A Captain’s Innings By Marshall

Bakkies And The Boss Put The Boot In

Milnerton trainer Vaughan Marshall and his stable rider MJ Byleveld crowned a glorious Cape Guineas double at Kenilworth on Saturday when the Captain Al colt Tap O’Noth  stamped himself a leader of his generation with a fluent victory in the classic.

The Cape Guineas stampede (Pic – Chase Liebenberg Photography)

The Langerman and Cape Classic winner was earmarked from early days by his astute conditioner as a potential Guineas winner and the 66 year old horseman made it a fifth Cape Guineas success  – and may have also created a page in the history books after he saddled recently deceased champion stallion Captain Al to win the race back in 2000.

Marshall waited 16 long years for Captain Al’s son William Longsword to emulate his champion Dad in the 2016 renewal – but took just another 12 months to repeat the feat with another ‘Captain’. And the pressure will now be on for him to source another of the ill-fated champion sire’s offspring to make it a hat-trick in 2018!

But for now, the VHM Racing Team will be revelling in a spirit-lifting ending to a forgettable week for South African horseracing – and some satisfaction in knowing that they have contributed materially to finally bringing the 2017/18 season classic picture into focus.

MJ Byleveld salutes in triumph as Tap O’ Noth stays on to beat White River with Greg Cheyne in the saddle (Pic – Chase Liebenberg Photography)

And the veteran  showed that for all his years of experience, he was not too old to learn a new trick or two. After William Longsword’s Selangor Cup blot last year, he gave the traditional ‘Guineas trial’ a miss with Tap O’Noth.  And it worked a charm!

Jumping from the worst of the draw, MJ Byleveld punched Tap O’Noth into stride early and then settled the giant-striding handsome lad on the outside of his field in mid-rank as Gavin Lerena and Corne Orffer debated who was going to take up the early running – the honour eventually falling to a keen as mustard Sir David Baird, who took the initiative ahead of Bold Respect.

Lerena had ridden a cracker from the front on Milton earlier but Sir David Baird came under major pressure at the 350m marker as Wonderwall loomed menacingly, while Tap O’Noth was urged along in midfield by Byleveld.

With Tap O’Noth tending to want to lug out at the 250m marker, the honours were in the balance – until the Marshall runner gunned his jets and straightened out to finally get serious.

With the post looming, Tap O’Noth kicked powerfully and grabbed a length lead as Wonderwall ran out of puff.

(Pic - Chase Liebenberg Photography)

Vaughan Marshall and Alec Foster lead the winner in – Gillian Foster and John Freeman look on (Pic – Chase Liebenberg Photography)

Byleveld saluted at the line as Tap O’Noth proved too strong and held the late challenge of low-key Selangor Cup runner-up White River by a half length in a time of 98,93 secs. William Longsword won by a similar margin in a time of 99,34 secs last year.

The lesser fancied of the De Kock duo, Like A Panther, rushed out of the pack to grab third ahead of a fast-finishing Cot Campbell and a stopping Wonderwall.

The Glen Kotzen-trained Pack Leader was last most of the way and also signalled a possible Cape Derby bid when he flew late for sixth and 2,55 lengths off the winner.

Surprise Selangor Cup winner Rocket Countdown was beaten 4 lengths and failed to threaten or frank that victory.

Bold Respect showed early but blotted his copybook by fading out to 8 lengths off the winner.

Winning Avontuur-sponsored rider MJ ‘Bakkies’ Byleveld said that they ‘had never been so confident coming into a Gr1’.

The happy connections pose for the paparazzi (Pic – Chase Liebenberg Photography)

“The Fosters are great supporters and they deserve the win. And what a great team effort. My wide draw worked out well in the end – sometimes an inside draw on a long striding horse can be a negative. I wanted to be a bit closer and then he turned it on a bit quick when I asked him. But he found all the way to the line,” he said.

Trainer Vaughan Marshall said that Tap O’Noth had done ‘everything we have asked of him’.

“Thanks to Alec and Gillian Foster. They have been tremendous supporters. And MJ rode a great race. We decided to skip the Selangor as it was on the winter course. What a lovely day,” he added.

Tap O’ Noth was bred and raised at Varsfontein Stud by Alec Foster and is a son of Captain Al (Al Mufti) out of the one-time winning Wintersweet (Western Winter). This mare also produced the year older Strathdon (Silvano) who won the Gr3 Cape Summer Stayers two races later in the same silks – but this time for trainer Justin Snaith.

Tap O’Noth has won 4 races with 1 place from 5 starts for stakes of R966 250.

A wonderfully simplistic plan come together!


Gr1 Cape Guineas (SAf-Gr1)

Kenilworth, South Africa, December 16, R1 million, 1600m, turf, good, 1.38.93

1 – TAP O’ NOTH (SAF), 60.0, b c 3, Captain Al (SAF) – Wintersweet (SAF) by Western Winter (USA). Owner Mr A N & The Hon Mrs G R Foster; Breeder AN Foster; trainer VH Marshall; jockey M Byleveld
2 – White River (SAF), 60.0, b c 3, Trippi (USA) – Irish Torrent (USA) by Giant’s Causeway (USA)
3 – Like A Panther (SAF), 60.0, b c 3, Captain Al (SAF) – Della Scala (SAF) by Galileo (IRE)
Margins: 0.50, 1.25, 0.10

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