The Sound Of Silence

Gr2 Umkhomazi Stakes at Scottsville on Sunday

Silence Descends wins at Vaal 2014-03-27

Silence Descends, highly spoken of by his trainer, wins his third start by five with Strydom up and his odds in the red. Marcus gets the ride on Sunday

It is getting a bit annoying to have these Australian breds dominating our feature races, especially on the Highveld. But the season isn’t over yet, and the Gr1 races are looming. Then we’ll see!

There’s just a single Australian import in the 11-runner field for Umkhomazi sprint. And stone the crows, he has the highest rating so far with us. He’s Harry’s Son, whose grandam is a full sister to our champion Ruby Clipper, and whose dam is by Danzig stallion Anabaa, one of the best broodmare sires on our lists.

Harry’s Son made a winning debut, shortening from 5/1 into 14/10 favouritism. Always handy, he won going away from Straw Man. That was in January, and the race hasn’t produced any other winners – nothing to be concerned about as there haven’t been that many opportunities since in KZN, rain causing havoc.

Harry’s son fluffed his lines second time out, again over 1000m, and again short-priced, as 12/10 favourite (in from 5/2 in a small field of five). He raced handy, a bit green, and had no answer to the challenge of the filly Beloved Country (who runs in the next race on this card, taking on unbeaten Arria). Chances are this stiffer 1200m will be more to Harry’s Son’s liking, and he ought to improve on his current rating.

There are four unbeaten runners in this race, all making their second appearance. Antwerp was impressive when winning his debut, over 1200m at Clairwood. Always handy, he simply strolled away from his opponents, to by six. A big surprise was his starting price of 33/1 (from 12/1). It seems likely that the son of Right Approach will show good improvement on his current rating.

Cape visitor Harry Lime won over 1000m at Kenilworth at his only start to date, on very soft going. Always handy, he ran on well to win by some 3 lengths, at a price of 9/2 (in from 20/1!). He’s a son of Var, and should improve on his rating, which must be tentative given the state of the going when he won.

The third of the unbeaten group is another Var colt, Mastermind. He’d been set to make his debut in January (withdrawn with pharyngitis), then in February (withdrawn, lame), and finally the day came, early in March. Mastermind was always odds-on (7/10 to 1/3), but made heavy weather of it, and only got the upper hand late in a small field of six runners after faltering in the soft going.

The time of the race was the slowest on the day of the three sprints over this course and distance. His current rating puts him at the bottom of the list for this race and we’ll have to wait to see how brainy this R1 million yearling purchase is.

Also unbeaten in his only start is The Royal Rumba, a son of freshman sire Mambo In Seattle. He beat Easy Lover early in March over 1200m at Clairwood, coming from behind after a slow start and having to switch twice. He won going away, by a good length, starting at 13/1. His trainer spoke highly of him in the post-race interview, suggesting that there will be good improvement to come on his rating here, assuming he breaks on terms.

The Royal Rumba’s debut-run victim Easy Lover (also a first-timer) had been favourite that day (9/2 to 18/10), but missed the break, The son of Right Approach made a good effort to get on terms, but ran out of puff late. He did franked the form next time out with a 5-length win on soft going over this course and distance, in a field of seven. It’ll be interesting to see which of the two finishes ahead this time.

Gauteng visitor Game Of Thrones, a son of Black Minnaloushe, ran unplaced on debut at the Vaal at long odds (66/1), after showing pace and racing green. He showed again good pace two weeks later up the Turffontein straight, and kept it up to win nicely. He again hadn’t attracted much support, going from 6/1 to 12/1.

It’s not easy to figure out where he would feature in this line-up, but his trainer Azzie wouldn’t come here with a no-hoper, and Khumalo has the ride – even though his ‘regular’ trainer Sean Tarry saddles two runners, Kapitan and Silence Descends, both in a Van Nikerk/Jooste partnership. Marcus gets the ride on Silence Descends, who raced four times in Guateng.

He lost a shoe on debut, when 14/10 favourite, then took his chance in a feature race won by Banaadeer, when green and never getting a blow in. He finally won at third time of trying, over 1200m at the Vaal by 5 lengths, justifying the confidence his trainer had shown before the race. He started odds-on.

His fourth and final start to date was two weeks later up the Turffontein straight. He was favourite again (2/1 to 16/10), but after racing handy and hanging, could do no better than fourth. That clearly wasn’t his run (given the much higher rating produced when he won). Maybe Marcus can weave the magic here.

Tarry’s second runner Kapitan finished third on debut, over this course and distance.

Drifting from an opening price of 5/1 to 14/1, he showed pace, but ran green and finished a length third torace favourite Step To Fame who had his second outing. The latter, a son of Kildonan trained by De Kock, was always in command. Both will probably have improvement to come, with Kapitan expected to be able to turn the tables on Step To Fame.

That leaves Vaughan Marshall’s Man From Milan, a son of Antonius Pius. He won a Kenilworth 1000m on debut in February, showing good pace, running on. He’d drifted in the betting from7/2 to 8/1, so it looked on the cards that would improve for the run. Man From Ilan made his second start in the Gr3 Godolphin Barb over 1100m at Clairwood early in April.

Handy in a bunched field, he simply fell in a heap, beaten seven lengths. On ratings that effort wasn’t a shadow of his debut win, and probably best ignored. How good he is, or isn’t, the race will tell. As a KZN yearling sale purchase his real mission will no doubt be the rich Sale-race on July-day.

In summary, an open race, with a whole bunch of lightly-raced likely improvers. It is with much trepidation that we select Silence Descends to pick up the winning trail again, from the Royal Rumba, Harry’s Son and Antwerp. Sensible exotic punters may well be tempted to extend that list.

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