The last time Piere Strydom partnered a Sean Tarry horse in the SA Oaks there were a few less smiles than we saw on the winner’s podium at Turffontein on Saturday.
The year was 2015 and Tarry’s Triple Tiara candidate Siren’s Call was beaten in the shadow of the post by Anthony Delpech and Pine Princess.
But that’s all history now and the champion duo, who have endured the inevitable ups and downs of a tough game, were victorious after the smashing R20 000 bargain buy Return Flight had slammed her rivals to win the R750 000 Wilgerbosdrift Gr2 SA Oaks.
With instructions to ride Return Flight economically in view of her stamina uncertainty, Piere Strydom found himself searching for plan B as he pinged the gates and found himself in front.
“She jumped well. I looked around. There was nobody there. I thought I would have to lead. But then Craig Zackey came around me on Seville Orange and I was happy to sit second. She followed the leader and when I asked her, it was race over. She is a lovely filly!”
The Oaks was not run in a rush. Return Flight’s winning time of 161,78 secs was over 2 secs slower than the SA Derby run a half hour later
The eventual favourite Blossom, ridden by replacement rider Luke Ferraris, would not have enjoyed the sedentary pace but came out of the pack to run second, ahead of the game Seville Orange.
Owner Chris van Niekerk said he felt a ‘pang of guilt’ every time reference was made to the R20 000 he paid for her at the CTS 2017 March Yearling Sale.
Return Flight was bred by Mike Sharkey and is out of the four-time winner Heading Home (Special Preview).
She has won three Gr1’s in her 5 wins with 4 places from 10 starts and took her career earnings to R1 898 475.
Return Flight won both the second and third leg of the SA Triple Tiara after missing the Guineas first leg in view of fitness concerns.
The daughter of Pomodoro will now go for the Gr2 Gerald Rosenberg at Turffontein on 4 May and the Gr1 Woolavington at Greyville on 1 June.
Pomodoro has seven lots on the National Yearling Sale on 24,25 and 26 April.
Gr2 SA Oaks (SAf-Gr2)
Turffontein, South Africa, March 30, R750k, 2450m, turf, good, 2.41.78
1 – RETURN FLIGHT (SAF), 60.0, b f 3, Pomodoro (SAF) – Heading Home (SAF) by Special Preview (SAF). Owner Mr C J H Van Niekerk; Breeder M Sharkey; trainer SG Tarry; jockey P Strydom
2 – Blossom (SAF), 60.0, b f 3, Silvano (GER) – Cherry On The Top (SAF) by Tiger Ridge (USA)
3 – Seville Orange (SAF), 60.0, ch f 3, Duke Of Marmalade (IRE) – Serruria (GB) by Galileo (IRE)
Margins: 1.80, 1.10, 1.10