Gr3 Algoa Cup – Forest Of Dean

Forest Of Dean must be getting accustomed to the road trip between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.  He’s undertaken the journey twice in the space of three weeks, but it doesn’t do him any harm and his return trip to the Eastern Cape produced the desired result when he narrowly won the Betting World Algoa Cup over 2000m at Fairview on Sunday, writes MATTHEW LIPS.

Forest Of Dean had been a fast finishing second over 1800m at Arlington at the end of September, obviously doing enough in the process that he was worth bringing back to PE for the Friendly City’s most valuable handicap.

A full field of 18 lined up for Fairview’s showpiece event, with In Writing sent off as the 28/10 favourite after finishing second in a Listed handicap at Durbanville a month earlier.  Mystic Moon looked particularly well in the parade and the canter-past and was the 5/1 second favourite, with Forest Of Dean supported from an ante-post call of 8/1 to start as the 6/1 third favourite in a race that almost everyone was universally agreed would be won by an out-of-town visitor.

The first attempt to get the Algoa Cup underway ended in pandemonium and a false start, when the starting stalls – in the words of the official Stipendiary Stewards’ report – suffered from a “technical malfunction.”  In fact, they simply failed to open.  When they eventually did it caught almost everyone unawares, with the field emerging from the gates in dribs and drabs, resulting in a false start.  The second time around things went a lot more smoothly and the stalls opened upon demand from the starter, but it is a rather scary thought that Fairview’s gates are just five months old and are already highly unpopular for a variety of reasons.

That the gates chose to malfunction at the start of the track’s biggest race is Murphy’s Law in action and could perhaps be put down to sheer bad luck, but we’ve already seen them getting blown over in high winds and many jockeys have complained that if a horse plays up in the gates there is no way for it to exit the prison.  The usual escape route for a trapped horse of exiting under the front gate is not an option in this model – indeed, even the stalls handlers cannot depart via that route and have to clamber up the framework and out the back.  Panic is the remaining choice of any horse unfortunate enough to become entangled in these gates and it’s no surprise that many jockeys are less than enamoured with a contraption whose landed cost must have been a pretty penny or two.

Well, anyway, Fairview’s sparkling new stalls eventually behaved themselves and the Algoa Cup field went on its merry way.  October Club soon worked his way to the front and set a decent pace from Predestination and Mystic Moon in the early stages, but it didn’t take long for a change in the running order behind the pacemaker.  Flighty’s Last moved around rivals to race in second, with Ecole Militaire just behind her as Mystic Moon settled into fourth ahead of Vangelis.  Forest Of Dean was nicely positioned a few lengths off the pace, with In Writing well back.  Thanks John trailed the field as October Club continued to show the way.

Paddy O’Reilly had been amongst the backmarkers at the top of the straight, but he made rapid headway down the inside to just about strike the front briefly.  October Club was still in the fray as Mystic Moon and Predestination weakened from 300m out, with Makzoos trying to get into it as well.  The race was wide open coming towards the last 200m, but Forest Of Dean was making good headway and picked it up under Karis Teetan, going at least a length up on his rivals and then just holding on to deny fast finishing 50/1 outsider Key Castle the honours by a head.  The latter was running on strongly wide out, but the post came just too soon for Jacques Strydom’s gelding to record what would have been a memorable win for the home team.

Hawk’s Eye was the runaway winner of the Algoa Cup in 2010 and ran on very strongly to finish third this time, only a neck further behind Key Castle.  The long Fairview run-in seems to suit Hawk’s Eye very well and this was a particularly sterling performance by Joey Ramsden’s gelding as he started from the extreme outside stall.  October Club earned some recompense for his efforts by finishing fourth, less than two lengths behind the winner.  Paddy O’Reilly weakened to finish seventh, with Mystic Moon a very tame 11th and In Writing making no impact whatsoever before finishing 16th, 12.5 lengths behind the winner.  Surfin’ USA was the winner of this race in 2009, but he is not the same horse these days and finished 12th.  Peculiarly, the veterinary surgeon reported that Surfin’ USA finished with “oil in mouth.”  Just where it came from is hard to imagine, but our friends the starting stalls seem the only logical suspect.

Forest Of Dean is trained by Paddy Kruyer, who remarked that it had been his intention to leave the six-year-old gelding in the care of Alan Greeff after his first foray to Port Elizabeth, but later changed his mind and sent his charge home to Cape Town.  Winning rider Karis Teetan noted that Arlington hadn’t really suited Forest Of Dean in that earlier race and that the long Fairview run-in brought out the best in his mount.

Forest Of Dean is by Silvano out of the five times winning Jallad mare Princess Faberge, whose third winner and first Stakes winner he is.  A consistent sort who hardly knows how to run a poor race and who has only once finished further back than second from what is now eight attempts at 2000m, Forest Of Dean has won eight of his 28 races in total.  He was bred by Frank Sharp, who co-owns him with Margaret O’Hara, neitgher of whom was on course for the occasion.  Forest Of Dean has now earned R609 887, but he won’t be easy to place from here.  He shouldn’t get too big a penalty considering the narrow margin of success, but winners of the Algoa Cup tend to find it difficult to win many more races (if any) and it is distinctly possible that this will go down as Forest Of Dean’s finest hour to the end of his days.

Algoa Cup (SAf-G3) (10/23)
Fairview, South Africa, October 23, R350.000, 2000m, turf, good, 2.03.17 (CR 2.02.72).
FOREST OF DEAN (SAF), 56.5, b g 6, Silvano (GER) – Princess Faberge (SAF) by Jallad.
Owner Mrs M O’Hara and Mr F W Sharp; breeder F W Sharp (SAF); trainer P P Kruyer; jockey K Teetan (R218.750)
Key Castle (SAF), 54.5, b g 8, Qui Danzig – Bluffit (SAF) by Dancing Champ
Hawk’s Eye (GB), 55.5, b g 6, Hawk Wing – Inchiri (GB) by Sadler’s Wells
Margins: nose, neck, 1½
Also ran: October Club (SAF) 56.0, Makzoos (SAF) 56.5, Tic Tak Toe (SAF) 54.5, Paddy O’reilly (SAF) 57.0, Social Master (SAF) 53.0, Thanks John (SAF) 55.0, We Three (SAF) 57.0, Mystic Moon (SAF) 58.0, Surfin’ Usa (SAF) 60.0, Predestination (AUS) 55.0, Ecole Militaire (SAF) 57.0, Shipwreck (SAF) 54.5, In Writing (ARG) 57.5, Flighty’s Last (SAF) 54.0, Vangelis (SAF) 60.0

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