The Forest On Fire

Gr1 Premier’s Champion Stakes at Greyville on Saturday

Forest Indigo

Double Delight! Alec Laird’s Forest Indigo attempts to land a Gr1 double when he runs in the Premier’s Champion Stakes on Saturday

Varsfontein stallion Judpot has made a great start to his stud career and his son Forest Indigo will be a popular choice in what is bound to be a very hotly contested  R600 000 Gr1 Premier’s Champion Stakes at Greyville on Saturday. The Golden Horseshoe winner should enjoy the step up to a mile.

The juvenile form is often known to be subject to serious fluctuation, and even though Forest Indigo produced a gutsy and sustained finish to pip the flying  Kochka in the Gr1 Golden Horseshoe on July day, it is worth noting that only 2,40 lengths separated the first six horses home.

In The Mix

Throw in the factors prevalent on Saturday, some of which we know, and others which we don’t. Like barrier draws, the pace, different going and a bit of luck in running, and there really won’t be a lot to choose between the likes of Forest Indigo, Kochka and Willow Magic.

Then there is the omnipresent De Kock factor, as well as the matter of a certain Geoff Woodruff, who travels from Gauteng. A principled man that needs to be taken seriously. Take a note of that 11 saddle cloth! Then Brad Van Der Riet will be watching the progress of Heart Of A Lion with keen interest from the ice cold beauty of the Boland. The Gavin Van Zyl trained son of Vanree  Stud stallion Seul Amour goes for four in a row and looks something quite special.


Alec Laird’s Forest Indigo has won 2 of his 4 starts and has a stamp of class about him. A winner on debut, he was outpaced down the Turffontein straight next time before a nice third to Zambezi Torrent in the Listed Gatecrasher Stakes. He ran on nicely there and carried that improvement through to his superb effort in the Golden Horseshoe.

Forest Indigo was produced timeously by Kevin Shea, who jumps aboard again, and held off a flying Kochka. The Alyson Wright trained Kochka followed his good fourth behind Captain Of All in the Gold Medallion, by turning the tables on the Drier runner in the Golden Horseshoe. In so doing he almost caused a major upset.

Kochka just failed to nab Forest Indigo, and Glen Hatt dropped his rein in a cruel twist of fate. This time round Kochka is nastily drawn, while Forest Indigo has improved slighty on his barrier position There should be little in it between the two.

Tarry Triumph

Trainer Sean Tarry has won this race twice in the past three years with Gold Onyx (2010) and then the subsequently injured The Hangman winning it last year. The title chasing Tarry saddles SA Nursery winner Willow Magic and the debut winner, Mercado. S’manga Khumalo rides the Australian bred Willow Magic, with regular pilot Piere Strydom defecting (the right word?) to the Louis Goosen longshot, Bah.

Willow Magic finished a 2,30 length fourth in the Golden Horseshoe, but looks more a speed horse than a miler at this point. Mercado was coughing after running a quiet race in the Golden Horseshoe when over eight lengths back.



Impressive. The recent maiden winner Exelero looks promising but may lack the experience to win this

There are others with chances. The Vaughan Marshall trained Western Winter colt Exelero won well at the second time of asking and was backed as if the result was a formality. He could be anything, and may just lack the experience of some of is opponents.

Heart Of A Lion is proving something of a galloping billboard for Brad Van Der Riet’s Zabeel stallion, Seul Amour. The colt will be ridden by Weichong Marwing and comes in here off a hat trick of baby step wins. He has not drawn well, but holds Dominic Zaki’s Judicial. The latter runs sans alumites and also  has an 11 draw to overcome at his first KZN start, and his opening try in the big league.

Good Man


Real Threat. Mike De Kock’s facile debut winner Umgiyo is untested at this level and warrants serious consideration

Geoff Woodruff’s Windrush colt Principled Man won his maiden by over 7 lengths at the end of May, and then followed up winning his next start after being slow away. While there are no winners to bolster the strength of his winning form, he has run five good races and has a nice turn of foot. He could be the lurker for the ambitious exotic players.

Anthony Delpech and Mike De Kock team up with the beautifully bred Umgiyo, who cruised in to win on debut. The son of Danehill Dancer beat Assegai and Jay Boy by three lengths. The latter showed good toe last Sunday when going down a similar margin to another De Kock debut winner in the Silvano colt, Whistle Stop. Only Mike De Kock will know the value of that collateral, but Umgiyo is another who could be anything.

Tough Stuff

It looks tough for the rest. Bah enjoys the services of Piere Strydom, but ran poorly in the Gold Medallion and Golden Horseshoe.The innovatively named Daylami gelding needs major improvement to have a say. Karl Neisius rides the Mogok gelding Delaware Bay for Charles Laird.

This pacy fellow was beaten by Cape Cutter at Clairwood last time and needs to show that he can lift his game to this level. Justin Snaith’s Var gelding Forest Panther has drawn against the paint and is held on his Gatecrasher Stakes effort. Mike De Kock’s lightly raced maiden Gone Baby Gone has run two places, but was hanging badly last time and will need improvement to feature.

Var’s son Sagetator was an impressive course and distance maiden winner, but then ran wide before fading behind Cape Cutter last time. The Greg Ennion trained Sunday Sun ran below par in the KZN Yearling Sale Million and was reported to have made a respiratory noise. He has failed to deliver entirely on his promise, but it is worth noting that Sean Cormack sticks with him.


This is a fascinating race, where the prospect of an upset is highly likely. The Golden Horseshoe form is the natural guide and based on that Forest Indigo is our selection to beat Kochka. But there are many in with chances.

These include Gauteng raiders Heart Of A Lion and Principled Man, while the champion trainer has the unknown force of Umgiyo. Then Exelero is another untested in these waters.

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