf-Gr1)
Greyville, South Africa, July 28, R750k, 1600m, turf, good, 1.36.98
1 – RETURN FLIGHT (SAF), 60.0, b f 2, Pomodoro (SAF) – Heading Home (SAF) by Special Preview (SAF). Owner Mr C J H Van Niekerk; Breeder M Sharkey; trainer SG Tarry; jockey A Marcus
2 – Railtrip (SAF), 60.0, b f 2, Trippi (USA) – Grail Maiden (AUS) by Galileo (IRE)
3 – Can You Feel It (SAF), 60.0, b f 2, Jackson (SAF) – Wonder Glow (SAF) by Windrush (USA)
Margins: 1.75, 2.25, 0.25