A diabolically slow pace took some of the shine off the R300 000 Gr2 Betting World Derby run over 2400m at Clairwood on Sunday. The form may prove suspect but trainer Greg Ennion and jockey Muzi Yeni won’t be complaining as their master plan came together sweetly.
It has been quite a Champions Season for Greg Ennion. Having won the Listed East Coast Handicap and the Listed Queen Palm with Feel My Love with only a handful of runners, the Capetonian turned the smart Jet Master gelding Master Plan out in fighting trim to score in a tactical race under Muzi Yeni, whose fourth win it was in a long month.
The lack of a pacemaker in the eight horse field was always going to play into the hands of a horse with the toe and acceleration of the eventual winner and on reflection, Master Plan was probably not winning entirely out of turn.
Ennion, a man who could have sung professionally if he had some of the breaks that Tom Jones got, is the eternal optimist and he warned those that wanted to listen as far back as February that Master Plan was on track for bigger and better things. And the arrival of major playing international owner Fred Crabbia has made a major difference to the stable strike-rate and the bounce in the Ennion step.
It is probably a little known fact that leading owner Marsh Shirtliff was given his induction into racehorse ownership via the Greg Ennion stable courtesy of top horses like Dramdor and La Mancha, and while Shirtliff has spread his wings and gone on to greater things since, Ennion has been through a few quiet summers. But the wheel is turning – like it always does in racing.
Master Plan had run a cracker of a second to Beach Beauty under a light weight in the Greyville 1900 a month ago and his subsequent run when showing handily behind Jackson in the Daily News 2000 was not bad at all. He finished seven lengths behind the July favourite at level weights there, and things just panned out very well for him on Sunday.
Off a sedentary pace the 15-10 favourite Tribal Dance led for much of the journey three lengths clear of Premium Wood and Penhaligon, with the fancied Taipan cantering along in in fourth. Shogunnar was the back-marker for much of the journey.
Turning for home MJ Byleveld got the East Cape Derby winner to quicken quietly as the challenges started coming. Master Plan and Red Fort commenced quickening wide out while a few of the runners were caught flat-footed as the race turned into a pace battle.
But Yeni was sitting with confident body language and plenty in hand, and while Tribal Dance matched him for a few strides, it was race over as and the Jet Master gelding drew off to win convincingly.
Geoff Woodruff’s Red Fort stayed on best to pip Taipan for fourth spot.
Master Plan went on smoothly to win by two lengths in 156,54secs. The slow pace is outlined by the reality that this was a full 9,24 seconds outside Hawkins’ course record. The Betting World Oaks run 35 minutes later was run in 154.62 secs.
While last year’s dramatic Derby winner IL Saggiatore is making a name for himself in Mauritius,and won a cracker just twenty-four hours earlier in the Gr2 Gold Circle Mauritius Guineas Cup run over 1600m at the Champ de Mars on Saturday, this year’s Derby crop was not a vintage one by any stretch of the imagination. This fact was not aided by the lack of pace. A great pity indeed and we thus won’t write off the prospects of the likes of Taipan and Shogunnar, who had no chance to show their capabilities in the end.
The Varsfontein Stud –bred Master Plan is out of the six-time winning Royal Chalice mare Princess Polly. Singapore-based owner Fred Crabbia went to R350 000 for him at the National Sale.
Master Plan is a winner of 4 of his 12 starts for 4 places and a total of R399 600 in prize money.
Result:Betting World Derby (SAf-G2) (6/24) Clairwood, South Africa, June 24, R300.000, 2400m, turf, good, 2.36.54. 1- MASTER PLAN (SAF), 58.0, b g 3, Jet Master (SAF) – Princess Polly (SAF) by Royal Chalice (SAF). Owner A L A Crabbia; breeder Varsfontein Stud (SAF); trainer GW Ennion; jockey M Yeni (R157.500) 2 -Tribal Dance (SAF), 58.0, b c 3, Tiger Dance – Navajo Angel (AUS) by Vettori (IRE) 3 -Red Fort (SAF), 58.0, b g 3, Fort Wood – Red Dor (SAF) by Elliodor (FR) Margins: 2, 1½, ½ Also ran: Taipan (SAF) 58.0,Premium Wood (SAF) 58.0, Shogunnar (SAF) 58.0,
Penhaligon (SAF) 58.0, Idaara (SAF) 58.0