Double for Drier in Wet

Wednesday 8 June at Clairwood

Full of Heart - Roxie Heart romps home

Often a last chance saloon for battling horses from the major provinces  in South Africa, Eastern Cape racing is seen as something of a second-rate centre where the horses are average, the stakes okay and the racing community  extremely friendly and hospitable. We may just have to revisit our perceptions about relative strength now that Dennis Drier has turned out a winner and a third-place  in the past two KZN meetings from horses that  weren’t exactly setting the world alight down the coast. The manner of  Roxie Heart’s win on Wednesday 8 June at Clairwood,  after a close to three month rest,  speaks of promise and more to come.

The joy of horseracing is that it is so simple to differ in opinion and to justify one’s argument at the end of the day. There can be little doubt that with stakes in traditional Gold Circle centres lagging behind Phumelela territory and the average costs of training keep slightly lower, that Port Elizabeth represents a viable option not only for the lame, lazy and delinquent but for any owner looking for a fairer deal.  With the Martin Cohen training operation recently undergoing structural change as a result of the proposed Peter Miller racing buy-in, a couple of the ex-Cohen horses have found their way to the Drier yard at Summerveld.

The rain may have played havoc with the uncertainty of playing things race by race at Clairwood with intermittent showers, a cut-up track and the routine and expected jockey protest followed by a track inspection after the seventh race , delaying matters. All credit is due though to the jocks and racing operator Gold Circle for soldiering on and eventually only losing the last race. They certainly tried and that is a welcome positive for us to harp on for a change.

Trainer Dennis Drier celebrated a nice afternoon in spite of the grey blanket cloaking the South Coast track,  and after the forward performance at Scottsville on Tuesday of Queen Tamara, who ran a smart third to Flowers Of Spring, it was another former Martin Cohen – trained horse in Roxie Heart who scored the second leg of the Drier stable double today. The subject of some inspired betting support from long odds, the four year old filly came away from her eighteen rivals to win the first leg of the jackpot for,  dare we say it for the umpteenth time this month, Dynasty. She had been a model of consistency on the fringes of the winning cheques  in the Windy City before her move. She last ran in March so it was a considerable training feat by the master  and a confident ride by 4kg claimer  Jason Smitsdorff, whose second career winner it was.  Smitsdorff rode his fist winner at Greyville on 20 May and he is described by the Glen Kotzen  KZN Assistant Trainer, Frikkie Greyling, as a ‘nice balanced lightie who rides a fair amount of work here.’ There is a lot to be said for trainers who shrewdly place their horses with the maximum claimers in the saddle and the exhuberant Smitsdorff was full value for his allowance, after replacing the qualified hobby  pilot, Stuart Randolph. Flying is an expensive pastime and Drier will no doubt have explained his strategy and thinking to his senior man.

A product of the Cohen family stud in Ceres – Martin’s brother Lionel now trains horses in Australia – Roxie Heart is a daughter of the Counter Action mare Dream League and was a R65 000 Vintage graduate. She had shown up  well to the Snaith horse Captain’s Cove on occasion in PE but had not won since August. On this performance, she will be competitive in KZN and should pay her way.

Markus and Ingrid Jooste have certainly diversified  their trainers after the Charles Laird monopoly of recent times, and Drier’s first win for them was in  the familiar green, yellow and black silks in the first race, a  Maiden Juvenile Plate over 1200m. Kruger Rand, a R325 000 Klawervlei Stud National Sale graduate stayed on well to win at her second start after a good debut. She looks another good Goldkeeper in the making and how versatile this stallion is on both surfaces.

Galileo’s Galaxy recently joined the Mike Bass string as part of the Jooste restructuring process and he looked a cut above his rivals in the main event, an MR 99 Handicap over 1450m. The Kotzen veteran Thunder Creek did his usual gallant donkey work up-front before fading as Marcus got to work about 400m out on Galileo’s Galaxy. He  appeared to be shirking and hanging out and not relishing the urgings of the champion rider.  It was eventually a workmanlike but largely unimpressive win but Bass will no doubt be getting to work on the gelded son of Gallileo. The run of the race came from the rank outsider, Triple Vortex, who charged through late.  He is a progressive looking one-time winner running off an MR of 81 and,  while receiving plenty of weight from the winner, he ran a nice race. Watch him in a Novice next time. He is by Jet Master  out of a top-class racehorse in Lady Margeret Hall and has run some fair races since winning his maiden at his 4th start. Definitely one for the notebook.

After his nice ride on Triple Vortex, apprentice Julius Mariba took four kilograms off the back of the Ivan Moore-trained  Restless Wind and his brave front-running display  almost  stole the eighth race, an MR81 Handicap over 1450m, at juicy odds of  25-1. Running fresh after a 132 day rest, the son of Windrush kept on digging up reserves of energy  as the clods flew and the track cut up visibly. He hit  a brick wall late as Anton Marcus squeezed aggressively past within spitting distance  on High Accolade. The young  Mariba drifted in but somehow salvaged  the second cheque.  High Accolade was a third winner on the day  to carry the Jooste silks and marked a welcome return to the winner’s box  for Charles Laird and his KZN Assistant,  former jockey Stephen Jupp.

Glory on debut - Welsh Glory wins his first start

A raceday hardly passes without Mike De Kock getting on the scoreboard and he sent out a smart double in the third and fourth races with the Avontuur Stud bred Timetogoby, winning the first leg of the PA. The daughter of Damascus Gate, a sire we don’t hear much from these days, out of the brilliant Complete Warrior mare La Brea Pits, she won readily in the ‘Val De Ra’ silks.

The 13-20 favourite Welsh Glory won the first leg of the Pick Six, over 1100m, to complete Stout Michael’s double.  A three year old Argentinian-bred son of  Honour And Glory, who produced the  2008 UAE Derby winner, Honour Devil, he took forever to get going but  found his gears late to get up and win going away under a vigorous Shea. He will be better over further and while beating nothing of note, did little wrong.

Champions Season returns in earnest to Clairwood on Saturday and let’s hope the rain plays ball!

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