The Australian bred Dylan’s Promise became the first filly in SA horseracing history to win the Oaks for two years in succession when scoring at Clairwood on Sunday. The 4yo produced a top drawer display of stamina and courage to win the R300 000 Gr2 Betting World Oaks.
The original A Team of Laird and Marcus were rubbing their hands in glee when the racing operator tampered with the sanctity of a time honoured tradition and opened the Oaks up to all age groups.
And in very similar fashion to Hot Ticket’s plan-come-together in the old Derby a half hour earlier, the filly won as confidently predicted by her connections.
Part owner Alesh Naidoo must have just relished the Bookies’ generosity and she eventually went off at a mouthwatering 3 to 1.
With the pace dictated early by the visiting Jet Flo, it did not take Anton Marcus long to realise that some fuel was needed to fire the engines and he took Dylan’s Promise out to show the way from the 1900m marker and she led Jet Flo and Ash Cloud.
Marcus stepped on the gas into the straight and just as he had done in the 2013 Oaks, he took the course specialist to the outside rail.
Despite a nervous moment at about the 300m, she stayed on resolutely to repel the persistent Ash Cloud, with Shingwedzi staying on best of the rest for third. Dylan’s Promise stayed on strongly to hold Ash Cloud by 1,50 lengths in a time of 157,74secs. Shingwedzi finished very strongly to run into third. The Bass filly appeared to hamper Karl Neisius on the flying Star Jet, who had to settle for fourth.
Disappointments in the race were former SA Oaks winner Ilha Bela, who once again ran way below best, as well as the Geoff Woodruff trained Zephira, who failed to produce a kick when it counted.Winning jockey Anton Marcus was all smiles after the race and said as soon as the conditions were changed, the race was targetted.
“It is a pity it is only a Gr2, but this was a plan executed with military precision. She is a sort of female version of Jay Peg, if I can use that as an analogy to describe her courage and her heart,” he said.
Trainer Charles Laird confirmed that Dylan’s Promise was only really coming into her own at 4 and would get stronger into her 5 year old year.
“I must be honest and say that as a purist I was not excited about the change to the race conditions. But from a selfish viewpoint, I knew it was the perfect race for her. She also had exactly the same prep as last year. She has never given us a day’s problem. She is a super filly and she should go two miles.”
Laird would not be drawn on whether Dylan’s Promise would go for the July and the Gold Cup, or either.
Flamboyant flashy dresser and part-owner Alesh Naidoo was over the moon. “This was another top ride from a top jockey. I want to dedicate the win to my Dad. Dylan’s Promise is so small but she has a big heart.”
Bred by Austramore Pty Ltd and Cobra Bloodstock Australia Pty Ltd, she is by Dylan Thomas out of the Group winning Rigoletto mare, Madonna.
The R825 000 Ready To Run graduate Dylan’s Promise was registering an eighth win and third place from her 20 starts, and took her earnings to R782 330.
While the Dylan’s Promise connections were celebrating, there is a debate raging regarding the move to tamper with the Oaks and the Derby.
These two interesting observations from knowledgeable racing men may provide some food for thought:
“Both races changed their conditions, and their distance – in effect making it a new race. It is my understanding that when new races are introduced internationally that Grading will have to start from the bottom up (eg Listed) until a quality call can be made. The first Dubai World Cup and the first Breeders Cup Turf races did not start off with Gr1 status – in fact, they were not black type at all. History and tradition have an important place in racing world-wide. South Africa should not differ.” (Karel Miedema)
“The changing of this race, as Karel rightly points out, should strip it of its Graded status. There must be understanding and respect for the traditions of horse racing. New is not necessarily improved. I was going to run a filly of ours named She’s a Pippa. I wanted to run her against her own age group. If I wanted to run her against older horses under WFA conditions, I would have sought out that opportunity. But when this race was changed, it eliminated a final chance to run the filly against her own age group over a distance of ground. Tampering with this race robbed me and my filly of an opportunity.” (Barry Irwin)