Croc Valley surprises in Gr3 Prix du Cap

Croc Valley seemingly appreciated the drop back to 1400m and came right back to her best form when she sprung a 22/1 upset in the Prix du Cap (summer course) at Kenilworth on Sunday.  The mare had not won a race since capturing a Listed handicap over 1700m in January of last year, but she hit all the right buttons this time around to recorded the first Graded race win of her career, writes Matthew Lips.

Trinity House looked to have plenty going for her in this conditions event for fillies and mares, and she was supported from an ante-post call of 18/10 to start as the 8/10 favourite over a distance which seemed absolutely perfect for her.  Money Surger found plenty if action at bigger prices and went off as the 11/2 second favourite from an opening 12/1, with Dance With Al the 17/1 third choice of punters.  None of these would figure in the finish, though, and the result would fall fairly within the ambit of what is known in racing’s vernacular as a “Place Accumulator knockout.”

Fragrant Al soon found her way to the front and set a reasonable pace ahead of Flaming Alice, Ocean’s Swift and Trinity House, with Croc Valley and Dance With Al further behind.  Ocean’s Swift quickly came forward to dispute the once into the straight as Trinity House began to move up on the inside rail, with Fragrant Al and Flaming Alice beginning to feel the pressure inside the last 300m.  Trinity House didn’t appear to go through with her effort, though, and was clearly in a load of trouble approaching the final 200m.

In fact, all the action was developing wider out and the stands’ side of the track very much looked like the place to be.  Silver Apples and Street Runner were both launching their challenges as Ocean’s Swift tried gamely to stick it out with them, but nothing could match the late turn of foot unleashed by Croc Valley.  Finding a clear run against the outside fence, the five-year-old stormed to the front under Aldo Domeyer in the closing stages and went on to beat Street Runner by three-parts of a length.  Silver Apples, in the same ownership as the winner but representing a different stable, finished about a neck further away in third.  The gallant Ocean’s Swift eventually finished fourth, a further length adrift.

Super Elegant was staying on to be beaten little more than a total of three lengths into fifth spot and probably is at her best beyond this distance, but Trinity House might have felt the effects of a fairly busy Cape season and finished a disappointing eighth, 4.30 lengths behind the winner.  Money Surger made no show and finished sixth, while Dance With Al finished with only one behind her.

Croc Valley seems to be a pretty versatile type, but half of her six career wins have now come over 1400m and Mike Bass’ mare is obviously extremely effective at this trip.  She was better treated than most of her rivals by the Prix du Cap weights if judged on merit ratings and her success was achieved in pretty eye-catching fashion.  She will be a worthy addition to her owner/breeder’s Drakenstein Stud broodmare band when the time comes for Croc Valley to retire, and in the much shorter term the Drakenstein team can revel in the fact that they offer a half sister by Right Approach to Croc Valley at the Cape Premier Yearling Sale Book II on Friday March 2nd.

Croc Valley is by three times champion sire Western Winter.  She is out of the Irish-bred Nahswan mare Niyabah, who won one race from only three starts and who is the dam also of Listed winner Galileo’s Night and Gr 3 runner-up Komatipoort.  Croc Valley’s third dam Water Lily was a leading two-year-old in France and produced multiple Gr 1 winner Talinum.  Somewhat distantly, this is the family of Melbourne Cup winner Jeune.  Croc Valley has won six times from 26 starts in the Drakenstein colours, earning stakes of R478 020.

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Prix du Cap (SAf-G3) (2/19)
Kenilworth, South Africa, February 19, R150.000, 1400m, turf, good, 1.24.93 (CR 1.24.00).
1 – CROC VALLEY (SAF), 56.0, b m 5, Western Winter – Niyabah (IRE) by Nashwan. Owner & breeder Drakenstein Stud (SAF); trainer M W Bass; jockey A Domeyer (R99.457)
2 – Street Runner (SAF), 55.5, b f 4, Toreador (IRE) – Baker Street (SAF) by Goldmark (SAF)
3 – Silver Apples (SAF), 55.5, ch m 5, Victory Moon (SAF) – Milden Magic (SAF) by National Emblem (SAF)
Margins: ¾, ¼, 1
Also ran: Ocean’s Swift (SAF) 52.5, Super Elegant (SAF) 53.5, Money Surger (SAF) 55.5, Fragrant Al (SAF) 59.0, Trinity House (SAF) 54.0, Mombasa (SAF) 55.5, Lineal Factor (SAF) 55.5, Ce Loire (SAF) 55.5, Dance With Al (SAF) 60.5, Flaming Alice (SAF) 55.5, In Like Flynn (SAF) 56.0

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