2010 SA Oaks heroine Arcola bounced back to form in no uncertain style with an easy victory in the Caradoc Gold Cup over 2850m, a race which was run on very soft ground and which proved to be a very considerable test of stamina, writes Matthew Lips.
Arcola had been beaten 13 lengths behind Ilsanpietro in a Listed handicap over 2450m four weeks earlier and it was Ilsanpietro (seeking a fourth Stakes win in succession) who started as the 2/1 favourite. Winning Leap not been beaten from three previous starts in soft going and was the 33/10 second favourite as Arcola started as a 9/1 chance in a field of ten.
Chico Azul had won this race with frontrunning tactics twelve months earlier and adopted that approach again, showing the way ahead of Rapid Flow and Winning Leap, with Cracker Jack next in line as Arcola was held up in the pack. Winning Leap joined issue with Chico Azul not long after turning for home and the two dominated proceedings for a long way down the straight as Ilsanpietro battled to quicken from his position in about midfield. Arcola, though, made much more rapid headway than the favourite, taking the short way home down the inside and striding clear from more than 200m out to win by four lengths under Gavin Lerena.
Ilsanpietro eventually did manage to get into gear, but Arcola was home and hosed by then and he could only snatch second prize by a neck from Chico Azul, who stayed on gamely all the way to the line. Winning Leap had not raced for three months and that might have told in the end as he ran out of steam to finish 1.75 lengths further behind Chico Azul in fourth. The likes of Mirage Drive and Vertical Takeoff were never able to get going at all and once again a lot hinged on who coped best with the wet conditions. Clearly, Arcola took to the soft going with no trouble at all and could be seen next in the Gr2 Gold Bowl over 3200m, but whether the form of the Caradoc can be taken completely at face value is another matter. Winning Leap will improve from this run and the 2010 Gold Bowl winner is doubtless being targeted at a bid to win that marathon for a second time, while one gets the strong feeling that Ilsanpietro will improve on what he showed here when he gets going which is less heavy.
Four-year-old Arcola is a daughter of Caesour out of the Foveros mare Star Of Africa, who won three races up to 2500m. Trained by Weiho Marwing, Arcola was bred by the Scott Bros and was purchased for R170 000 at the 2008 National Yearling Sale. She has won four times from 15 starts, earning R732 625.
Caradoc Gold Cup (SAf-G3) (3/26)Turffontein, South Africa, March 26, R200.000, 2850m, turf, soft, 3.09.47 (CR 3.01.34). ARCOLA (SAF), 56.5, b f 4, Caesour – Star Of Arcole (SAF) by Foveros (GB). Owner A Varonou and D Chinsammy; breeder C F De Vos (SAF); trainer W H Marwing; jockey G Lerena (R125.000) Ilsanpietro (BRZ), 59.0, b c 4, Mark Of Esteem (IRE) – My Little Life (BRZ) by Ghadeer (FR) Chico Azul (SAF), 56.0, b c 6, Shalford (IRE) – Dancing The Blues (SAF) by Rambo Dancer Margins: 4, nk, 1¾ Also ran: Winning Leap (SAF) 60.5, Power Lord (SAF) 55.5, Rapid Flow (SAF) 53.0, Mirage Drive (SAF) 58.5, Cracker Jack (SAF) 58.5, Vertical Takeoff (SAF) 60.5, Lion’s Blood (SAF) 58.5