Yvette Bremner’s star Port Elizabeth-based 3yo National Park has developed something of a fan following since being bizarrely snubbed by a local awards panel and then travelling to the bright lights of Johannesburg to pull off a giantkilling act in the Gr3 Graham Beck Stakes last November.
And the son of Gimmethegreenlight did it again on Saturday – this time in the hands of Richard Fourie.
The flashy dark bay is the pride and joy of charismatic part-owner Hedley McGrath, who celebrated his charge’s superb victory in Saturday’s R1 million Gr2 Gauteng Guineas at Turffontein in the company of good friends at his PE home.
“Oh boy. Did you see that?” he asked when we contacted him to find out how he felt about his favourite son’s – he actually owns over 100 horses – big victory in the first leg of the SA Triple Crown.
“It’s unbelievable! In January Richard Fourie ran second behind National Park in his prep run at Fairview. We spoke in the unsaddling box. He was impressed. He said he wouldn’t be wanting to be chasing for second behind that handsome bum too often! I asked him if he’d like the ride in the Guineas. He said he would check with his wife, or something. I said – you want it – it’s yours. The rest is history – they weren’t tipping him and we set the record straight big time, didn’t we?”raved the thrilled Hedley.
He said the assembled group of Nicky Bartlett of Danika Stud – who raised National Park – and good friends Andre and Tilla Hauptfleisch, as well as his partner Yvette Bremner, had ‘screamed the house down’.
“You know the trainer hasn’t stopped crying since National Park passed the post. She and her team have done a great job. We are all so proud of our boy,” he said.
And so they should be.
Largely written off after his disappointing 7,40 length fourth behind Hawwaam in the Dingaans, National Park enjoyed his nine weeks on the coast and bounced back on Saturday with authority.
Richard Fourie, who had taken plenty of stick for his ride on Met favourite Do It Again a week earlier, was the consummate professional as he had National Park bowling along on the inside rail, tracking Arlington’s Revenge and Chijmes.
At the 500m Fourie made his move and National Park cruised into the lead, hard against the steel.
At the 300m it was how far as the gelding strode clear to beat the previously unbeaten and highly regarded Hawwaam by 2,70 lengths in a time of 99,25 secs.
The long rested Barahin came from last to grab third a further 2,10 lengths back with Zillzaal catching the eye in fourth.
All of the placed horses are bound to be major runners in the SA Classic in early March.
Richard Fourie said that when he cantered National Park down to the start he knew that his horse ‘belonged here’.
“He was going so well. In hindsight I may have hit the front too soon. I would have sat a bit longer. But now I know,” he added.
Assistant trainer Carl Hewitson saddled National Park and said that he put the Dingaans run down to an off day. “He enjoyed the break at home and it all worked out well he won with authority,” he said
A R240 000 National Yearling Sale purchase, the winner was bred by Knysna-based Rob Knuppe’s Missing U Syndicate, who also races the gelding in partnership with Hedley McGrath, Bryn Ressell and Mark Wright.
National Park is a son of Gimmethegreenlight (More Than Ready) out of six-time winner, Fancy Park (Camden Park).
National Park has won 6 races with 2 places from 11 starts for stakes of R1 050 400. The winner also banked the R102 500 BSA Added Value Stakes Bonus.
Gr2 Gauteng Guineas (SAf-Gr2)
Turffontein, South Africa, February 2, R1 million, 1600m, turf, soft, 1.39.25
1 – NATIONAL PARK (SAF), 60.0, b g 3, Gimmethegreenlight (AUS) – Fancy Park (SAF) by Camden Park (USA). Owner Messrs Bryn Ressell, F H McGrath, M C Wright & Missing U Syndicate (Nom: Mr R C Knuppe); Breeder Missing U Syndicate; trainer Y Bremner; jockey R Fourie
2 – Hawwaam (SAF), 60.0, b c 3, Silvano (GER) – Halfway To Heaven (SAF) by Jet Master (SAF)
3 – Barahin (SAF), 60.0, b c 3, Gimmethegreenlight (AUS) – Mocha Special (SAF) by Silvano (GER)
Margins: 2.70, 2.10, 0.50