Day Of The Drier!

Drier, Forbes and Haug treble at Kenilworth on 2 January

Karl's Covenant! Covenant wins the Gr2 Sceptre under Karl Neisius.

In the absence of the brilliant Val De Ra, Mike Bass’s smart sprinter Covenant grabbed the honours when winning the R200 000 Gr2 Graham Beck Memorial Sceptre Stakes for the second successive year. The bravest run of the race at Kenilworth on 2 January was delivered by the fighting fairy Trinity House, who did everything but win.

Joey Ramsden’s bouncy three year old Trinity House ran Princess Victoria to 1,25 lengths in the Fillies Guineas just a month ago, and she reverted to sprinting here and gave her year older adversary a bit to think about. But Covenant was equal and better to the challenge. Interestingly the  two Western Winter fillies, Covenant and Barcelona Baby, landed up getting the better of the five Captain Als, when they ran first and third in a race brimful of class and speed.

Covenant is owned and was also bred by Varsfontein Stud and the daughter of the prolific Bush Telegraph mare Secret Pact recorded her eighth win from fifteen starts. She followed her win in this race last year with a successful assault on the Gr1 Majorca Stakes on Met day, and this could well be the plan with her again.

The R125 000 Listed Southeaster Sprint run over 1100m was the second of the day’s features and marked a career highlight for the strong-galloper, Cap Alright, trained by Justin Snaith. The son of Captain Al has run countless second places in his career and is appropriately out of the Centenary mare, Second Chance.  This was his fourth win and he has improved since being beaten by Tic Tak Toe at Arlington in September.  The Normandy Stud bred cost R100 000 as a yearling and runs in the partnership of Etienne Braun, Margate based Paul Loomes and leading lady Breeder, Veronica Foulkes. He was well ridden by MJ Byleveld, who also won the previous race on the Vaughan Marshall-trained Northern Conquest.

Speed. Delago Deluxe wins the Var Speed feature under Anton Marcus.

The Var Syndicate are riding the crest of a wave with the progeny of their Forest Wildcat stallion winning everything from Group 1 races to maidens all over the country. The syndicate sponsors the Var Speed Series and the R150 000 Need For Speed sprint run over 1000m forms the 2012 Cape leg of the series. Having puzzlingly attracted a field of just five runners, the race looked a gift for the Mike Bass trained Equus Champion Juvenile Colt of last season, Delago Deluxe. And the plan mapped out with the Joostes pocketing the R99 457 first cheque as the easiest cash earned on a racecourse in a long while.  The three year old Encosta De Lago colt beat the Joey Ramsden gelding Lake Geneva, who runs in the same silks, and ran a cracker after being outpaced throughout. He should be a penalty kick in a Novice Plate next time out!

Anton Marcus and the Joostes were less fortunate in the very next race, when the Joey Ramsden-trained Marine Sky flopped at odds-on and dragged 700 000 Place Accumulator tickets into the drains of despair. Marcus took the favourite up to lead early in the Maiden Plate over 1400m and the Australian bred son of Southern Image looked a banker after a string of placed efforts. He put his ears back at the 300m and threw in the towel as Alec Forbes produced the Argentinian bred Besugo for a runaway win for the first leg of a terrific winning treble for Mt Edgecombe-based owner Knut Haug and trainer Dennis Drier.

Thrilling Three. Alec Forbes steers Miss Ipanema to an easy win for Dennis Drier.

Drier and Forbes had closely shadowed the brilliant Princess Victoria with Miss Ipanema in the Cape Fillies Championship and the Fillies Guineas and starting at 11-20 she converted a penalty kick in the first leg of the Pick 6, a Novice Plate over 1400m. Carl Burger’s Madame Rooney made the pace as she always does, but had no chance as Forbes sent the Aussie-bred bay on her way for the second of the combination’s winners. Forbes and Drier also closed the day when the odd-on Argentinian bred Bambina Stripes was too good for her field when winning the Maiden Plate over a mile. Owner Knut Haug must be wondering how much better things can get in 2012!

Anton Marcus was back in the winner’s enclosure in the Jooste silks after the running of the fifth race, an MR75 Handicap over 1400m. And it was not a race where his Cape colleagues emerged smelling of roses. The champion jockey showed just why he is South Africa’s first choice in the saddle when he dictated the pace on the Ramsden grey Ashanti Gold. The son of Goldkeeper had recently won his maiden and was easy to back at 4-1. Marcus bluffed his seven opponents, giving his mount a breather at around the 300m marker, before squeezing him for a final effort.  The fancied Cherbourg ran on a half hour too late under Karl Neisius, to run a well beaten second.

Brothers Puller. Garth(left) and Glen Puller are a powerful team.

The Puller name has been at the forefront of Western Cape horseracing for over four decades and the brothers Glen and Garth own the promising looking first race winner, Opt For Opera. Bought by Garth and trained by Glen, the daughter of bread and butter stallion Opera King was bred by KwaZulu-Natal based horseracing elder Chris Saunders. The latter interestingly always names his horses with three words. Fareed Anthony gave the four year old a perfect ride, sticking to her outside station and she ran away from the pack after overhauling the pacemaking favourite Herecomesthebride, in the final 200m.  This was only her second race after a smart second first time out and she looks like she will stay on as she gets stronger. Brett Crawford’s Daggons Hall caught the eye when improving nicely to run into second

A thought to close. Tellytrack on-course presenter Stan Elley observed that many of the runners that contested the day’s second feature were late on arriving in the parade ring and punters and enthusiasts were thus robbed of the opportunity to view them properly. Do the Cape trainers know that betting turnover is a major driver of the embattled stakes engine?


Sceptre S. (SAf-G2) (1/2)
Kenilworth, South Africa, January 2, R200.000, 1200m, turf, good, 1.10.43 (CR 1.09.90).
1 – COVENANT (SAF), 60.0, b f 4, Western Winter – Secret Pact (SAF) by Bush Telegraph (SAF). Owner & breeder Varsfontein Stud (SAF); trainer M W Bass; jockey K Neisius (R132.609)
2 – Trinity House (SAF), 56.5, b f 3, Captain Al (SAF) – National Vixen (SAF) by National Assembly (CAN)
3 – Barcelona Winter (SAF), 60.0, b f 4, Western Winter – Barcelona Baby (SAF) by Golden Thatch (IRE)
Margins: ¾, 1½, 1
Also ran: State Blue (SAF) 60.0, Dance With Al (SAF) 60.0, Captain’s Emblem (SAF) 60.0, Flaming Alice (SAF) 60.0, Fragrant Al (SAF) 60.0, Street Runner (SAF) 60.0

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