Silver Age was stepped up to 1200m for the first time and clearly enjoyed it when he sprang a 25/1 surprise in the Umkhomazi Stakes for two-year-olds over 1200m at Scottsville on Thursday, writes Matthew Lips. Silver Age had finished more than five lengths behind runner-up Soweto Slew when fourth in a Gr 3 over 1000m at Clairwood eleven days earlier and it was Soweto Slew who started as the 13/10 favourite in a field of seven for the Umkhomazi.
Easy recent course-and-distance maiden winner Ransom Of Choice went off as the 5/2 second choice of punters ahead of Pinot Noir, who’d made all the running to win a weak-looking Greyville 1300m maiden in his only previous start and who went off as a 3/1 chance here. Silver Age was the second biggest outsider of the party.
Ransom Of Choice blew his chances at the break when he jumped awkwardly and lost two or three lengths, a blow from which he never recovered. Storm Bringer cut out the running from Pinot Noir and Soweto Slew, with Silver Age within striking distance over on the inside rail. Pinot Noir began to weaken inside the last 300m, and with Soweto Slew finding little when asked to quicken it was down to Storm Bringer and a chasing Silver Age to dominate the finish. Silver Age tried gamely to hang on to his advantage, but Silver Age edged past in the closing stages under Anthony Delpech to win by half-a-length.
Liquid Motion stayed on to finish 2.25 lengths behind Storm Bringer in third, with Soweto Slew another three-quarters of a length adrift in fourth after running out of steam in his first attempt beyond 1000m. Pinot Noir weakened to finish last of all, although he did evidently lose a few teeth when banging his mouth against the front of the starting gates. He is probably somewhat better than this, even if the form of his debut success has amounted to little, while Ransom Of Choice can also not be judged on what he showed by finishing with only Pinot Noir behind him.
With valid excuses for at least some of the fancied runners this form may not stand up if and when Silver Age turns out again for the Gr 1 Gold Medallion over the same course-and-distance on May 28th, but he certainly improved going over the additional 200m and he was all heart in getting the better of a runner-up who had beaten an easy next-start winner by more than four lengths in the maidens last time out. Third placed Liquid Motion is probably an improving type who was starting for the first time since being gelded and who may be even better as a result, so this form can be considered reasonable even if it may not prove to be up to Gr 1 standards. Time will tell.
Silver Age is trained by Jeff Freedman, who paid R32 000 for the colt at the 2010 Michael Holmes Bloodstock Autumn Yearling Sale in Pietermaritzburg. Runner-up Storm Bringer was offered at the same sale, which is a very good advert for a catalogue which featured only 72 entries,, but this son of Mogok failed to reach his R50 000 reserve. Silver Age is a son of the Danehill stallion Requiem and is the fifth foal and third winner produced from Krusenstern mare Russian Belle, who won once over 1400m. There is no reason why Silver Age shouldn’t stay at least that far himself, as his sire won up to 2500m in Australia. Bred by Bruce and Nadine Le Roux at Spring Valley Stud, Silver Age has won twice from four starts for R166 650 in stakes.
.Umkhomazi S. (SAf-G2) (5/5) Scottsville, South Africa, May 5, R184.000, 1200m, turf, good, 1.08.84 (CR 1.07.00). 1- SILVER AGE (SAF), 56.0, ch c 2, Requiem (AUS) – Russian Belle (SAF) by Krusenstern. Owner F Vahab and Mr & Mrs L Goold; breeder Mrs & Mrs B Le Roux (SAF); trainer J E Freedman; jockey A Delpech (R122.000) 2 – Storm Bringer (SAF), 56.0, b g 2, Mogok – Cool Gold (SAF) by Goldkeeper 3 – Liquid Motion (SAF), 56.0, b g 2, Stage Call – Kadie (SAF) by Scuffleburg Margins: ½, 2¼, ¾ Also ran: Soweto Slew (AUS) 58.0, Copperloochee (SAF) 56.0, Ransom Of Choice (AUS) 56.0, Pinot Noir (SAF) 56.0