Veteran Milnerton trainer Eric Sands put the disappointment of a narrow defeat in the Sun Met last month behind him when his defending champion Rainbow Bridge’s relatively unexposed Philanthropist half-brother Golden Ducat took his own step up in class to win the R1 million ARF Commemorative Gr1 Cape Derby At Kenilworth on Saturday.
The Derby has been a race of generally good fortune for the master tactician.
He won it in 1988 when Basil Marcus steered Jungle Warrior to a runaway win and again in 2001 when Karl Neisius got Grand Jete home.
He was less fortunate in 2006 when Moneybags lost the race to Floatyourboat in the boardroom.
But on Saturday that was all modern history.
In the aftermath of the disappointing withdrawal of the favourite, the Hong Kong-bound Viva Rio, a plan came together for Sands after a relatively flawless preparation for the well-related Golden Ducat, who answered all the questions asked of him in fine style.
Sands had conceded in an interview with the Sporting Post in the build-up week that he was ‘still in the dark’ with the one-time winning Golden Ducat, who was having only his fifth start and his first beyond a mile.
Moving up fluently from back of midfield early on down the centre with 400m to go, as the leaders fell away and with Snaith’s Sachdev (33-4) looking menacing in a bid to shed his bridesmaid tag, Golden Ducat (10-1) ranged alongside the Snaith gelding and asserted his authority, with Craig Zackey granted the liberty of a salute at the line.
The winning margin was a half length and the winner clocked 125,51 secs.
The consistent Super Silvano (33-4) stayed on best of the Brett Crawford trio 2,75 lengths back in third, with Parterre (14-1) in fourth.
The favourite Silver Host (7-4) ran just behind Kannemeyer’s Azores, finishing a 5,20 length sixth.
The rest were outclassed and the day belonged to Sands Racing and the Wilgerbosdrift and Mauritzfontein team, who also sponsor winning rider, Craig Zackey.
The young Gauteng-based rider was winning his third Gr1 of the Cape Summer Season after Missisippi Burning in the Cape Fillies Guineas and Vardy’s sensational L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate victory.
Zackey was piloting Golden Ducat for the first time on Saturday and described him as a ‘big strapping fellow with a great action’. He said that his mount had ‘turned it on beautifully’.
The Joburg born Eric ‘Oubie’ Sands has been training horses for 37 years and has astutely won the Derby previously by avoiding features with an immature horse.
Sands paid tribute to his owners and staff, and gave a special mention of Devin Ashby, who had done plenty of work on Golden Ducat.
The handsome Philanthropist gelding is the third Gr1 winner after Rainbow Bridge (Ideal World) and Hawwam (Silvano) produced by our champion broodmare, Halfway To Heaven, a stakes-winning daughter of Jet Master who was also trained by Eric Sands, before being sold and moving to Mike de Kock.
Three foals by three different sires, three runners, three Gr1 winners.
Halfway To Heaven is out of the Rambo Dancer mare Pas De Basque and is inbred 3×3 to Northern Dancer. Her breeder and original owner Gavin Walker was on course on Saturday to enjoy one of those truly rare family moments in racing.
Golden Ducat’s sire Philanthopist is a son of Kris S. He commenced stud duties in Canada in 2006 and became classic champion sire there and was also a leading all-weather sire in North America. He took up duties at Drakenstein in 2012.
Golden Ducat, who has now won twice with three places from his five starts for stakes of R696 250, never made it to the sales arena as he injured his hock as a youngster. There have never been any guarantees after his injury that he would stand up to training, and the gelding’s progress is a tribute to Sands’ horsemanship.
We asked Eric, admittedly vaguely, last Thursday whether Golden Ducat was over his issues.
“No, he will die with them. But he is fit and well,” he chirped dryly. How bloody right he was!
Halfway To Heaven has a Silvano full-brother to Hawwaam on the National Yearling Sale. That’s something to look forward to – assuming you have the cheque book to match the passion.
The Stipes excerpt:
Jockey A Marcus was charged with a contravention of Rule 21.7 in that he accepted to ride both CANE LIME AND SODA and GOLDEN DUCAT. Jockey Marcus signed an Admission of Guilt and was fined R1000,00.
Jockey B Fayd’Herbe was charged with a contravention of Rule 58.10.2 (read with Guideline M on the use of the crop) in that he struck PARTERRE more than 12 times in the entire race. Jockey Fayd’Herbe signed an admission of guilt and was fined R 2500,00. In deciding on penalty, the Stewards took into account Jockey Fayd’Herbe’s poor recent record with regards to contraventions of this Rule as well as the number of blows over the permissible level.
Jockey A Marcus was charged with a contravention of Rule 58.10.2 (read with Guideline M on the use of the crop) in that he struck CANE LIME AND SODA more than 12 times (13) in the entire race.Jockey Marcus signed an admission of guilt and was fined R 1000,00.
In view of the performance of SILVER HOST (R Fourie) (Betting 7/4 : Distance 5.20), the veterinary surgeon was requested to examine this gelding.
Gr1 Cape Derby (SAf-Gr1)
Kenilworth, South Africa, February 22, R1 million, 2000m, turf, good, 2.05.51
1 – GOLDEN DUCAT (SAF), 60.0, ch g 3, Philanthropist (USA) – Halfway To Heaven (SAF) by Jet Master (SAF). Owner Wilgerbosdrift (Pty) Ltd (Nom: Mrs M Slack); Breeder Wilgerbosdrift & Mauritzfontein; trainer AE Sands; jockey C Zackey
2 – Sachdev (SAF), 60.0, b g 3, Silvano (GER) – Quetta (SAF) by Kabool (GB)
3 – Super Silvano (SAF), 60.0, b c 3, Bold Silvano (SAF) – Respectable Lady (SAF) by Kabool (GB)
Margins: 0.50, 2.75, 0.30