Trainer Sean Tarry broke Candice Bass-Robinson’s stranglehold on the Cartier Gr2 Sceptre Stakes at Kenilworth on Friday as the Captain Al filly Celtic Sea streaked to a popular victory under joint topweight in the 1200m feature.
Having only her second start at the scenic Cape Southern Suburbs track, Celtic Sea, another Sporting Post best handicapped nominee to win on the day, looked in terrific shape on her way down to post and came back even better.
Hitting the front at the 350m under a confident Gavin Lerena, the favourite Celtic Sea (1-1) looked to come under momentary pressure around the 200m, but was going far too well and went right away from her field to beat defending champion and market rival Clouds Unfold (easy to back at 9-2) by 2,50 lengths in a time of 70,69 secs.
KZN visitor Golden Chance (12-1) ran a well-beaten but meritorious third for Dennis Drier a further three lengths back, with the game Third Runway (7-1) a touch outpaced but earning again in fourth.
“She did it the hard way. I heard them coming at the 200m, but she was too good. Two rides. Two winners. I am happy to go home,” declared a triumphant Gavin Lerena.
Trainer Sean Tarry, who only had the one runner on the day, now finds himself spoilt for choice in the Cape Flying Championship or the Majorca Stakes on Sun Met day.
He suggested that he was leaning towards running Celtic Sea in the sprint – where she could bump defending champ Kasimir and the unbeaten Run Fox Run.
“Thanks to my team down here in the Cape and to owner Antony Beck for having the patience and confidence. People don’t realise what it takes to get a horse down from Joburg to compete in the season. And to Wilgerbosdrift and Mauritzfontein who bred such a smart horse. I cannot believe the difference in Celtic Sea today to the yearling at the sale!” said the SA Champion trainer.
Abe Mahlangu represented the Beck family and thanked Gaynor Rupert and her team for the wonderful day.
Bred by Wilgerbosdrift and Mauritzfontein, the Equus champion filly of last season, Celtic Sea is by Captain Al (Al Mufti), who is nearing his century of stakes winners, out of the two-time winner Ireland (Mark Of Esteem).
A R325 000 National Yearling Sale graduate, the multiple Gr1 winner took her stakes total to R2 536 287 with 8 wins and 7 places from her 19 starts.
On a generally tough day for punters, the Pick 6 paid over R403 000 off a pool of R1 112 141.
The LQP Festival continues at Kenilworth – Day 2 is off at 13h00 on Saturday.
Gr2 Sceptre Stakes (SAf-Gr2)
Kenilworth, South Africa, January 10, R350k, 1200m, turf, good, 1.10.69
1 – CELTIC SEA (SAF), 60.0, b f 4, Captain Al (SAF) – Ireland (BRZ) by Mark Of Esteem (IRE). Owner Mr A R & Mrs A B L Beck; Breeder Wilgerbosdrift & Mauritzfontein; trainer SG Tarry; jockey G Lerena
2 – Clouds Unfold (SAF), 60.0, ch f 4, What A Winter (SAF) – Montelissima (IRE) by Montjeu (IRE)
3 – Golden Chance (SAF), 58.0, b f 4, Dynasty (SAF) – Free Gold (SAF) by Goldkeeper (USA)
Margins: 2.50, 3.00, 0.40