Howells Tames Visiting Attack

Weather and interrupted work may mean excuses for some!

KZN jockey-trainer combination Muzi Yeni and Duncan Howells turned their season around in under two minutes at Greyville on Friday evening when the Australian-bred Ten Gun Salute powered his way into Vodacom Durban July contention with an emphatic victory in the R500 000 Gr2 Betting World 1900.

Ten Gun Salute is well clear under Muzi Yeni

The feature is one of the ‘preferred inclusion’ events on the July selection panel’s calendar and there will be little arguing that the 4yo, who was not in the big race top 25 up to the feature jump, has now booked his berth with a quite convincing post-injury display.

While some of the more fancied runners may be crying crocodile tears with excuses of interrupted work in a week of duck-friendly weather in the holiday province, the Howells Racing Team and a jockey frankly in danger of being consigned to the label of a ‘Kimberley Monday’ specialist, will be celebrating a plan come together.

In winning form! Muzi Yeni

The palpable elation expressed by the Winning Form-sponsored Muzi Yeni on his return to the winner’s enclosure was probably mostly an expression of relief by South Africa’s official hardest working jock.

Yeni’s millions of air-miles and his 1170 rides this term have delivered a modest 9% win strike rate and while he retains a top eight position on the log, his work rate must surely be unsustainable in the long run.

But there was little wrong with his judgement here as he relaxed Ten Gun Salute off a mixed pace set by Serissa and Banner Hill, and brought the Australian-bred galloper around his field as they came into the home run.

His effort was sweetly timed as he grabbed two lengths on his field and the gelding ran on best and all the way to the wire.

As fellow July hopeful Tilbury Fort stayed on well, and Silvano sons Mr Winsome and Elusive Silva were catching their strides, Yeni had made his move at just the right moment and with the 33-1 Ten Gun Salute in full flight they had no chance as the Howells charge ran on too well to win by 1,50 lengths in a time of 118,87 secs.

The 3yo Tilbury Fort enjoyed the best of the draw and ran a decent race after his SA Classic shocker, where he pulled up lame and had made respiratory noises.

Winning duo – Yeni and Howells

Cape Derby winner and July ‘dark horse’ It’s My Turn will come on nicely with this run under the belt and plugged on a half length back, dead-heating  for third with Dean Kannemeyer’s gutsy Mr Winsome – who came from last into the straight, had to switch out to get a run and ran on powerfully.

The consistent Silvano gelding’s connections may be considering a July supplementary entry on 29 May on this score.

Sledgehammer winner Elusive Silva (fifth and 3,25 lengths back) started favourite but had no answers when called upon and the weather-and-no- work factor will remain an unknown in his case. A poser for his supporters!

The rest were well beaten with Geoff Woodruff’s Master Switch doing his July prospects no favours with a poor effort.

Physio Beth Shaw – credited for great work

Ashburton-based trainer Duncan Howells attributed Ten Gun Salute’s dismal effort in the Drill Hall Stakes at his previous outing to a back muscle issue and paid generous tribute to physio Beth Shaw and his own team.

Muzi Yeni felt that he had learnt how to ride Ten Gun Salute and said that he had ‘used him too much’ in last year’s July when 8th and 3,25 lengths behind The Conglomerate. That bodes well for a Durban trip on the opening weekend of July for enthusiastic owners Heinrich and Werner Kuhn.

Originally bought – some would argue stolen- at the Inglis Classic Yearling Sale in January 2014  by Heritage Bloodstock for A$10 000, Ten Gun Salute was offered at the Lanzerac Ready To Run Sale in October 2014.

David Allan of Allan Bloodlines outlayed R1 150 000 there for the half-brother to ten winners – headed by the likes of Gr3 South Australia Classic victress Red Typhoon (Hold That Tiger) and the Stakes-placed Bella Princess (Flying Spur).

The winner is by former Coolmore shuttler Henrythenavigator (USA) out of Ladybird Blue (Bluebird), who was placed in the Gr1 South Australia Oaks and is a dual Stakes winner who traces in female line to Noble Lassie, the dam of Vaguely Noble.

The winner as a yearling

Ten Gun Salute, whose previous biggest score was in the Listed Michael Roberts Handicap in January 2016, has now won 4 races with 5 places from 16 starts for stakes of R702 400.

This Gr2 victory was a major psychological score for the much maligned KZN racing community who seeemingly resigned themselves weeks ago to watching their Cape and Gauteng counterparts hog the SA Champions Season limelight and the glory.

Just goes to show that this game tames tigers!

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