Drama As Mac Knifes ‘Em

Objection casts cloud over Gr1 thriller

Champions Season_520

It is obviously not the preferred way to decide Gr1 contests but the dramatic objection that overshadowed a thrilling finish to the R1 million Rising Sun Gold Challenge at Greyville on Saturday had a happy ending for some.

Mac De Lago Gold Challenge

Mac De Lago (Piere Strydom) and Trip To Heaven go head to head in a thriller

The connections of the Australian-bred 9 to 2 shot Mac De Lago will be smiling after the gelding booked his Vodacom Durban July berth with a deserved boardroom nod.

Trainer Weiho Marwing probably experienced some nervous flashbacks to the 2014 Durban July at the same venue,  when things didn’t end quite as well as they did for him on Saturday.

He lodged an objection following Mac De Lago going down in a thriller to Sean Tarry’s improved again Trip To Heaven, who ran a gutsy race from last into the straight after a hesitant start in the prestigious weight-for-age mile.

The SA punting public have enjoyed something of a tempestuous relationship with the obviously talented but enigmatic 4yo Mac De Lago over the past few seasons.

Often touted and tipped, he has run some top-class races but his only win prior to this sizzling Gr1 credit was a modest first in an MR 79 Handicap at Turffontein at the end of 2014.

But he has been around the big league block a few times and despite a lack of silverware in his cupboard, has run some top-class races without delivering the killer blows – and was pitched at 16 on the Vodacom Durban July published on 30 May. And after this – dare we say slightly hollow – victory, will surely take his place in history on 2 July.

Grant van Niekerk

Grant Van Niekerk – rode Trip To Heaven and lost it in the boardroom

Marwing’s objection came as no surprise after Trip To Heaven, despite the efforts of replacement jockey Grant van Niekerk, had shifted in under pressure on to Mac De Lago over the last 250m, and in the process cost his opponent some involuntary valuable ground.

The Stipes came back with an ‘upheld’ verdict and it was another body blow for the Sean Tarry yard after a tough couple of weeks, dogged by suspicions of a virus in their Joburg base.

After their 3yo Prospect Strike had done the donkey work, the stable’s rising popular July fancy Frenchy Navy got going late to finish third, another 1.75 lengths back in an excellent prep, that would have provided some compensation for the boardroom disappointment.

Piere Strydom - another cracking ride

Piere Strydom – second SA Champions Season Gr1 in seven days

French Navy was two lengths ahead of Drill Hall Stakes hero New Predator, who looked dangerous late – but almost seems more effective at 1400m.

The winner’s time was a smart 95,48 secs.

The 7yo 28-10 favourite Ice Machine failed to produce a finish and ran 6 lengths back.

Gold Circle Marketing Executive Graeme Hawkins threw a light-hearted spin on some tense moments in the post-race presentation when he said that it was Piere Strydom’s ‘first Gr1 as a 50 year old!’

Graeme Hawkins

Graeme Hawkins – witty statistical chirp

Striker, who rode Talktothestars to win the Gr1 Tsogo Sun Sprint just a week earlier, celebrated his half century birthday on Tuesday this week – as well as a new 5000 winner milestone as a fully fledged jockey.

Mac De Lago was bred in Australia by G Downey and was purchased by James Bester Bloodstock for A$65 000 off the 2013 Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.

He is a son of Fairy King stallion Encosta De Lago and is out of the six-time winning Vettori mare, Macavelli Miss.

Lightly raced, Mac De Lago has won 3 races with 4 places from his 13 starts and doubled his stakes tally to R1 238 750 on a profitable afternoon.

Despite the forecast rain holding off, there was quite some evidence of kickback on the track but no negative feedback from anybody involved.

The countdown to Africa’s biggest day of racing continues with the Vodacom Durban July weights being published on Tuesday 14 June.

We can’t wait!


Gr1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge  (SAf-Gr1)

Greyville, South Africa, June 11, R1 million, 1600m, turf, good, 1.35.48

1 – MAC DE LAGO (AUS), 60.0, b g 4, Encosta De Lago (AUS) – Macavelli Miss (AUS) by Vettori (IRE). Owner Messrs H Adams, C F Delport, D Chinsammy, Lawrence Pillay, T J Smith & O D T Visser; Breeder bred in Australia; trainer WH Marwing; jockey P Strydom
2 – Trip To Heaven (SAF), 60.0, b g 4, Trippi (USA) – Helleborus Blue (USA) by Cee’s Tizzy (USA)
3 – French Navy (SAF), 60.0, b g 4, Count Dubois (GB) – Redoubtable (SAF) by Elliodor (FR)
Margins: 0.05, 1.75, 2.00

Click on the banners to find out more

VDJ New Stake_520

Have Your Say - *Please Use Your Name & Surname

Comments Policy
The Sporting Post encourages readers to comment in the spirit of enlightening the topic being discussed, to add opinions or correct errors. All posts are accepted on the condition that the Sporting Post can at any time alter, correct or remove comments, either partially or entirely.

All posters are required to post under their actual name and surname – no anonymous posts or use of pseudonyms will be accepted. You can adjust your display name on your account page or to send corrections privately to the EditorThe Sporting Post will not publish comments submitted anonymously or under pseudonyms.

Please note that the views that are published are not necessarily those of the Sporting Post.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments



Popular Posts