Ridgemont Highlands’ former multiple champion rider Anton Marcus could not have written a better script for the return of South African racing as he came away from Hollywoodbets Greyville’s opening meeting on Monday with five winners.
The ten-race programme, our first local fun since 26 March, was held under blue skies.
Trainers Garth Puller, Glen Kotzen and Brett Crawford enjoyed a double apiece to break the ice quickly in advance of this weekend’s SA Champions Season launch on Sunday.
Tabnews reports that the Marcus glory run began in Race 2 where he rode a typically forceful finish to carry Brett Crawford-trained Hopskipandjump (53-20) over the line. He was back in the winner’s enclosure after Races 3 and 4, winning aboard Fred (22-10), also for Crawford and first-timer Fast Love (7-2) for Glen Kotzen.
Fast Love drifted from an opening call of 5-2 but produced a torpedo-like finish to win easily by 2.50 lengths. This one looks worth following.
Favourite Fade To Black found himself behind a wall of horses at the 200m mark and, with no chance of getting a run, did not disgrace himself when beaten 5.05 lengths. He is worthy of a second chance in similar company.
Marcus rode another strong finish to win Race 7 on Farland (5-2) for Doug Campbell and then closed off the meeting with a comfortable 1.20-length victory on 18-10 favourite Winter Chill, which gave trainer Garth Puller a double on the day.
Sadly, for log-leading jockey Warren Kennedy it was a day bereft of winners, although he got awfully close on Hexatonic in Race 5. Unfortunately his mount went down 0.40 lengths to 20-1 shot Final Attempt, his stable companion ridden by apprentice Khanya Sakayi. Both runners are trained by Kotzen.
Race 1 did not go the way of the punters as Tromso, trained by Johan Janse van Vuuren and ridden by 4kg claiming apprentice Thabiso Gumede, got up close home to touch off odds-on favourite Thomas Henry by 0.40 lengths.
Tromso paid R21.70 for a win and R4.70 a place.
All the rules pertaining to social distancing were carefully observed. Presenter Warren Lenferna wore a Perspex mask with both jockey and assistant trainer Pat Lunn also suitably attired.
Considering all the betting shops and TABS were all still closed, the Pick 6 pool did well to reach R296 676 but the results did not all go the way of the bettors and it resulted in a carryover of R189 732.