Favourites take a hammering

Arlington 12 September

Double date. Warren Kennedy rode two winners today.

A great day for the Barry Steenkamp yard but another testing day for punters at Arlington on 12 September. With only one favourite winning, the form in the Eastern Cape continues to puzzle and amaze and the suggestion of the proverbial ‘good thing’ in the seaside racing centre has become something of a standing joke these days.

Alan Greeff’s Lord Badger and the Justin Snaith-trained Cap Alright were the two Pick Six rockers of the afternoon.The Greeff gelding ran a poor fourth and Snaith’s longstriding Captain Al was rolled by a six year old Plattner retread, which had run fourth at his last outing – in Flamingo Park! Both got beaten without apparent excuses.

The grey-haired guy with the wild man look, Barry Steenkamp is one of the colourful seasoned professionals in the South African training ranks. A man who cut his teeth and learnt the basics of his trade in the Western Cape under the no nonsense tutelage of his legendary late uncle, ‘Cookie’ Amos. Uncle Barry – even the commentator in the relaxed and homely environs of PE affectionately refers to him by that title -seldom appears on Tellytrack these days,  preferring to leave the PR duties in the capable hands of his charismatic assistant, former jockey and All Black supporter, Rocky Agrella.

The strange thing about Steenkamp’s treble is that none of the winners were ridden by Rocky’s brother, Wayne. But we are not interested in the stable politics, and Derryl Daniels, Sherman Brown and Marco Van Rensburg grabbed the opportunity with both hands. They won the first three legs of the jackpot and set the bar for the exotic paying a healthy R14 317. Daniels followed up his win on Jet Trail atScottsville yesterday by riding a well judged and powerful finish on the 25-1 shot, Gup’s Girl, to win the fourth race.

Sherman Brown then won the sixth race, an MR78 Handicap over 2400m, on the gangly Lecture gelding Audit Report, who has come into his own over ground. The Sham-owned R100 000 Vintage graduate has a huge stride and won his fourth race here from 21 starts.  The stable then rocked Pick Six and Jackpot punters with a body-blow when beating the fancied Cap Alright. Tic Tak Toe was winning his fourth race from eighteen starts and obviously has some fair ability. In hindsight, he represented fair value at his 14-1 starting price once his form is analysed. It is always so easy afterwards! The R1 million National Sale graduate Royal Insignia improved to run a fair fourth here, but he has a long way to go to recoup his purchase price.

Two up. Gavin Smith had a nice double today.

Warren Kennedy rode a double on the day for Gavin Smith and he was instrumental in finally getting a second win on the board for the Jet Master gelding, Spellcaster. He won the Pick Six opener, a Graduation Plate over 1900m, in convincing style from Inca’s Spirit, with the pacemaking C’mon Indy staying on for third. The 9-20 favourite Lord Badger landed up on the outside from a 6 draw and ran on one –paced for fourth. The excuse brigade will no doubt suggest that he didn’t stay the 1900m but he was expected to win this after four great opening runs. His run puts another potential question mark behind the Champion Juvenile Stakes form too – or should we give the youngster another chance?

The Smith-Kennedy combination then won the seventh race on the consistent On Golden Pond, who enjoyed the nice lead given him by the Way West gelding, Western Star. The enthusiastic pacemaker fell in a hole at the 300m marker as Kennedy let his mount free. The Fort Wood gelding, who runs in the Oppenheimer colours, has now won his third race in his last four starts and looks like he will enjoy it further.

Not alright! Cap Alright was a beaten favourite this afternoon.

Justin Snaith and Richard Fourie enjoyed a superb treble at Fairview on Friday, but Arlington did not provide them with the same sort of happy hunting ground today. Cap Alright was probably their biggest disappointment after he was slammed by the Barry Steenkamp-trained Tic Tak Toe, in the MR90 Handicap over 1400m. While not well drawn, Fourie got him over easily enough and he was always in a challenging position before capitulating to the superior finishing effort of the Sham gelding. Having attempted unsuccessfully in June of 2010 to win a maiden race at Fairview, it was not his first attempt at a right-handed turn and he had every chance today. He was sadly just not good enough and the puzzle of the collateral form of the Western versus Eastern Cape, once again proved difficult to fathom.

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