Sean Tarry’s Vercingetorix colt Ikigai set a poser for the SA Triple Crown forecasters when he cruised to victory in the first leg, the R1 million Gr2 Gauteng Guineas, at Turffontein on Wednesday evening.
While he is bred to stay beyond the 1800m of the second leg SA Classic, trainer Sean Tarry observed that the 3yo would be ‘at home in the Computaform Sprint’!
Winning rider, apprentice Luke Ferraris also expressed some doubts about a more testing trip, saying that Ikigai was ‘quite keen’. But talk is cheap and time will tell and at this stage, the 2450m of the SA Derby is a lifetime away.
The victory by the handsome chestnut signalled a feature double on the evening for the Tarry-Ferraris-Van Niekerk-Klawervlei combination after Silver God won the Listed Wolf Power 1600 earlier.
A promising sort, Ikigai had largely been kept under wraps by Tarry until winning the Gr3 Tony Ruffel Stakes in early January, whereafter the handicappers sat up and gave him an overdue MR hike from 98 to a 114.
On Wednesday evening, he went through the motions and, starting a popular 22-10 favourite, beat the De Kock grey Frosted Gold (4-1) by 1,75 lengths in a time of 97,99 secs.
Recent Gr3 Sea Cottage Stakes winner Green Laser (16-1) won the hard-fought race for third a further two lengths adrift, with the always thereabouts Astrix (22-1) a neck back in fourth.
Al Borak appeared to clip heels at about the 800m marker and unseated Denis Schwarz, who was on his way to hospital for observations after the race. There was no news on the condition of the promising gelding.
Ikigai is from the first crop of the exciting Maine Chance stallion Vercingetorix (coincidentally bred by Klawervlei) out of the one-time winning Al Mufti mare, Al Shiba. Ikigai is thus bred on a similar cross to the Silvano sired Gr1 winners Al Sahem, Bold Silvano, and Kings Gambit.
Ikigai has won 4 races with 2 places from 6 starts for stakes of R854 375.
The R6-million SA Triple Crown for 3-year-olds is the richest series of races in Africa.
The second leg is the R1,5 million Gr1 SA Classic run over 1800m on the Turffontein Standside on Saturday 7 March.
The third leg is the R1,5 million Gr1 SA Derby run over 2450m on the Turffontein Standside on Saturday 4 April.
A bonus of R2 million will be paid to the owners of the horse that wins all three legs of the SA Triple Crown.