Cape racing is often seen as the flat tyre on the South African horseracing tricycle.
Yet at a sundrenched Durbanville on Saturday we witnessed two of the most exciting horses we have seen for some time in the form of the undefeated pair of One World and Rainbow Bridge.
With an anorexic out-of-season programme, a dwindling horseracing population, Mickey Mouse field sizes and generally so often treated as the black sheep of the SA horseracing family, the Cape somehow has a knack of delivering the goods when it comes to the real test of four-legged machinery on the track.
While it’s history now, last season the province produced the SA Champion trainer and four of the top ten handlers nationwide.
The Vodacom Durban July winner, the Sun Met winner, our Champion Owner and Champion Breeder can also claim residency in the fairest Cape.
Two of our greatest horses of recent times were born in far-flung destinations, Kimberley and Argentina.
It’s not every day that a Horse Chestnut or Empress Club hits the mainstream. But the Cape has churned out the bombs with magical monotonous regularity over the years.
And now enter Rainbow Bridge and One World. If this duo doesn’t excite you, then you have been sleeping on the moon.
Kenilworth Racing will hopefully grab the genuine free ticket opportunity to ride the wave and up the ante and hype in advance of the Cape Summer Of Champions.
Everybody’s talking about the duo, and it seems a generally accepted principle that ordinary people and punters want to come racing to see top horses.
“The fascinating aspect of an unbeaten horse is that he is well nigh impossible to assess as we don’t know what it actually takes to beat him,” said NHA Handicapper Matthew Lips in a chat with the Sporting Post.
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“We gave Rainbow Bridge a 104 after his Matchem win on Saturday. Last year’s winner Our Mate Art was the line horse. Eric Sands’ charge really looks exciting doesn’t he! And like good horses seem able to do, he wins over 1200m and a mile – and 1800m. He can set the pace. He can be dropped in and turn it on. The Ideal World progeny also seem to improve and they go ground too. I’d say he ticks all the boxes and could just about be anything. His test will naturally come when he takes on the Gr1 brigade. For now, he has done nothing wrong,” said the experienced racing expert.
Treble L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate champion Legal Eagle sets the standard for our premier mile race early in January off his rating of 123. But there are many stalwarts ready to wager that Rainbow Bridge will be taking the established champion and the rest on, relatively modest rating and all.
Langerman winner One World was another to sparkle at the country course on a good Saturday for the game.
The son of Captain Al dug deep to rally after being passed by the year older Kasimir in the dying stages of the Progress Plate. It was his fourth win and, like Rainbow Bridge, he remains undefeated.
There are suggestions that One World was flattered by the runner-up, who was returning from five months off, and tiring in the latter stages. But that is a niggle of stimulating gamesmanship from the world-class Snaith camp who have a few names of their own – like Oh Susanna and Do It Again, ready to burst the boom bubbles.
There was something to be impressed about with the manner in which One World has shown courage and fight at two of his victories.
His trainer Vaughan Marshall – what a horseman – is now on track for a Captain Al Cape Guineas treble after William Longsword (2016) and Tap O’Noth (2017). The Milnerton master won the Guineas with the trio’s sire, Captain Al, in 2000.
In today’s climate of more realistic sales prices, it is heartening that emerging stars like Rainbow Bridge and One World cost R300 000 and R425 000 respectively in the good old bad old days.
That just adds legs to the good story!