A second stage entry after winning the Listed Michaelmas Handicap in his home province last month, Nathan Kotzen’s Royal Victory became the first KZN-based galloper this century to win the R5 million Betway Gr1 Summer Cup at a bustling Turffontein on Saturday.
A former assistant trainer to multiple champion Mike de Kock, Nathan Kotzen enjoyed the rare privilege of prepping the R90 000 son of Pathfork, now an earner of over R3,6 million in stakes, to beat his former boss’ big hitter Safe Passage in a thrilling finish to the Highveld showpiece.
With the scratching of the Tony Peter duo of Meridius and Electric Gold reducing the field to 18 for the record stake renewal of the historic 2000m contest, it was Litigation who won the scramble for the early lead and the pace was always muddling.
In the run for home Royal Victory, having his first run over 2000m, built up from rear of midfield as he picked them off one by one and had Son Of Raj and Safe Passage firmly in his sights at the 200m.
Under an enthusiastic left handed ride from Muzi Yeni, Royal Victory (33-1) showed his appreciation for the trip to score a deserved 2,25 length victory in a time of 124,05 secs.
Safe Passage (11-2) found his better form again and ran his heart out in second, ahead of Sean Tarry’s gallant filly Bless My Stars (11-2) in third.
Fabian Habib’s Zeus (8-1) found support and ran a cracker in fourth.
The winner is raced by passionate racing folk Peter Victor, B J Wiese & Natasha Sturdy and was a peak career moment for Summerveld conditioner Nathan Kotzen.
Bred by Ambiance Stud, Royal Victory is by Ridgemont’s Distorted Humor stallion Pathfork out of the four-time winning Kahal mare, Kailani.
An astute R90 000 buy off the National Yearling Sale, he has now won 4 races with 6 places from 15 starts for stakes of R3 636 250.
Each of the Grooms with a runner in the Betway Summer Cup received a cash payment of R20 000.
Watch the replay here: