The Oratorio gelding Van Halen can pace it with the best of them on his day and caught punters wrong -footed when he bounced back from a dismal Cape summer campaign to win the R250 000 Gr3 Man O’War Sprint at Turffontein on Saturday.
A Gr1 winner as a 2yo, the flying gelding with the rockstar name just never adjusted to the Cape and produced four moderate runs to scribble an early blotch on his 3yo career that had started so promisingly with an opening victory in an Assessment Plate in October.
But on Saturday he stepped back into the limelight to give up-and-coming young apprentice Denis Schwarz a well deserved Gr3 feature double after he had steered
“I got stuck in a pocket at the 400m and was hoping for a gap. I saw them getting tired at the 300m and then though that I had a shout. He pulled me through and quickened up well,”said an elated Denis Schwarz.
Trainer Tobie Spies said that he was concerned about the altitude adjustment but that turned out to be unfounded.
Finishing with a flourish, Van Halen stormed clear to beat the pacy Russian Prince by 0,30 lengths in a time of 63,27 secs.
Chimichuri Run was 0,40 lengths back in third, with the favourite Mighty High suffering traffic issues and finishing out of the money.
Trained by Tobie Spies, Van Halen has won 4 races with 3 places from 13 starts for stakes of R8 22 562.
He was a R100 000 graduate at the 2017 Cape Premier Yearling Sale.
The well related Van Halen was bred by Limpo Retail and is out of the one-time winner Rock Concert. The latter, a daughter of Lecture, is a full-sister to another Spies-trained star in Rock Opera, who is out of Drummer Girl (Al Mufti). This family has served the Spies’ well and the latter was unbeaten in South Africa, winning the Gr2 SA Nursery and the Gr1 Allan Robertson Championship. Exported to Dubai, she placed third in the Listed UAE Guineas for the late Sheik Rashid.
At stud, Rock Opera produced the 11-time winner Heavy Metal (GB) by Exceed and Excel, whose successes included a Gr2 in the UK. He ran in Saturday’s Godolphin Mile.
The Oratorio progeny are proving versatile and progressive – and this success came just a fortnight after the Avontuur based son of Danehill sired feature double at the same venue when Mardi Gras (Gr2 Senor Santa Stakes) and Divine Odyssey (Listed Drum Star Handicap) were victorious.
Oratorio has 18 lots on the National Yearling Sale.
Gr3 Man O’ War Sprint (SAf-Gr3)
Turffontein, South Africa, March 30, R250k, 1100m, turf, good, 1.03.27
1 – VAN HALEN (SAF), 58.0, b g 3, Oratorio (IRE) – Rock Concert (SAF) by Lecture (USA). Owner Messrs F N Englezakis, R P Macnab, A Pawson & F van Wyk; Breeder Limpo Retail; trainer T Spies; jockey D Schwarz
2 – Russian Prince (SAF), 56.0, b g 3, Potala Palace (SAF) – Minski (SAF) by Jallad (USA)
3 – Chimichuri Run (SAF), 60.0, ch c 3, Trippi (USA) – Spiced Gold (SAF) by Kahal (GB)
Margins: 0.30, 0.40, 0.30