Claverhouse In A Big Hole

Monday, 6 June at the sand at Flamingo Park

Arctic Jet, good winner at Kimberley seen winning his first race on the grass.

A true blue Monday on 6 June at the sand venue of  Flamingo Park in the Northern Cape. Supporters of the fancied horses Claverhouse and Glass Sky, would have justifiably felt rather aggrieved after they both  burst through the gates  at the start of the Kimberley feature event and ran accordingly. The eventual winner was Glass Sky’s formless stable companion Count Dumani,  who made most of the running and stayed on at 15-1  to beat another roughie in the 25-1 shot,  Fast Fantasy.

The proof of the impact of this shocking result was in the bitter taste of the exotic pudding, with the PA jumping from a suburban looking minimum dividend of R10, to R94, in the space of under three minutes.  Corne Spies, whose runner in the previous race, Harry Prince had made a mockery of race  protocols by cantering, galloping, sprinting and then braking, all in the space of about 400m,  produced the winner here – and how the  son of Count Dubois turned the formbook on its head and managed to finish ahead of his far more talented stable-mate,  is a matter of conjecture and wonder.

Ridden by Andrew Fortune, the Peter Miller Racing trained Claverhouse was a well supported favourite for the R90 000 Kimberley Classic. Costing  half a bar as a youngster, he  had won three of his five starts before arriving to contest  today’s race and had never displayed any wayward behavioural traits previously. He and Glass Sky were drawn alongside one another though and like two naughty boys playing with matches, the one probably  got the other going and it was a race to forget for punters. The form is best taken with a pinch of salt.

After a rewarding past week that culminated in the feature winner Power Lord at Turffontein on Sunday, Gauteng-based rider Sherman Brown started his Monday afternoon with a bang with a double in the first two races, eventually riding four winners on the day. Piloting the diminutive Casey Tibbs colt Rainbows Forever for Power Lord’s trainer David Rahilly in the opener, Brown enjoyed an armchair ride as he quickened clear in the 1200m Maiden Juvenile Plate  to win easily. He said afterwards that the other jocks in the race had remarked about the size of his ‘pony’ at the start, but said it just went to show that size didn’t always count. The Windrush filly, Pearl Rush, made an auspicious debut flying through late to get up for second place.  In the second race, the former Glen Puller-trained Captain Universe gave his supporters no sweat when he cruised through to win easily at prohibitive odds of 9-20. His Clairwood form was fair and he is out of the brilliant Puller sprinter Flashy Star, by Galba,  who won nine of her fifteen starts for the Naidoo family. Brown expressed the opinion after the race that the son of Captail Al may pay to follow in the Northern Cape.

A dramatic change of tactics from a poor draw saw the Goldkeeper filly Bacardi Keeper stay on well from the front under Marco Van Resburg for a welcome change of luck for trainer Cliffie Miller in the third, a mixed Maiden Plate over 1600m. Miller,  whose silver grey locks have aged him in recent months – it cannot be stress in the sedentary Kimberley environment –   was appreciative of the support of the filly’s owner ‘Budgie’ Byrne, who he said had probably ‘got the lot.’ The moderate Nysean gelding Petradi stayed on for second after a great run in open company last time out, but he is not one to risk the rent money on . An interesting runner here was Winter Fire, a gelded son of Western Winter who cost R800 000 at the National Yearling Sale. The ex Weiho Marwing horse made his debut for Jannie Borman and after showing pace dropped away to finish stone last. That means he has finished over a hundred lengths back in his five runs. Who said buying racehorses was easy?

The Hollywood sponsored Cliffie Miller was back in the winners box in the fifth race, where the talented Rain King won his fourth race from fourteen starts when showing his appreciation of the 2200m trip. The poor draw did nothing to hinder the chances of the George Rowles-bred son of Opera King, and a bullish Marco Van Rensburg showed the benefit of his week’s suspension induced break, by riding his second winner of the day. The fourth placed horse, Harry Prince was something of a standout in this event – not on form but for the manner in which hewas ridden. He dawdled behind being pushed along and then spent the rest of the contest racing  wide around the field into a prominent position before stalling somewhat and then staying on late to sneak fourth spot.  This was definitely not the ride-of-the-month!

Andrew Fortune rode the winner of the fourth race, interestingly his first for  Peter Miller’s son, Shaun, when he steered the smart Jet Master gelding Artic Jet to an easy win in the MR 84 Handicap. This is the former Joey Ramsden-trained bay’s  favourite distance and while  he looks unlikely to ever surpass his R400 000 Vintage price tag, he has won seven races  from twenty-two starts and should win a few more here. He did run second in today’s feature , the Kimberley Classic, at the corresponding meeting in 2010.

Sherman Brown rode his third winner of the day when the Vernon Rugg-trained Special Academy upstaged the ‘difficult’ ride and favourite National Hunt, with Andrew Fortune aboard,  to win the first leg of the jackpot. He has proven frustrating for punters as he really battled like a moderate performer to shed his maiden, but  the Australian-bred gelding upped his game to stay on well in this MR 64 Handicap over the minimum trip.  Brown was back in the winner’s enclosure when the consistent ATM machine, Hunter’s Green recorded his eighth win from twenty-five outings when overcoming a bad draw to win the last leg of the jackpot. He was made a lot of use of in the race but is all heart and while he has had a busy programme this year, he could well win a feature race at this venue. He cost just R15 000 as a yearling and is the kind of horse that everybody dreams of owning.

Andrew Fortune rode his second winner of  a tough day at the office when he steered Celestial Flag to an easy win at 33-10 in the final event to make it four winners on the day for Trainer Vernon Rugg. The daughter of Classic Flag is owned by longstanding racing supporter  Peet Diedericks, who also bred her.

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