Form Book Up In Flames

Double for Schlechter as casino-style rockets rain down at Kenilworth on 22 February

Experience Counts. Gerrit Schlechter rode a top double today.

The Western Cape makes Kimberley and Arlington look like Royal Ascot or even a hint of Las Vegas on some days. The light drizzle of rain that fell intermittently at Kenilworth today was hardly an excuse either for a plethora of strange results.

They say that it takes only a millimeter of rain to cause endless traffic logjams in Cape Town and maybe the Cape jockeys are just as nervous as their drivers. The tentative displays by some of the local riding crew led to the braver jocks grabbing the initiative to boot home some unlikely winners.

Gerrit Schlechter has largely fallen out of favour with a few of his past employers and has had a torrid time of it since the highs of his J&B Met win in January 2011. But he is still worth every ounce of his experience and strength and grabbed the riding honours with a long-priced double on what was a very difficult afternoon at the office for punters.  Not a solitary favourite arrived on a miserable day on course and in the form book.

Not Shy! Blushing Grey streaks clear to cause another upset.

Word has it that Schlechter is looking for riding opportunities up North and the lightweight veteran would have done his prospects no harm with his determined display. His first win was in the MR 69 Handicap over 1600m when he got first run on his opponents on the moderate Piet Steyn-trained Dupont filly Blushing Grey. Frankly, ‘moderate’ is probably a little kind for the Bernard Kantor bred grey who has managed one win and no places from her first 16 racecourse starts. Maybe she needed the mile? Who knows.

Schlechter then steered Count Dumani up to grab the pacemaking Phalaborwa Express in the MR 72 Handicap over 1200m. The latter looked a winner, but the very fit Spies gelding fought on well. In fact Corne Spies is to be given all the credit as he is not scared to raid ‘stronger’ centres with his charges. Count Dumani ran just a week ago at Fairview.

Craig Du Plooy trains the Western Cape grooms at the local school and doesn’t ride a lot these days. He does however put his leg over the Marshall horses from time to time and it was for his longtime boss that he set the tone for the rest of the day when riding a balanced finish to drive the Alado first-timer Half Moon Hotel up to nab the free striding Stormy Ridge on the line in the opener, a Maiden Plate over 1200m. The winner started an unfancied 66-1 and according to the Allan Bloodlines website, ‘he is bigger than his full sister Moon Over Mobay(in training with Yvette Bremner in the Eastern Cape) and coming along nicely in his work.’ That sounds like a stock comment from most trainers but maybe some lucky punters found it prior to the race!

The colt races in  the silks of breeder Kirsten Rausing, who has had great success with her Alado offspring. Vaughan Marshall also sent out the third placed Sheriff Marshall, who ran a cracker.  Carl Burger’s Stormy Ridge ran a great race after setting the pace, and the grey Tiger Ridge colt should go in soon if he repeats this effort.

The Bald & The Beautiful? Carl Burger and Braam Van Huysteen lead Transcendent in.

Burger had better luck in the next race, a Maiden Plate over 1000m when Aldo Domeyer kept Transcendent rolling to foil the Corne Spies betting coup on Sacred Chayim – who did everything but win. Braam Van Huysteen has over sixty horses in training all over the country and he owns this gelding in partnership with Brian Katzen. Transcendent was having his eighteenth start and had only clocked up four places previously. The Stipes will no doubt be asking for an explanation.

The second race also started the rot for what developed into a terrible day for the powerful trio of Karl Neisius , trainer Darryl Hodgson and owner Hassen Adams. Trizas had been knocking hard to shed his maiden but ran unplaced in a moderate field.  Putney Flyer then started favourite in the third but had too much ground to make and nowhere to go when running a weak third.  Then Danavano jumped from pole in the fourth race over 1400m but could only plod into fourth place.  Once termed ‘our Igugu’ by her passionate owner, Rain Gal looked a fair bet to restore some respectability to the beleaguered partnership in the fifth race – but she ran a weak fourth in a rather ordinary nine horse field, behind the revitalized Margaret Court.   Punters will be entitled to be asking questions about the poor performances of these fancied runners and the forums will be alive with the usual post-mortems.

Felix Coetzee and Justin Snaith closed the day with the vastly improved President Of Pop, who recorded a hat-trick of wins when streaking clear to beat the unfancied Offertory in the MR 84 Handicap over 1200m. The son of Captain Al has now won four of his thirteen starts and must rank as one of the most improved horses in training. Difficult to believe that this is the same horse who could not win a Novice Plate in PE three months ago!

But after today, we’d believe anything is possible!

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