The inhospitable Gauteng weather failed to deter a supreme effort by Brett Crawford’s brilliant Jet Master filly Thunder Dance, who downed the Mike De Kock big guns to win the R1 million Gr1 L Jaffee Empress Club Stakes run at Turffontein on Friday evening.
In an ironic twist, the winning Philippi trainer was magnanimous of his praise for the assistance given to him by the Mike De Kock team, who had looked after his filly in the build up to the race.
On an evening interrupted by rain accompanied by lightning, the appropriately named Thunder Dance’s win was a second Cape triumph in the race in four years, after the outstanding Dancer’s Daughter won it for Justin Snaith in 2009.
Festival Of Fire was easy to back at 8 to 1 on support for the De Kock trio,and those punters that chose to ignore the official handicapper’s ratings would not have seen the obvious, as Thunder Dance won as the best rated runner in the race.
The pace was on from the jump with the former Glen Kotzen trained Queen’s Command leading the way a few lengths in front of Thunder Dance, with Ilha Bela well placed in third.
Turning for home, Queen’s Command continued to gallop strongly with Teetan producing Thunder Dance down the rail for her run.
At the 300m marker the Cape challenger had taken command and she ran on strongly to win at 13 to 2 by 1,25 lengths in a time of 99,10 secs.
Coming off an unplaced effort in the Majorca Stakes on Met day, it proved to be a great training feat by the unassuming Brett Crawford, who was on hand with part owner Ian Longmore to lead the 510 kg beauty in.
The consistent Festival Of Fire ran on powerfully for second with Happy Archer enjoying the give in the ground to keep Amur Affair out of the place accumulator.
The favourite Ilha Bela was knocked out of contention when going for the same gap as the eventual winner about 300m from home, and never recovered to finish 4,75 lengths off in seventh spot. This run can probably best be ignored.
Winning trainer Brett Crawford said that the race was a ‘long time plan’ for the filly.
“This sort of prize money is not easy to come by. We were fortunate that she settled in so well in Johannesburg and special thanks to Matthew De Kock for all his hard work,” he said.
Crawford went on to say that the decision to travel to Johannesburg was weighed against the option of a wind operation. He paid tribute to Thunder Dance, saying she was ‘all heart and courage’ and that his worries about the rain were unfounded. “ She actually felt at home thanks to the rain,” he laughed.
The Highlands Stud sponsored winning jockey Karis Teetan said his mount had never previously felt as well as she did on the evening.
“She came out fast but there wasn’t much speed early. She has a lovely turn of foot, and she kicked smartly. I think during that last bit she was a bit scared of the lights,” he said.
Part owner Ian Longmore, who has owned horses for many years, said that it was decided in February to go for the race. He added congratulations to his trainer and called Teetan’s ride ‘excellent.’
A daughter of Jet Master, Thunder Dance is out of the Gr1 Fancourt Majorca Stakes winner Shadow Dancing, who was trained by Joey Ramsden and ran in the Longmore silks in her racing career.
The dual Gr1 winning Thunder Dance was registering a sixth win with two places from fourteen starts.
Her stake earnings total R1 545 729 and besides having plenty of racing left in her, she will make a terrific broodmare in time to come.