Run at a modest pace, the R500 000 Gr3 Betting World 2200 opened the Vodacom Durban July Day feature programme with Cape West Coast trainer Andre Nel drawing first blood for longstanding owner Sabine Plattner.
A powerful front-running sort who enjoys bowling along ahead of his field, Keagan De Melo had the 4yo Querari gelding Head Honcho relaxed ahead of fellow Vodacom Durban July discard Crowd Pleaser, with nobody willing to take the race by the scruff of the neck.
At the top of the straight the pair upped the ante and stayed on best to fight it out with the Listed Sledhgehammer Stakes winner Head Honcho (14-1) getting the verdict by a neck to win in a time of 136,84 secs.
Crowd Pleaser loves the coast at this time of the year and was bidding for a double after winning this race last year.
The Johan Janse van Vuuren-trained son of Captain Al confirmed his recent form second to July favourite African Night Sky in the Cup Trial.
Fellow July ‘reserve’Pack Leader got going too late and was relegated to fourth behind the improved again Blackball, who snuffed out a lot of Place Accumulator tickets by hanging on stoutly for his third cheque.
The favourite Strathdon was always near the rear and his trainer Justin Snaith may be wondering why neither of his riders took the initiative, as they were never going to be competitive by sprinting for home off that pace.
A La Plaisance Stud home-bred, Head Honcho has won 6 races with 5 places from 15 starts for stakes of R738 500.
A son of Querari (Oasis Dream) Head Honcho is out of three-time winner School Captain (Captain Al), who also ran in the Plattner silks in her racing days.
Gr3 Betting World 2200 (SAf-Gr3)
Greyville, South Africa, July 7, R500k, 2200m, turf, good, 2.16.84
1 – HEAD HONCHO (SAF), 56.0, b g 4, Querari (GER) – School Captain (SAF) by Captain Al (SAF). Owner Mrs S Plattner; Breeder La Plaisance Stud; trainer A Nel; jockey K De Melo
2 – Crowd Pleaser (SAF), 58.0, b c 4, Captain Al (SAF) – Happy Jean by Charismatic (USA)
3 – Blackball (SAF), 52.0, b g 3, Black Minnaloushe (USA) – Kite Runner (SAF) by Kabool (GB)
Margins: 0.10, 2.75, 0.05