Gaynor Rupert’s Drakenstein Stud dominated proceedings on the opening day of the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Festival on a glorious Cape summer’s afternoon at Kenilworth on Friday when they bred and owned the winners of both feature races.
While trainer’s wife Kathi Kotzen and Tlhomamo Diamond walked off with the Cartier Best Dressed lady and gentleman award, the blue and white flag of the leading South African breeders celebrated success on the track in the R400 000 Cartier Gr2 Sceptre Stakes (Clouds Unfold) and the Listed Jamaica Handicap (Princess Irene).
With the Snaith Racing Team consigned to having to return on Saturday to make up for a very rare blank day, the feature honours were shared by Brett Crawford and Candice Bass-Robinson, the latter registering a commendable third consecutive success in the Sceptre Stakes.
Proving a popular banker, with the Pick 6 still managing to deliver a mouthwatering R131 325 dividend, the 3yo Clouds Unfold was ridden with confidence by regular pilot Aldo Domeyer, who dropped her in and shifted her inwards from her wide outside draw, as Casual Diamond and Anneka carted them along.
At the 40mm marker, Richard Fourie bounced the fast improving Juniper Spring into what looked a possible match winning lead grab.
But Domeyer was not flustered and he got the athletic chestnut gradually into stride on the middle outside strip and she lengthened beautifully to put 0,30 lengths between herself and the promising Snaith filly at the line.
The winner’s time was 71,15 secs with her year older stablemate Freedom Charter coming out of the pack a further 2,25 lengths away in third.
Fresh back from her successful Gauteng campaign, the ever gallant Rose In Bloom stayed on well for fourth.
The first filly to win the Cape Of Good Hope Nursery since Empress Crown ten years ago, the Drakenstein Stud-bred Clouds Unfold is a daughter of Equus champion sprinter What A Winter (Western Winter), out of Montelissima, a Montjeu half-sister to Listed Summer Juvenile Stakes winner Arria and Gr2 Senor Santa Stakes third Pivotal Pursuit.
Clouds Unfold’s second dam Issa is a full-sister to unbeaten Yorkshire Oaks winner Catchascatchcan, dam of Breeders’ Cup Mile winner and former Highlands Stud sire Antonius Pius.
The promising 3yo has won 5 races with 1 place from 7 starts for stakes of R833 125.
What A Winter has 12 lots on the Cape Premier Yearling Sale on 23 January.
Day 2 starts at 13h00 on Saturday!
Gr2 Sceptre Stakes (SAf-Gr2)
Kenilworth, South Africa, January 4, R400k, 1200m, turf, good, 1.11.15
1 – CLOUDS UNFOLD (SAF), 57.5, ch f 3, What A Winter (SAF) – Montelissima (IRE) by Montjeu (IRE). Owner Drakenstein Stud (Nom: Mrs G A Rupert); Breeder Drakenstein Stud; trainer C Bass-Robinson; jockey A Domeyer
2 – Juniper Spring (SAF), 56.5, b f 3, Captain Al (SAF) – Spring Lilac (SAF) by Joshua Dancer (USA)
3 – Freedom Charter (SAF), 60.0, ch f 4, Elusive Fort (SAF) – Betty Burke (SAF) by Captain Al (SAF)
Margins: 0.30, 2.25, 0.40