A dashing son of an internationally proven sire out of a Gr1 darling of the Cape turf, the 4yo Mardi Gras is a horse going places and he registered his biggest win with an eyecatching victory in the Gr2 Senor Santa Stakes at Turffontein on Saturday.
On a memorable afternoon for many folk associated with the handsome 4yo grey gelding, including jockey Randall Simons, who was registering his fourth winner of the meeting, and a large group of enthusiastic owners who had put their money down in double quick time after the former Mayfair Speculators galloper had – according to trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren – failed a scope en route to Mauritius, Mardi Gras’ grinding display of power also marked the first leg of a terrific feature double for his champion sire, Oratorio.
A breathless Avontuur GM Pippa Mickleburgh screamed the gelding home amid loadshedding and the drone of generators on the magnificent Stellenbosch farm where the standout foal first saw the light of day on 11 October 2014.
“Wow. That was impressive. He is versatile and very smart. I’m so glad for all the owners and trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren. And what a feature double for Oratorio on the afternoon!” she said as her son of Danehill, imported to add a new dimension to the champion Var and with the aim of producing classic and Met or July winners, continues his roll of winners.
“The Oratorio’s can only get better with time. So it’s very exciting,” said Pippa.
Facing his first big test and dropping marginally in ground after two good wins over 1200m, Mardi Gras raced prominently for the first half of the race behind Romi’s Boy and Down To Zero.
At the 500m it was clear that nothing was going better and the 4yo simply pulled his in-form jockey into the lead before drawing clear with a measure of authority to beat the gallant Prince Of Kahal in a time of 65.65 secs.
The Sean Tarry mare Exquisite Touch made up many lengths inside the 200m and stormed through to grab third ahead of another daughter of Var in the year younger Schippers, who ran a cracker.
The favourite Cirillo was never sighted and finished downfield.
Mardi Gras, who is likely to be aimed at the Gr1 Tsogo Sun Sprint at Scottsville on 25 May, has won 6 races with 5 places from 13 starts for stakes of R719 527.
Originally the joint top-seller at R3,2 million at the 2016 Emperors Palace Select Yearling Sale, he changed hands following the Mayfair Speculators unbundling.
Bred by Avontuur, he is a son of champion racehorse Oratorio (Danehill) out of the classy Gr1 winner Sarabande, a powerful daughter of Goldmark, who won six races in the care of Joey Ramsden from a mile to 2000m.
A triple Gr1 winner and dual champion sire in Italy, Oratorio has two fillies on offer at Sunday’s Cape Yearling Sale, and he also has a large, quality draft on offer at this year’s National Sale in April.
Oratorio’s 18 strong National Sale draft includes a half-sister (Lot 250) to Gr1 winner King Of Pain, a half-brother (Lot 337) to July winning champion Big City Life, and a filly (Lot 344) out of Cape Fillies Guineas winner Emerald Beauty.
Gr2 Senor Santa Stakes (SAf-Gr2)
Turffontein, South Africa, March 16, R400k, 1160m, turf, good, 1.05.65
1 – MARDI GRAS (SAF), 54.0, gr g 4, Oratorio (IRE) – Sarabande (SAF) by Goldmark (SAF). Owner Messrs J Nassif, Andre Fouche, A Joannides, M Liontarides, G J Nassif, Z L Nassif, L & W Zackey & Mrs H Kuhn; Breeder Avontuur Farm; trainer JAJ v Vuuren; jockey R Simons
2 – Prince Of Kahal (SAF), 54.0, ch g 4, Kahal (GB) – Vogue (SAF) by Model Man (SAF)
3 – Exquisite Touch (SAF), 51.5, b m 5, Var (USA) – Lavender Sky (SAF) by Elliodor (FR)
Margins: 2.50, 1.25, 0.50