Tobie Spies’ Oratorio star 3yo Van Halen remains on track for a crack at the Cape Guineas in three week’s time.
This was confirmed to the Sporting Post on Sunday morning by stable spokesman Corne Spies after the Gr1 winner had finished a 10,20 length last in the Gr2 Cape Merchants on Saturday.
“After a run like that one is always nervous of what we will find the next morning. But I am pleased to say that he emptied the manger and is in the pink of health this morning. He is a tough and healthy horse. We must put it down to him simply having had an off day. We are all entitled to one I suppose,”laughed Corne.
The only 3yo in the Merchants field, Van Halen was coming off an eyecatching return victory at Turffontein on 18 October. That followed a five month rest after his sensational Gr1 Gold Medallion win over the soon to be exported Cue The Music at Scottsville in May.
“You asked ‘what happened?’. When posed the same question by his owners after a race, the late Roy Unsworth always used to say – ‘put your hands together and pray it never happens again!’ And that is what we are doing. We are taking a deep breath and sticking to the original plan. To find excuses we could look to the unknown that he could still be acclimatising and that it was his first run at Kenilworth. Horses make fools of men every day!”
Corne said that jockey Craig Zackey had wasted down to 52kgs to ride Van Halen.
“That’s genuine dedication and commitment and it is an indication as to how highly Craig rates him. We expected him to be competitive on Saturday. Things ddn’t work out. We are all disappointed,” he added.
Corne says that the Cape Guineas is shaping up into the race of the season after Hawwaam and One World produced top-class prep victories on Saturday.
“It’s always a tough high-quality contest. We believe Van Halen will stay the mile. They only get one crack at the Cape Guineas in a lifetime and we are going for it,” he said in closing.