The Ridgemont-Highlands team celebrated a feature double at Kenilworth on Tuesday – and the second of their two winners looks to be one of the most exciting prospects we have seen in some time.
Winner of the Kuda R125 000 Gr3 Variety Club Stakes and unbeaten in three starts, the Potala Palace colt Katak is thought by his veteran trainer and internationally experienced jockey to potentially be one of the best horses in the country – even though he only won his first feature at his third jump on Tuesday against a bunch of locals off an MR of 84.
The Ridgemont-Highlands bred Katak, whose name signifies the eighth month of the Nanakshahi calendar, is a second crop son of Ridgemont-Highlands Singspiel Gr1 winner Potala Palace.
He is out the Windrush three time winner, Sapphire Silk.
When Domeyer turned on the jets at the 300m mark, Katak, well supported from 5-1 to 33-10, ran away from his opposition to win by 5,50 lengths under the hands in a time of 101,30 secs.
After Katak won his first start at any price, Piet Steyn said he had struggled to find owners for him – but stalwart Marsh Shirtliff eventually came to the party for a half share on the advice of jockey Bernard Fayd’herbe.
Good advice and Marsh is overdue to enjoy a good horse again after a quiet few years!
In 1981 Piet was 22 years old and the youngest licensed trainer in South Africa after having completed his indentures with the late legend, Peter Kannemeyer.
Over the years he has sent out hundreds of winners, with dozens of stakes winners including Queen’s Elect, Justerini and Double Vodka. He also ran second in the Durban July with Gitano.
Piet trained Sanshaawes, who was sold and exported, and continued his career with success in Dubai.
There was a turning point a few years ago when a combination of bad luck and circumstance saw him lose owners. The straight-shooting veteran horseman and former top amateur rider, admitted that training horses was as much about coaching the horses as about ‘kissing arse’, as he so succinctly put it.
And while he has never been great at being anything but straightforward, there is some irony in the fact that a man who has been one of his few mainstay supporters in the past few trying years is now his partner in what looks like a really smart horse.
Aldo Domeyer confirmed the bullish sentiment about Katak.
“Mr Steyn told me that he thinks he has one of the best horses in the country and I don’t feel that sentiment is out of place. Indeed I can’t wait for the summer season because that is when you are going to see the best of him – and he has everything he needs to go to the top.”
The Ridgemont-Highlands team have enjoyed a purple patch.
Wayne Kieswetter owns the winner of the Listed Sweet Chestnut Stakes, Sing Out Loud, bred by Ridgemont Highlands and who won earlier,
Katak is from the same famous Kieswetter farm, as is his sire Potala Palace, whose first two small crops of racing age have produced the likes of Gr1 sprinter Palace Chapel, feature race winner Dalai’s Promise, Gr3 BMW Politician Stakes runner up Senatla and Gr3 Man O’War Sprint second Russian Prince.
His second crop includes Katak, and also G3 Pretty Polly Stakes heroine Palace Of Dreams and Gr3 Strelitzia Stakes victress Singforafa.
Pencil the name Katak in. He looks like a happy and good story in the making