Fighting Warrior – Gr1 Golden Horseshoe

Fighting Warrior - Snatches victory at Greyville on Saturday

“It ain’t over until the fat lady sings” could fairly have described the Zulu Kingdom Golden Horseshoe over 1400m at Greyville on Saturday.

Fighting Warrior appeared to come from virtually nowhere to snatch victory in the dying strides of this two-year-olds contest and those who’d put their faith in this 11/1 chance probably had to check twice to make sure they weren’t seeing things.

Gimmethegreenlight came into the race unbeaten from four previous appearances and was the 7/10 favourite to retain his spotless record.  Rio Carnival had defeated Fighting Warrior by a neck in a minor Feature over 1450m at Clairwood in June and was the 11/2 second choice even though he’d been beaten 1.5 lengths by Gimmethegreenlight over 1300m at Greyville earlier that month and now met his rival on 4 kgs worse terms.  Mushreq was one of three entries from the Mike de Kock stable and went off as the 8/1 third favourite in a maximum field of 16.

Things didn’t take long to start going pear-shaped for more than one of the contestants.  Mushreq played up inside the starting gates and had to be taken out to be examined by the veterinary surgeon before being passed fit to race.  None of this helped Gimmethegreenlight, who has a history of being slow away even when things run smoothly and who wrecked his chances here by losing some three lengths when the race did eventually get under way.   Mushreq showed no ill-effects from his pre-race antics and immediately went off to set the pace at a decent tempo, with Storm Bringer and Sidestep nearest to him as Laser Bold raced in fourth spot.  Rio Carnival was waited with in the pack as Fighting Warrior and Gimmethegreenlight raced further back.

Sidestep was quick to challenge Mushreq for the lead once into the straight, where Gimmethegreenlight was brought wider out to try and pull the irons out of the fire.  The hot favourite had simply given away too much start, though, and never really looked like winning.  The race appeared to lie between Sidestep and Mushreq inside the final furlong, with the latter coming back to regain to advantage close to home.  Fighting Warrior was running on strongly from off the pace, but the race looked to belong to Mushreq until the very dying stages, where Fighting Warrior shot up on his inside to stick his nose out on the line and win by a long head under Stuart Randoph.  The gallant Sidestep was three-quarters of a length further behind Mushreq in third, with Gimmethegreenlight another half-a-length adrift in fourth.

The latter did well in the circumstances to be beaten less than 1.5 lengths by the winner and his many backers would be justified in believing him to have been a very unfortunate loser.  Hard Rock stayed on to finish close up in fifth, but Rio Carnival never got into the race and was beaten just more than four lengths into 12th place.  In contrast to the Golden Slipper, this equivalent event for the boys produced a blanket finish and all things considered the form may not really prove to be completely reliable, but Fighting Warrior had to live up to his name to win and looks a progressive type.  Mushreq deserves plenty of credit for only surrendering the advantage almost on the line after doing all the donkey work and not helping his cause by playing the fool in the pens.  Gimmethegreenlight will be back to fight another day, although it may be debatable whether he will be a contender for major honours at three or whether he will prove to have been a smart, precocious two-year-old.

Fighting Warrior is trained by former Zimbabwean Ivan Moore and this success must rate amongst the highlights of the ex-jockey’s career.  It’s always good for the health of the sport to see some new faces in the winner’s box after a big race.  An Australian-bred gelding, Fighting Warrior is by Gr 2 winner and Gr 1 producing sire Magic Albert (by Zeditave) out of the Wallenda mare Dark Blue, who won four races over 1200/1400m in Australia.  Dark Blue is also the dam of much vaunted (but currently sidelined) Royal Zulu Warrior and is herself the half sister to a Gr 1 winner in New Zealand.  Fighting Warrior was purchased by Andy Williams’ World Wide Bloodstock for Aus $29 000 at the 2010 Magic Millions Gold Coast yearling sale and is raced in partnership by Williams and Fred Crabbia.  He has won twice from six starts for stakes of R387 217, and he appeared to run far enough above his previous form on Saturday to suggest he is an improving type who could go on to more big things. – Matthew Lips


Golden Horseshoe (SAf-G1) (7/2)
Greyville, South Africa, July 2, R500.000, 1400m, turf, good, 1.23.75 (CR 1.21.13).
FIGHTING WARRIOR (AUS), 58.0, b g 2, Magic Albert (AUS) – Dark Blue (NZ) by Wallenda (AUS). Owner A L A Crabbia and A Williams; breeder Attunga Stud (AUS); trainer I S Moore; jockey S Randolph (R312.500)
Mushreq (AUS), 58.0, b c 2, Flying Spur (AUS) – Alharir (AUS) by Jeune (GB)
Sidestep (SAF), 58.0, b c 2, Mogok – Glamorous Gal (SAF) by Sportsworld
Margins: head, ¾, ½
Also ran: Gimmethegreenlight (AUS) 58.0, Hard Rock (SAF) 58.0, Tennessee Strategy (AUS) 58.0, Storm Bringer (SAF) 58.0, Ginepri (ARG) 58.0, Astro News (SAF) 58.0, Silver Age (SAF) 58.0, Laser Bolt (SAF) 58.0, Rio Carnival (AUS) 58.0, Second Tycoon (SAF) 58.0, Moon Of Rangoon (SAF) 58.0, Guantanamera (SAF) 58.0, Red Lotus (SAF) 58.0

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