The Lion Awakes

Gr1 Canon Gold Cup - Greyville on Sunday


For Sean Tarry, the last day of the 2010/2011 racing season will go down as one of his most memorable in a career which is already replete with big moments. He saddled the first two finishers to the Canon Gold Cup, at odds of 45/1 and 35/1 respectively, emulating the 2009 feat of Stephen Page, who saddled the winner Mokaro and runner-up Noblewood in that particular renewal of South Africa’s premier long distance race, writes MATTHEW LIPS.


A Gr1 contest may never seem like the ideal place to try something new by way equipment, but Tarry chose to try Aslan with blinkers and the only former Gr1 winner in a field of 19 for the Greyville 3200m marathon came alive with the headgear to leave most punters clutching at worthless tickets. Aslan had previously won the Summer Cup of 2009 at the highest level, but he had not won another race of any description since. Some rather spotty recent form and a very wide draw didn’t endear his chances to most experts ahead of the Gold Cup and even his stable companion Kolkata was (marginally) more fancied despite a big jump in class after winning a merit rated 74 handicap in his most recent appearance.


Heading the market was consistent proven stayer Ilsanpietro, whose preparation for the Gold Cup looked to have gone very nicely. He went off as the 22/10 market leader ahead of his stable companion Safwan, who was the 13/2 second choice of punters. In Writing and Knight To Remember were available at 15/2 at the jump, with Saluki finding support at longer prices.


Golden Parachute was the first to show, but coming to the finishing line with a lap of Greyville ahead of them it was 2010 Gold Cup runner-up Predestination who went on to set a modest enough pace on the good-to-soft ground which was the legacy of the heavy rain which forced the race to be postponed by 24 hours. Two Strikes was prominent with Golden Parachute just behind the leader, but Knight To Remember worked his way past horse up the back straight to eventually race in second spot. Power Lord and Aslan tracked the leading quartet, with Dance At daylight also creeping closer to dispute fourth spot with the likes of Golden Parachute once into the second half of the journey.


Ilsanpietro and Safwan were both travelling well enough in about midfield as In Writing was held up towards the rear.
Knight To Remember was quick to play his hand once into the straight, where he picked up a narrow advantage as Predestination weakened, but the dash up the run-in produced something of a cavalry charge with challengers coming on all sides. Ilsanpietro made steady progress wider out as Safwan tried to quicken up between runners and Jeppe’s reef briefly moved up with a very dangerous looking challenge, but Aslan had been nicely poised the whole way and quickened just too well for them all. The rising six-year-old arrived on the scene late in the day under a splendidly timed ride from Gavin Lerena, leading close home and repelling the challenge of stable companion Kolkata by about half-a-length to credit his jockey with a quick Gr1 double after the success of Potala Palace one race earlier. For Gavin, too, the closing day of the old term will go down as one to fondly remember forever.


Kolkata ran the race of his life to finish second in his last day as an official three-year-old and the Requiem gelding clearly has every chance of winning a decent race over ground in the new season. Knight To Remember was as game as ever and finished third after being ridden from closer to the pace than normal, showing no ill-effects from the more forceful tactics and coming out best of all those who had contested the Gr2 Gold Vase over 3000m at Greyville three weeks earlier. The form of that race tends to not stand up terribly well in the Gold Cup, although it is a pity that Gold Vase winner Grey Cossack had to be withdrawn from Sunday’s event, but Knight To Remember finished third in them both and cannot be faulted for honesty. Ilsanpietro stayed on all the way to the line and finished fourth, finding the task of conceding weight to the three that beat him evidently just a bit too much. Safwan may not have quite stayed the trip, with the same possible true of Jeppe’s Reef as well.


Aslan has had an up-and-down career and he can be a somewhat temperamental type who is regularly taken to the start well ahead of the others. That was again the case on Sunday, but the blinkers certainly got his attention in the race itself, although a great deal of credit has to go to his jockey for giving him such a splendidly judged ride from a deep draw.  A gelded son of the much-travelled and very successful German-bred Silvano, Aslan is the fifth foal and fifth winner bred from his dam Cry For The Lion. A daughter of the splendid broodmare sire Elliodor, Cry For The Lion never raced but she is out of Danseuse Classique, who finished third in the Gold Cup in the early 1980s. Danseuse Classique’s grandson has now gone two better in the same race, several decades and numerous changes of sponsor later.


Bred by Glenellen Stud and acquired for R250 000 at the 2007 National Yearling Sale, Aslan has now won five times from 23 starts for stakes of R2 239 375.

Canon Gold Cup (SAf-G1) (7/30)
Greyville, South Africa, July 30, R1 million, 3200m, turf, soft, 3.27.67 (CR 3.18.00).
1 –ASLAN (SAF), 57.5, b g 5, Silvano (GER) – Cry For The Lion (SAF) by Elliodor (FR). Owner Brooklyn Bullet Trust & L M Leisher; breeder Glenellen Stud (SAF); trainer SG Tarry; jockey G Lerena (R625.000)
2 –Kolkata (SAF), 52.0, b g 3, Requiem (AUS) – City Of Joy by Capitol South Knight To Remember (SAF), 53.5, gr g 4, 3 –The Sheik (SAF) – Model Royal (SAF) by Model Man (SAF)Margins: ½, ¾, neck
Also ran: Ilsanpietro (BRZ) 58.5, Jeppe’s Reef (SAF) 52.0, Dolomite (SAF) 53.5, In Writing (ARG) 58.5, Safwan (AUS) 58.5, Captain’s Wild (SAF) 60.0, Hawk’s Eye (GB) 57.0, Predestination (AUS) 55.0, Key Castle (SAF) 56.0, Power Lord (SAF) 54.5, Dance At Daylight (SAF) 56.0, Saluki (GB) 56.0, Golden Parachute (NZ) 55.5, Arcola (SAF) 57.5, Two Strikes (SAF) 57.0, Lorenzo Marques (SAF) 52.0

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