Igugu, history in the making?

Igugu, history in the making?

R750,000 Gr2 SA Oaks, Turffontein 2400m (stand side) on Saturday

Few horses bought for a million rand or more ever recoup there purchase price on the track, but not only has Igugu already done that, but she will also earn her purchase price in bonus money alone if becoming the first horse in history to win South Africa’s Triple Tiara, writes Steve Furnish

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Igugu

A R1million purchase from the 2009 Ready To Run Sale, Igugu couldn’t have been more impressive when winning her first three career starts. She was sent off at prohibitive odds to win the R1,5M Ready To Run Cup as result of those efforts and running on stoutly at the finish of that 1400m event, was only beaten a length. She again tasted defeat when a runner up to the highly regarded Ebony Flyer in the Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas, where finishing as well as the winner in the closing stages of the race, she was beaten by a similar margin. Since returning to the highveld though, she has taken off out of all proportion. Indeed, the manner in which she gained revenge on her Ready To Run Cup conqueror Hollywoodboulevard in the first leg of the Triple Tiara was stunning. That success though, was nothing compared to the hiding that she handed out to her seven rivals in the second leg, the Gr2 SA Fillies Classic last time out. Adopting a change of tactics in that event, Igugu was taken straight to the front by jockey’s log leader Anthony Delpech and led throughout. She was four lengths clear entering the long home straight and despite the efforts of the chasing pack, she fairly cruised clear in the latter stages of the race to score by ten! Igugu rates twelve points clear of her nearest rival in the merit ratings here and with her connections confident that she will see out the extra, taking her place in the history books looks like a formality.

Checcetti

As well as the red hot favourite Igugu, globetrotter Mike De Kock is also represented by both Checcetti and Ilha Grande. Checcetti picked up a couple of wins in very good style early in the season and at that stage it looked as if she would go on to better things. Since stepping up in class though, she has found the going a bit tough. This daughter of Kahal usually races up with the speed and having made the running on more than one occasion, it could well be that she will be asked to make the running for her more talented stable companion.

Ilha Grande

Other than Brian Wiid’s charge (lol), the dark horse of the race is Mike De Kock’s second/third string Ilha Grande. This daughter of Tiger Ridge was backed into the red when trailing in some twelve lengths behind the winner on debut, but then, in her two starts before being laid off for eight months in June, she came to hand very nicely. Ilha Grande beat Carey’s Qui going away by two in that latest outing before a break and although a direct comparison cannot be made, it is interesting to note that Carey’s Qui is currently rated seven points higher than Ilha Grande.

Ilha Grande, the dark horse of the race

She was beaten by Justthewayyouare on her return in February, but in all probability she would have needed that run and she has shown considerable improvement in winning each of her two starts since. Already proven on both good and soft ground, the manner in which Ilha Grande won the Oaks Trial over 2000m here last time out would suggest that the extra 400m here will be to her liking. She can still improve considerably and could well prove to be the biggest threat to her stable companion.

Justthewayyouare

The highest rated of Geoff Woodruff’s two runners, Justthewayyouare has done very little wrong. Indeed, after finishing third in her only outing over sprint distances on debut, this daughter of Fort Wood very quickly reeled off three wins in a row. She was a little surprisingly picked off late in handicap company in her penultimate start, but she did then redeem her reputation when comfortably accounting for her seven rivals in the listed Spook Express Handicap over 2600m on the inner track last time out. Justthewayyouare has never been beaten with Anton Marcus in the saddle and she is sure to get the trip. If Igugu should battle to see out the trip, she could be the one to capitalize.

Princess Of Light

As with stable companion Justthewayyouare, Princess Of Light quickly found the winner’s enclosure after putting in a fair effort over shorter on debut. At first glance she would look to have lost her way a little after winning two in a row, but she did then step up in class and in our book she has actually shown improvement in each of her last three starts. She’s sure to give of her best here, but she was beaten fair and square by Ilha Grande in the Oaks Trial last time out and on just 1,5kg better terms, she might battle to make the frame.

Stormy Coast

George Scott’s charge showed a lot of promise in her early runs as a juvenile and at that stage was thought good enough to contest both the Gr1 Allan Robertson and the Gr1 Golden Slipper. After being reported as lame on the near hind when scratched from the Fillies Mile in November though, she has battled to find her form. Indeed, Stormy Coast has been unable to get within fourteen lengths of the winner in each of her last three starts and on that cannot be fancied.

Cherry On The Cake

After running a fair second to the useful Miss Zummerudd on debut, and then having won going away in her next start, Gavin Van Zyl’s charge was thought good enough to contest the Gr1 Thekweni Stakes in her only subsequent outing last season. She was a running on fourth in that event and at that stage of her career looked to be a fair sort in the making. Since returning from a break in October though, she’s been beaten after holding every chance in all three starts and not sure to get the extra here, followers should be few.

Keep On Dreaming

On the two occasions that she has found the winner’s enclosure, the Natal raider Keep On Dreaming has won well. Those victories came in the maidens and in a MR68 Handicap though, and her runs either side of those wins leave a lot to be desired. Dream on.

Mar Lodge

The sparingly raced Mar Lodge bumped some fair sorts in the maiden ranks and has shown flashes of real ability. She was coming along nicely prior to being given a break after gaining her first win, but then as the betting suggested (14/1 out to 33/1), she was unable to get in a blow when returning to action in the Oaks Trial over 2000m here just two weeks ago. Mar Lodge can still improve, and the extra should suit. She is perhaps best just watched here though.

Micro Jet

Stuart Pettigrew’s charge was running on nicely when third to Justthewayyouare in December and she has been showing steady improvement in each of her three outings since. She gets every inch of today’s trip as she showed when staying on to take third over this distance last time out. This is a major step up in class for Micro Jet though and as with a few others in this event, she is an optimistic entry.

Nautical

One wonders if there shouldn’t be a rule to stop maidens who haven’t achieved a certain merit rating, or indeed won after six starts, from entering graded races. Nautical (with a merit rating of 68) must be performing like a demon on the gallops at home, because she has shown absolutely nothing to warrant her entry here, on the track.

About The Pace

With the ones that matter preferring to race up with, or close to the speed, at least a fair pace can be expected. Igugu showed in no uncertain terms last time out that she is capable of doing it all herself, but it does look as if one of her stable companions has been employed to do the donkey work for her. Either way, she rates well clear of her ten rivals here and is a confident choice to become the first horse in history to win all three legs of the Triple Tiara.

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