Owner Michael Leaf bounced back just a few months after his Vodacom Durban objection trauma last year to lay out a cool R1,1 million for a lovely Star Witness colt. He was handsomely rewarded at Turffontein on Saturday, when the Justin Snaith-trained Lineker recouped much of that in just over a minute and a bit.
It was a big move on the part of Leaf to buy a horse for placement in the very stable who had been on the champagne end of a sensational 2014 Vodacom Durban July objection that had seen his present day Cheveley Stud-based stallion Wylie Hall relegated to a largely forgettable runner-up berth in Africa’s greatest horserace.
But when John Freeman signed the slip for Lineker a few months later, it was to be a first fortuitous step in a healing process that looks likely to reap well-deserved rewards.
The R2 015 000 BSA Ready To Run Cup produced a thriller for racing fans, with Piere Strydom seen at his brilliant best on Leaf’s Lineker – a horse the champion jockey said had given him no assistance at all.
“Things almost went awry. I was disappointed with the handler who let his head go and we missed the break. But it may have worked in his favour in the end. And I was just so happy when he started kicking – but that was only in the last ten strides,” said Strydom who was out of breath after his European honeymoon and earned every cent of his tidy commission.
Trainer Justin Snaith admitted that even he had experienced a bout of nerves before the field had come out of the gates:
“Hell, I was nervous as my horse stood for quite a while – but it probably worked in our favour in the end. It was a masterful ride again by Piere. Let’s face it – when you come here you want the right guy on top. Thanks to owner Michael Leaf – what a truly deserved victory this is. And I must pay tribute to my team and Ashleigh Hughes, in particular,” said the former national champion.
There was plenty of honour in defeat for Gary Alexander’s R220 000 debut winner, Crystal Glamour.
The daughter of Seventh Rock chased Linker all the way to the line and was only 0,25 lengths adrift.
Redcarpet Captain was poorly drawn but ran his heart out in third, with Stuart Pettigrew’s Lateral colt Dawn Raid running on for fourth.
The KZN Gr1 winning fillies Lauderdale and Chestnuts ‘N Pearls were rather disappointing and finished south of midfield – but nevertheless banking R45 000 and R40 000 respectively.
The Australian bred Lineker is a son of Star Witness out of the Zim-bred Goldkeeper mare, Battle Maiden, who won the 2004 Gr1 Garden Province Stakes.
The stakes placed Lineker took his earnings to R973 150 in the 85,91 secs it took him to cover the 1400m, and was registering his second win from 5 starts with 2 places.
He looks a good proposition to follow – particularly if Striker is in the irons.