Robbie Sage’s Judpot gelding Coral Fever crowned a purple patch for the Eastern Cape-based Ascot Stud when he stormed home in a thriller to win the R1 million Peermont Emperors Palace Gr2 Charity Mile at Turffontein on Saturday and set up a date with destiny in the Summer Cup on 1 December.
The Parker family were thrilled to strike gold just last weekend with their home-bred champion Rock Opera becoming the first SA-bred mare to produce a Gr1 winner on French soil courtesy of Royal Meeting in the Criterium International at Chantilly.
And it was bulls-eye again for the leading Stud as the never-say-die Coral Fever lumped his 61kgs to a glorious victory over a trip short of his best
On a day of testing results, Coral Fever’s rousing finish from third last into the home straight was an arrow through the heart for all but 24 live Pick 6 tickets, as he made light of his impost in a great finish to deny Tilbury Fort victory on the line.
The pacemaking Champagne Haze and Full Mast led the charge at the 350m marker, but with a stampede the length and breadth of the track, any one of ten runners could win inside the 200m.
Just as Lyle Hewitson burst his way through a gap with Tilbury Fort and looked a winner, the current national log leader Muzi Yeni came charging down the outside with a winding left-handed crop as Coral Fever dived for the line.
A winner a stride before and a stride after the past, Tilbury Fort was relegated by a nose as Coral Fever lunged with all his heart to gain an unlikely victory in a time of 96,26 secs.
Doosra showed he may actually just get the mile as he hung on for a 0,35 length third ahead of Arctica, who rounded off a handsome R24 507 quartet payout.
Current Summer Cup favourite Noble Secret failed to kick and he finished a 4,20 length ninth.
The defending champion Hat Puntano ran stone last.
The beneficiary charity was the Khangezile Primary School, while South African actor, Pallance Dladla best known as the runner-up of the second season of the SABC1 reality competition television series Class Act, in 2011, was the winning celebrity.
Coral Fever, a Gr1 winner of the President’s Champions Challenge, ran third behind Liege in the 2017 Summer Cup and his price is bound to shorten for the big race in December.
A R130 000 National Yearling Sale graduate, the Ascot Stud-bred Coral Fever races for Colin Bird and Sylvia Vrska – he was their first Gr1 winner in over 40 years of racing – and is a son of Judpot (AP Indy) out of the two-time winner, Coral Tree (Rich Man’s Gold).
Coral Fever has now won 7 races with 7 places from 21 starts for stakes of R4 220 650.
Sharon Patterson’s Bayshore Barn, who backed and pre-trained Coral Fever as a youngster, deserve a mention too in a great day for the Robbie Sage yard.
Now bring on the Summer Cup
Gr2 Emperors Palace Charity Mile (SAf-Gr2)
Turffontein, South Africa, November 3, R1 million, 1600m, turf, good, 1.36.26
1 – CORAL FEVER (SAF), 61.0, ch g 6, Judpot (USA) – Coral Tree (SAF) by Rich Man’s Gold (USA). Owner Ms Sylvia Vrska & Mr Colin Bird; Breeder Ascot Stud; trainer RR Sage; jockey M Yeni
2 – Tilbury Fort (SAF), 53.5, b g 5, Horse Chestnut (SAF) – Colleen (SAF) by Restructure
3 – Doosra (SAF), 53.0, b g 5, Captain Al (SAF) – Caughtintheslips (SAF) by Caesour (USA)
Margins: 0.05, 0.30, 0.20