The Cape has sweated through many summers since Milnerton trainer Eric Sands has had a horse really worth getting excited about.
But Rainbow Bridge’s storming late victory from off the gallop in Saturday’s R250 000 Gr3 Matchem Stakes at Durbanville, suggests there could be some big moments ahead again as we move into the jet stream of the Cape Summer Of Champions.
The low-profile Sands took his licence out 35 years ago and has had his share of top horses – Jungle Warrior, Wexford Boy, Double D’or, Flobayou, Perfect Promise and Hundred Acre Wood, are some that come to mind.
And after Saturday’s victory – making it three straight Gr3 successes, and undefeated from 1200m to 1800m, the handsome Rainbow Bridge could be just about anything right now.
Not seen since his victories brightened the dead of winter in the Cape Winter Guineas and Cape Winter Classic, Rainbow Bridge’s connections wisely – in hindsight – avoided a dip at the rich cheque on offer in the Vodacom Durban July and have brought the Ideal World gelding back to contest his 4yo term as an exciting, unfinished and untapped product.
With his turn of foot, professional attitude and general cucumber cool demeanour, Rainbow Bridge is looking a dream work-in-progress towards the perfect racehorse.
He still needs to beat something of genuine note, but it’s early days and he had the 2017 Cape Guineas winner Tap O’Noth, conceding 2kgs, two lengths in arrears on Saturday.
Produced late by the high-riding Bernard Fayd’herbe, who claimed a feature double on the day, Rainbow Bridge was not given a hiding and went on comfortably to beat longshot New Caledonia by 1,25 lengths in a time of 81.98 secs.
Last year’s winner Our Mate Art was a further half length back in third, with Tap O’ Noth only getting going late for fourth.
A R300 000 National Yearling Sale buy, Rainbow Bridge was bred by Wilgerbosdrift and Mauritzfontein and is a 4yo gelded son of Ideal World (Kingmambo) out of the versatile seven-time winner Halfway To Heaven (Jet Master), whose successes included the 2013 Gr3 Prix Du Cap.
There is a sentimental connection to the family for Eric Sands, who trained the dam for Gavin Walker until she was sold to Mauritzfontein, in whose silks she raced for Mike de Kock until the end of her career.
Gr3 Matchem Stakes (SAf-Gr3)
Durbanville, South Africa, October 6, R250k, 1400m, turf, good, 1.21.98
1 – RAINBOW BRIDGE (SAF), 58.0, b g 4, Ideal World (USA) – Halfway To Heaven (SAF) by Jet Master (SAF). Owner Mr M C Gerber; Breeder Wilgerbosdrift & Mauritzfontein; trainer AE Sands; jockey B Fayd’herbe
2 – New Caledonia (SAF), 57.5, b g 6, Right Approach (GB) – Coral Garden (SAF) by Tiger Ridge (USA)
3 – Our Mate Art (AUS), 58.5, b g 5, Artie Schiller (USA) – Laureldean Dream (USA) by Stravinsky (USA)
Margins: 1.25, 0.50, 0.20