Trainer Sean Tarry added a potential new dimension to the Cape Guineas picture when his Australian bred Willow Magic slammed his field to win the R500 000 Gr2 The Dingaans run over a mile a Turffontein on Saturday under a superb ride by Piere Strydom. The Gr1 SA Nursery winner also emphatically buried fears that he would not stay the mile.
Strydom’s quip after the race that overcoming his wide draw to place himself in a match winning position was ‘pure luck’ did no justice to a polished performance by horse and rider that must surely have thrown a curved ball into the hometown hopes for a Cape Guineas victory.
With recent Ready To Run stakes winner Captain America just one of a host of promising Cape 3yo’s likely to line up, the Guineas should produce one of the most hotly contested clashes in recent years.
And for Sean Tarry the disappointment of the raid into the Cape for the colts’ classic by last year’s Dingaans winner The Hangman, will now seem like a distant memory.
In a field of sixteen, the punting sentiment that it was a race in two between the Graham Beck Stakes winner and runner up was on the mark. Mike De Kock’s Silvano gelding Whistle Stop went off at 12 to 10, with 9 to 2 freely available about Willow Magic.
As You Like led Mount Hillaby and Bold Inspiration early, with Umgiyo stretching just ahead of Willow Magic, who had overcome his wide gate, through ‘pure luck’, as we have learnt.
As You Like continued to gallop up the home straight down the inside rail as Willow Magic gradually angled outwards in fifth position. Strydom made his move up the centre of the track at the 400m with Bold Inspiration going with him and Whistle Stop two lengths in arrears on the outside.
Willow Magic hit the front at the 200m and kept on powerfully to beat Whistle Stop, who had no answer, by two lengths in a time of 97,60 secs.
Alec Laird’s Bouclette Top caught the eye when running on well for third, and he is one for the notebook.
Strydom said that he had found himself handy in view of his mount’s natural speed and thanks to some ‘gentlemanly’ conduct on the part of his colleagues, he had secured a perfect position on the rail.
He paid tribute to Tarry’s conditioning skills saying that Willow Magic Impressed him with the way he was striding out, compared to his early days. He also thanked Chesney Van Zyl for suggesting he took the Tarry ride, as opposed to his first choice of Heart Of A Lion, who was not 100 percent fit as a result of his recent gelding.
An elated Sean Tarry exclaimed that ‘this horse is a bomb.’
He thanked Strydom for a perfect ride and also his brother Mark who had selected the youngster.
Willow Magic has now won 3 of his 10 starts for 7 places and took his stake earnings to R1 283 100.
An Au$ 40 000 purchase, he was bred by Rothwell Park of New South Wales and is a son of Dubawi out of the thrice winning Tierce mare, La Willow.
Willow Magic’s biggest fan, part owner Satch Mathen, said afterwards that ‘everybody I know is on course.’ He added there was never any doubt that his prized colt would win.
After Mathen’s comments following the SA Nursery win that Willow Magic (and not Red Ray) was the ‘real boom horse’, one can imagine that he cannot wait to bump the Ramsden star in the Cape Guineas.
That prospect adds some additional needle to a race that is shaping up into a thriller.