The First Ladies Club

Gr2 Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks, at Turffontein on Saturday

Cherry On The Top

A Top Tiger! Cherry On The Top only has to maintain her recent outstanding form to emulate the champion Igugu when she contests the Gr2 SA Oaks

There is no such thing as a racing certainty, but one has to delve deep into the realms of fantasy to conjure up logic that suggests that Cherry On The Top will not emulate the achievement of 2011 SA Triple Tiara winner Igugu and take her place in our Hall Of Fame. After winning the first two legs, Cherry On The Top approaches the final hurdle of the R750 000 Gr2 Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks on Saturday on a high.

The Mike De Kock trained Igugu is the only previous filly to wear the fabulous crown. She achieved that in 2011 and just two years later Ormond Ferraris’ daughter of Tiger Ridge stands on the brink of immortality.


Owned by SA Racing’s first lady Bridget Oppenheimer, she has already won both the Gauteng Fillies Guineas and the SA Fillies Classic, and a win here will see her bank the R1-million bonus. Not that this is much about the money at all. It is much more a case of leading the pack and breeding and racing the best. It is also about power families.

Tiger Ridge stands at Wilgerbosdrift and the owner of the sponsoring farm is Mary Slack, Mrs Oppenheimer’s daughter. Nepotistic? Nope. Let’s label it fantastic, and shout the yellow and black silks home. We need the champions and the equine heroines.

Not Easy

Finding a filly amongst her ten opponents to beat Cherry On The Top is not an easy task.

Cherry On The Top has won 7 of her 10 career starts, and goes into this event in top form. She won the first two legs of the Tiara with ease, and while the step from the mile to the 1800m of the second leg was handled in her stride, she is now asked to go an extra 650m. But so are her opposition.

Cherry On The Top’s ruthless racing style may have to be tempered to suit the challenge. In her last two wins, she hit the front about 500m from home and powered away from her field to win with ease. Nooresh Juglall knows her well enough by now, and will conserve her energy and ride her with a touch of restraint. Not that she overraces or is unproffesional in any way.

While she has won down at 1400m, we have litte doubt that she will go the journey on Saturday. Her good dam Carolina Cherry is a daughter of Fort Wood, and won from 1000m to 2400m, including an Oaks victory.

Cherry On The Top has them stone cold and beaten previously. Is there any point saying more?


Geoff Woodruff’s Do You Remember has played the bridesmaid role in both the Fillies Guineas and the Classic and gets the opportunity to set the record straight here. Her dam Festive Occasion won this race for Geoff Woodruff in the same De Broglio silks in 2007, so there are great expectations resting on the appropriately named Do You Remember’s shoulders.

One gets the feeling that were Cherry On The Top to fluff her lines, that Bernard Fayd’herbe will have Do You Remember there to pick up the pieces, and next to Jet Belle she is surely the only real threat to the favourite.

Her stablemate Secret Obsession has won one race over a mile, and looks like a potential pacemaker in this event. She should not threaten on what she has shown to date.

Dark Horse

Robbie Sage’s Jet Belle has won 2 from 4, and her run here must feel like a world away from her 1200m debut win at the same track. This little number continues to attract our attention as a dark horse. She comes off two fair efforts in the first two legs. In both runs she was running on well enough, and on breeding she should relish the trip. Her mom Bella Bianca won seven races from a mile to 3200m, including the 1998 Gold Cup under Felix Coetzee. So she has the right stuff flowing through her veins.

Piere Strydom gets back aboard Fire Wheel, a filly on whom he won four runs back.

After her excellent third behind Alexandra Palace in the Sea Cottage Stakes, she went a gross 29 lengths combined behind in the Guineas and the Classic, and has no chance with Cherry On The Top on those performances. She is another who tries the ground for the first time.

Reality Check

Weiho Marwing’s coupling of Sky Pirate and Moikavano may warrant inclusion on the pure reality that they go the distance.

The Victory Moon filly Sky Pirate has always had this race as her main target, and the Allez France winner should be very much at home over the trip. It is however disappointing that she faded so badly in the Fillies Classic. Moikavano has come on giant strides since winning her maiden in a work rider’s race at the Vaal over a mile. In her penultimate start she ran on strongly for second in the Sun Chariot behind Rhythmic Roxy, and then did well to stay on for fourth in the Oaks Trial. One imagines that Piere Strydom could have ridden her here, but he has opted for the Tarry runner.

Better Further

The Oaks Trial winner Tuscan Lass is trainer Robbie Sage’s second representative in this race.

The daughter of Spectrum has improved as she goes further and gets her first chance to show what she is really capable of. Her victory in the Oaks Trial was an impressive one as she had to barge her way through a gap and she went on strongly to win a good race. Joey Soma’s Rue De Rivoli has won twice from her 15 starts and tries the trip for the first time. She was a fair sixth in the Oaks Trial, and could fetch a place if luck goes her way.

Brett Warren’s Princess Line won her maiden over 2600m and had nothing to come in the final stages of the Oaks Trial where she ran eighth. She looks outclassed at this level.

David Niewenhuizen’s Billie Joe won her maiden second time of asking over Saturday’s course and distance, and ran a fair fifth in the Oaks Trial behind Tuscan Lass last time. She gets thrown into the deep end and appears to have soundness issues.

Pick The Cherry

It is in the nature of us racing people to overanalyse and try and find the horse to dethrone the champion. The history book, the calculator and the emotion keeps telling us different though and to stay with Cherry On The Top.

One of our veteran top trainers will not be making any mistakes and she will be primed to the second. Her jockey knows her well. She has the blood.

She has beaten them before. She should do it again.

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