The R110 000 East Cape Poly Challenge first leg produced the finish of the afternoon at Fairview on Monday when the favourite Juan Two Three led all the way to hold on by the proverbial whisker.
Ridgemont Racing jockey Greg Cheyne knows the 6yo son of Var like the back of his hand and he had no hesitation in taking him out to lead the pack – a brave move considering the gelding was returning from a nine month break.
Inside the final 200m, the challenges came from all round but Juan Two Three dug deep – until Charles Ndlovu set his stablemate Breakfast Club alight.
The former KZN based son of Visionaire ate up the ground – failing only by the shortest of short heads to grab what would have been an heroic victory.
But the only heroes in the end were the local champion jockey and the gallant gelding who kept punters smiling to win in a time of 70.57 secs. It was also a terrific training feat by Alan Greeff to get the smart galloper back and ready to run such a magnificent race.
Pacific Spirit ran on best of the rest for third.
Bred by the Haras Del Carmo Close Corporation, Juan Two Three is a R260 000 National Yearling Sale graduate who has banked over R743 000 in 20 starts with 11 wins and 5 places.
A son of perennial stalwart Var (Forest Wildcat) he is out of the six-time winning Counter Action mare, Counterpoise.
This was the first leg of the R610 000 East Cape Poly Challenge and it will be interesting to see whether Juan Two Three arrives for the second leg – the R110 000 WSB East Cape Poly Challenge 1400 (Non-Black Type) to be run over 1400m on Friday 12 April. The final leg, the R110 000 WSB East Cape Poly Challenge 1600 (Non-Black Type) is run over 1600m on Friday 10 May.
A bonus of R250 000 will be paid to owner of the horse that wins all three legs of the, while a consolation bonus of R50 000 will be paid for the horse acquiring the most points in the event of there not being a winner of all three legs. The only condition is that to qualify, the horse must run in all three legs.
5% of the bonus will be paid to winning trainer/s, 5% to the winning jockey/s and 0.5% to the winning groom.
Horses that participate in both 1st and 2nd legs of the Eastern Cape Poly Challenge will not be subject to the payment of Entry and Declaration Fees in the 3rd leg.