Trainer Dean Kannemeyer happily found himself in the crossfire of the dogfight for champion sire honours at Durbanville on 20 July. The fifty year old Milnerton conditioner celebrated the unique distinction of saddling the first three winners on the card, all for Captain Al, and all three ridden by veteran jockey Karl Neisius.
Dean Kannemeyer will be thrilled and very honoured to be the toast of Klawervlei Stud this evening. His legendary father Peter taught him a long time ago that keeping the company of the right owners is half the battle won in the trying profession of training thoroughbred racehorses. And Dean is doing just fine. Not only were two of his four winners racing in the interests of the singularly most powerful man in South African horseracing in Markus Jooste, but his success in those first three races may prove crucial to Captain Al’s title challenge. Little were we to know then that Jet Master would answer the challenge by firing a return salvo with three later winners! Kannemeyer’s was a heady hat-trick indeed and it certainly had the Captain Al supporters waving their flags and reaching for the calculators.
The statistics will prove again that one’s chances of winning races, and particularly the Classics and Group races, is greatly enhanced by sticking with the proven stallions. That bit of non rocket science obviously comes at a price and not to say that one can’t get lucky with the odd fluke here or there. Or even by taking a position on a first season sire. But sticking with the Jet Masters and Captain Als of this world, will mean you are less likely to land up with a beautiful four year old hack for little Sarah. Today’s Durbanville meeting ended on three winners apiece for the top two stallions, with Dynasty chalking up two and Lammerskraal’s Go Deputy registering one winner. Veteran jockey Karl Neisius rode all three Captain Al winners and one for Jet Master, and his five-timer on the day passed almost without notice in the excitement over the stallion scramble. Well done, Karl.
The Jet Master – Captain Al championship tussle has its origins in the 2004/5 season when the equine gigolos fought out the Champion Freshman sire title. Jet Master put his nose down on the line that year to clinch the race by under R200 000, although Captain Al beat him on the winner count, 22 – 21. It was extremely tense and tight that season and this year’s fight for supremacy is going right down to the wire again. Even though it has, until this afternoon at Durbanville, been largely overshadowed by the stallion’s two-legged counterparts. Anthony Delpech and Anton Marcus have been banging heads on an almost daily basis. The two rampant riders even have the bookmakers pricing up on who will eventually lift the jockey trophy in just under two weeks. But let’s leave the jockey story for another day!
The SA Champion Sire title has a unique serious needle and as the incumbent and a title holder for the past six seasons, four as Champion Sire, Jet Master cannot rest on his laurels. His challenger Captain Al stands at Klawervlei Stud, near the Cape town of Bonnievale, in the Valley Of Cheese and Wine. He is a son of the recently deceased Al Mufti, a stalwart of the South African breeding industry. Captain Al carries the influential Roberto line and he strikes one as a neat, dare we say, little horse, made very much in the image of his sire. He was trained in his racing career by one of his staunch present day supporters in trainer Vaughan Marshall. He campaigned in the pink and black Dos Santos silks.
The defending champion Jet Master is a former SA Horse of the Year and is a legend in his own right. He stands at Klipdrift Stud near Robertson in the BAR Valley. He is popularly immediately recognized these days as the sire of turf legend Pocket Power and that star’s full sister River Jetez, as well as 2011 Met winner, Past Master. A big rough-looking bull of a horse, he is also made very much in the mould of his sire, Rakeen. He has the uncanny ability to stamp his progeny with elegance and a lot of fire – as well as tons of racing ability! He raced in the red and white Devine silks in his racing career for Tony Millard and Geoff Woodruff.
The lead in the race for champion sire honours changed a few times this afternoon and Jet Master has now bounced back into a slender lead after Captain Al’s Kannemeyer cavalry charge of earlier. The marginal difference at the top of the log means that Super Saturday is potentially measuring up into a humdinger of a day and it could well come down to a matter of the stake of a minor race at the end of the day.
As the sun set over the Durbanville Hills, Dean Kannemeyer would have reflected on a great day at the office with his four winners. Besides those first three for Captain Al, he brought the curtain down on the day by sending out the good-looking Go Deputy first-timer Alula Borealis for Markus Jooste, to win the last. The long-striding gangly chestnut looks like he may need 2000m to show his ability and was thought to be in need of the run. The quality of the casualties behind him would not have worried his trainer, who knows only too well that good horses overcome adversity and win in their first couple of starts – irrespective of the distance and the obstacles.