The pace makes the race. Some of the races run at the Greyville night meeting on 19 July were seemingly infected by a dose of the ‘Cape Crawl’. This might win races for shrewd judges of pace in the jockey ranks but it doesn’t win too many friends amongst punters or disenchanted connections.
Mike De Kock has another very smart sort on his hands in the grey two year old daughter of Fort Wood, Ilha Bela, who overcame her 9 draw in the penultimate leg of the jackpot, to put in a gutsy winning performance in open company. The 1400m Spar Novice Plate had a quality look about it, with the favourite the 96 merit rated Legal Account, whom trainer Paul Lafferty tipped with confidence in the race preview. Lafferty’s daughter of Lake Coniston disappointed punters by running fourth, possibly beaten by the rather cleverly dictated sedentary pace set by the winner. The Drier filly Grammatica, who had drifted alarmingly in the betting, stayed on for second while the 100-1 outsider Grey Starling ran an unbelievable third off a merit rating of 66. Work it out, if you can.
Delpech drew first blood when he won the first race, a Maiden Juvenile Plate over a mile, on the 3-10 shot Seeking Angelo for Mike De Kock. This handsome and flashy chestnut, owned in the power partnership of Lammerskraal and Bernard Kantor, has his mother Angelina’s stamp about him and he drew off to win very easily after Anton Marcus had tried to poach it from the front on the Paul Peter trained Free The Tiger who stopped to nothing. Punters will remember the top-class Angelina who ran in the Kantor silks and was a Graded giant killer in her prime – downing her brilliant stablemates Escolita Fitz and Ilha Da Vitoria in the Paddock Stakes and the SA Fillies Classic, respectively.
Robbie Fradd is now well into the swing of things after just a fortnight of riding back on African racetracks, and he scored a great double on the evening. And it really should have been three! He rode the pacy Gilbert Werner-trained Magic Princess in the second race, a Maiden Plate over 1600m. The daughter of King Of Kings had been perfectly ridden from her wide draw, but inexplicably drifted right to the outside when looking all over a winner. Fradd had to sit and watch as Anton Marcus capitalised on this indiscretion by slipping the favourite Tacaloochee down the inside to win for Mike Miller and his longsstanding patron, the Baroness Bergsma of Longford.
Glen Kotzen unwittingly raised the ire of favourite backers when his coupling fought out the jackpot opener with the ‘wrong’ horse winning it for the majority of punters. Pistol Dawn had been backed in to 8-10 in a weak field but her jockey Anton Marcus didn’t reckon on the talent of the unheralded debutante Celebration who won at 45-1 under Warren Kennedy. The Summerhill Stud -bred daughter of Kahal is a half-sister to Oaks winner Salutation, and after taking a bump out of the gates, she hit the front early and fought off her opposition to win impressively. She is owned in partnership by Jeremy Jonsson and Summerhill Stud.
Apprentice Doctor Sifiso Lembethe rode a great race on the Muis Roberts-trained Zizou in the fifth race, an MR72 Handicap over 1600m, but had no luck as Anton Marcus got the heads up and down in his favour on the odds-on Warrior’s Walk, who led most of the way. The young apprentice moved up menacingly about 200m on the Roberts horse, but it was not to be, as Marcus showed just why he is close to lifting yet another jockey championship in under two weeks from now. He and Delpech ended the evening on a stalemate of two wins each.
Earlier in the day, the Vaal meeting held at Vereeniging produced some shocking results for punters. This was amply demonstrated by the exotic dividends, with the Jackpot paying R52640, the Pick Six R576 000, with R516 600 carried over and the PA a healthy R1860. Trainer Ian Jayes delivered a killer-blow when sending out the shock winner of the first leg of the jackpot. The daughter of Red Raider, Elegant Stride, won at double digit odds under Pilot-sponsored high -riding Randall Simons. Jayes voiced his frustration with the NHRA, whom he said was like ‘talking to a brick wall’. He said he had a three time winning filly who was merit-rated 50 and unable to qualify for a race.
The meeting saw the prompt return to winning ways of the brilliant Piere Strydom, who returned recently from a sojourn in the East. He obviously learnt something as he appropriately won the third race on a gelding called Chop Suey! Welcome back, Piere!