The R750 000 Wilgerbosdrift Gr2 Gauteng Fillies Guineas produced the finish of the afternoon at Turffontein on Saturday with a well-bred Australian filly getting the better of her R30 000 home-bred rival in a ding dong tussle to the first leg of the SA Triple Tiara.
KZN-based father-to-be Warren Kennedy is one of the most underrated riders around but he showed his strength and balance on Nafaayes, who got the better of the dogged Running Brave and Devin Habib, to score a second consecutive feature success after winning the Gr2 Ipi Tombe Stakes on Summer Cup day last year.
With Saints Alive making the running ahead of Dagmar and Running Brave, Kennedy had Nafaayes relaxed about 6 lengths off the gallop.
Into the home run, the field gradually fanned out and Nafaayes and Running Brave came together.
With the pendulum swinging both ways, Nafaayes slugged it out all the way to the wire with Running Brave refusing to lie down.
At the line Warren Kennedy extricated every ounce of energy out of the Aussie bred 3yo to get the verdict by a head. No time has been published.
The slow starting Celtic Sea ran a gutsy race 1,30 lengths back with Ronnie’s Candy running into fourth.
A slight disappointment of the race would have to be the winner’s stablemate, Three Troikas winner Storm Destiny, who moved up dangerously but faded out to run 6 lengths behind the winner.
Trainer Mike de Kock said that Nafaayes had beaten older fillies at weight-for-age last time, which explained her high rating. “This was another good win for her because she’s had a two-month layoff and she felt it near the end today. The 1800m of the Fillies Classic will be okay for her, probably just within her reach, but beyond that we’d be stretching it.”
An A$350,000 Inglis Easter purchase for Shadwell, Nafaayes was bred and consigned for sale by Kia Ora Stud and is the first winner for US Gr3 winner Decelerator (USA), a daughter of leading shuttle sire Dehere.
The Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum owned Nafaayes, now a winner of 4 races with 2 places from 6 starts has earned R904 250 and is the 151st stakes-winner worldwide for Darley’s champion sire Exceed and Excel.
Gr2 Gauteng Fillies Guineas (SAf-Gr2)
Turffontein, South Africa, February 2, R750k, 1600m, turf, soft, 1.39.97
1 – NAFAAYES (AUS), 60.0, b f 3, Exceed And Excel (AUS) – Decelerator (USA) by Dehere (USA). Owner Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum; Breeder bred in Australia; trainer MF de Kock; jockey W Kennedy
2 – Running Brave (SAF), 60.0, b f 3, Brave Tin Soldier (USA) – Movingandgrooving (SAF) by Jet Master (SAF)
3 – Celtic Sea (SAF), 60.0, b f 3, Captain Al (SAF) – Ireland (BRZ) by Mark Of Esteem (IRE)
Margins: 0.05, 1.30, 0.10