When the rains came and forced a move of the meeting to the twilight zone on a sleepy Turffontein Sunday, the R250 000 Gr3 Tommy Hotspur Handicap lived up to the expectations of a curved ball result – and it came in the form of the Mike and Adam Azzie coupling’s lesser fancied Down To Zero.
Rescheduled from its Saturday slot to a rare Sunday evening, the weather gods finally played ball and confirmed the Phumelela decision in a tough week that saw SA racing lose four fixtures in total.
The scratching of Red Chesnut Road (blood disorder) and Chantyman (Stipes permission) had the 1000m feature field reduced to 14 runners on the soft track.
With the pace on from the gun, Keanan Steyn had Great Shaka bowling along out front ahead of Rocky Valley, Down To Zero and Rivarine.
Prince Of Kahal moved up strongly at the 300m as Rivarine looked dangerous down the outside and Down To Zero maintained a solid pace.
But riding a superbly judged race, Marco van Rensburg kept the 20-1 shot Down To Zero interested and he came forward strongly to score a hard earned 0,30 length win in a time of 57,51 secs.
The consistent Prince Of Kahal stayed on well for second and must be overdue for his sixth win as he maintains a solid form profile.
The topweighted Rebel’s Champ showed no after-effects of his long Cape journey and after getting tight down the outside rail, rattled on well late in the race for third 1,80 lengths further back, with Donny G taking the quartet into another dividend zone in fourth.
The 15-4 favourite Rivarine, stablemate to the winner, showed pace in his newly fitted blinkers but failed to go on with his run. He has really never enjoyed the softer ground and could do no better than fifth.
The pacemaker Great Shaka faded out to seventh and 3,50 lengths off the winner.
Bred by the Sorrento Stud supremo Terry Andrews, Down To Zero is a son of the very versatile Judpot (A.P.Indy) out of the one-time winner Armatrading (Var).
A R220 000 2016 CTS March Yearling sale buy to the bid of trainer Mike Azzie, the winner took his earnings to R512 750 with his 4th win and 8 places from 16 starts.
Gr3 Tommy Hotspur Handicap (SAf-Gr3)
Turffontein, South Africa, February 17, R250k, 1000m, turf, soft, 57.51
1 – DOWN TO ZERO (SAF), 55.5, b g 4, Judpot (USA) – Armatrading (SAF) by Var (USA). Owner Messrs P J Cotterell, A D Carr & J A Carr; Breeder TD Andrews; trainer MG & AA Azzie; jockey M v Rensburg
2 – Prince Of Kahal (SAF), 55.5, ch g 4, Kahal (GB) – Vogue (SAF) by Model Man (SAF)
3 – Rebel’s Champ (SAF), 62.0, ch g 4, Rebel King (SAF) – Anne Bonny (SAF) by Captain Al (SAF)
Margins: 0.30, 1.80, 0.20