The Derry Air

Alderry wins Gr2 November Handicap

Much has always been expected of Alderry and the four-year-old rewarded the patience of her connections with an emphatic win in the Peermont Emperor’s Palace Charity Mile over 1600m at Turffontein (standside) on Saturday.  Victory in the race which was better known as the Germiston November Handicap in the good old days before racecourses were being closed down faster than liquor stores during Prohibition marked a first Stakes success for Alderry, who was one of only two females in the 16 strong line-up for this premier handicap event, writes Matthew Lips.

Blinkers were fitted to Alderry for the first time since she failed narrowly to win the Gr 1 SA Fillies Classic in March, but not many punters have her a second look in this company and Mike de Kock’s four-year-old went off as a 15/1 outsider.  Predictably, Pierre Jourdan was all the rage after winning his seasonal debut at Gr 3 level four weeks earlier and he was very heavily supported to go off as the 14/10 favourite despite racing on handicap terms for the first time in his life.  Captain Scott and Galanthus had finished close behind Pierre Jourdan in that October event and were weighted with decent chances of reversing the form here.  They respectively started as the 6/1 and 15/2 second and third favourites in a lop-sided market which paid little heed to the handicap nature of the race.  These contests are usually more open than most people seem to realize, and the Charity Mile proved to be no exception.

Galileo’s Galaxy is a proven frontrunner and wasted no time coming across from an unfavourable draw to lead, setting a solid pace from Master Blaster and Vertical Takeoff, with Pierre Jourdan about five or six lengths off the action as Alderry was also waited with in the bunch.  Captain Scott and Bulsara were not very far off the action as the field turned for home, where Vertical Takeoff went to the inside for his run and Galileo’s Galaxy continued to lead wider out.  The race began to change complexion rapidly 400m out, where Galileo’s Galaxy was coming under fire from all directions.  Alderry made rapid progress in eye-catching style and soon stamped her authority on the race.  She quickly opened up a sizeable advantage and had the race won more than 200m out, running on very well under Anthony Delpech to win by 2.25 lengths from Thandolwami, with Pierre Jourdan staying on but battling to really accelerate before finishing the identical distance further away in third.  Bulsara stayed on and was a neck adrift of the favourite in fourth, but Captain Scott and Gailileo’s Galaxy both weakened some way out while Galanthus was never in the race with a chance.

Thandolwami ran on strongly from the rear of the field to beat all except Alderry and put up his best effort for some time.  Craig Eudey’s KZN raider took his career earnings to more than a million rand in the process and Thandolwami richly deserves to win at least one valuable race, but he was never going to trouble the winner.  Pierre Jourdan may yet come on from this run, but he really had plenty to do on the handicap terms.  He rose above the form of his seasonal debut, again beating those who had finished close behind him on less favourable weight terms there and he lost very little in defeat.  This was never likely to be a simple task for Gary Alexander’s star, and to resort to the old “second run after a rest” excuse would probably be missing the point by a mile.  The Gr 1 Sansui Summer Cup (again on handicap terms) later this month will also be a hard race for him to win.  Not impossible, but hard.

“It has taken us a long time to get to the bottom of her and to get her fully fit,” said De Kock about Alderry afterwards, the champion trainer having made no secret of the high esteem in which he holds the filly.  De Kock was openly disappointed when Alderry could only finish fourth behind stable companion Flirtation in the Gr 3 Yellowwood Handicap against her own gender the previous weekend, but what we saw in the Charity Mile is evidently what Alderry’s connections have been seeing back home all along.  When asked if the filly would now go for the Summer Cup, De Kock nonchalantly replied, “we might as well, what the hell.”  Just how much of a penalty the handicapper will give her for this win remains to be seen, but the step up to 2000m won’t trouble Alderry at all.

Alderry is a daughter of now-retired former champion sire Al Mufti.  She is the fourth foal and second winner of Fort Wood mare Derry Wood, who won three races up to 1600m.  Derry Wood is also the dam of Royal Vintage, a Gr 2 winner for De Kock in South Africa before going on to win at Gr 3 level in Dubai.  Bred by Avontuur Thoroughbred Stud and acquired for a hefty R1 600 000 at the select session of the 2008 National Yearling Sale, Alderry has won three times from a dozen starts and earned R686 775 in stakes for owner Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum.



TURFFONTEIN, South Africa, November 6, $88,620, 3&up, 1,600mT (7.95fT), 1:36.15.

1st—=ALDERRY (SAF), 120, B. f. 4, Al Mufti—=Derry Wood (SAf), by Fort Wood. Owner—Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa al Maktoum; Breeder—Avontuur Thoroughbred Farm (SAf); Trainer—Michael F. de Kock.

2nd—=THANDOLWAMI (SAF), 121, Ch. g. 6, Woodborough—=My Sweet Love (SAf), by Prontisimo (Arg).

3rd—=PIERRE JOURDAN (SAF), 135, B. g. 4, Parade Leader—=Vin Fizz (SAf), by Qui Danzig.

Margins: 2 1/4, 2 1/4, 1/4.

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