The Gr1 Golden Horse Sprint has always been a rather happy hunting ground for trainer Charles Laird. He registered his third straight win in the new improved R1 million version at Scottsville on Saturday, in the process also making it a hat trick for owners Ingrid and Markus Jooste and a great double for super sire, Var.
The Joostes also banked the runner up cheque, with Red Ray running his heart out for a 1,50 length second, just ahead of a flying Whiteline Fever. The race was run at a frenetic gallop and the time of 68,67 secs was the fastest of the afternoon.
In the end the draw may have been the dealbreaker for the outgunned Red Ray, but there is little to detract from the merit of Normanz’ top win.
Delago Deluxe had won in 2012, with Contador scoring in 2013. He found it tougher at the weights this year and Normanz’ victory was a tactical feat of genius by his trainer.
Laird said that he had originally felt that Normanz would stay a mile and he had tried to change his racing style last year.
“But that didn’t work and I said to Derek Brugman that we should aim to get him to this race with the right weight. It worked!” he said.
But the happiest team member would probably have been the 22 year old Benoni born jockey Athandiwe Mgudlwa ,who rode a cracker on Normanz to notch a career first Gr1 winner.
Glen Hatt was originally carded to ride the 3yo but was stood down earlier in the day. Mgudlwa had piloted Normanz to a good win in the Listed In Full Flight Handicap at his last start and Laird admitted afterwards that he probably deserved the ride in the first place.
Mgudlwa has really done very well at Scottsville. He rode his first winner there when Garth Puller’s Dream Model won on 3 June 2009.
In April 2011, he became the first apprentice since the legend Michael Roberts forty years previously to ride the jackpot.The exotic paid a rather healthy R13 450 which is proof that he was riding no pointers.
Former champion jockey Garth Puller spotted Mgudlwa’s talent a long time ago and is on record as saying: “He has good hands and a good temperament and listens. He is gaining confidence and is no longer being bullied out of position, he’s now bullying himself into position. I think he will continue to do well after he’s lost his claim as he has natural talent and has a good attitude.”
The former Head-boy of the South African Jockey Academy was at a loss for words at the post race interview .
“It is a really great honour to get the opportunity. I don’t know what to say. Hard work never killed anyone and I try and ride as much work as possible,” he quipped emotionally.
Normanz has now won 5 from 13 with 3 places and R910 950 in stakes. He sold for R650 000 on the Cape Premier Yearling Sale Book 1.
He was bred by Avontuur and is by Var out of the American Chance mare, La Normandie.
His half brother Tripandie (by Trippi) was bought for R3 million by Dean Kannemeyer at the 2013 NYS.
The dam has a full brother to Normanz at foot and is in foal to Silvano.