The Jacaranda Handicap for fillies and mares over 1800m proved to be a triumph for champion trainer Mike de Kock, who saddled the first two finishers, although most punters would not have shared in his delight as it was 14/1 outsider Checcetti who gunned down her much more fancied stable companion Flirtation to land the spoils, MATTHEW LIPS
Flirtation had not won a race since capturing the Gr1 Summer Cup in November 2010, but a very promising effort on the Turffontein inner track earlier in March suggested she was on the comeback trail and she was supported from an ante-post 5/2 to start as the 19/10 favourite in a field of ten. Hawker Hunter was the 4/1 second favourite ahead of Without Malice (9/2), who’d beat Flirtation on similar weight terms three weeks earlier but who appears to have a preference for Turffontein’s inner course.
Without Malice again attempted to make all the running and set the pace from Queen’s Bay, Lizzie Arden, and Secret Babe, but the race changed complexion altogether by the time the field was half way down the home stretch. Flirtation made smooth headway from off the pace to lead 300m out, with Secret Babe still very much in contention, but Checcetti quickened much too well for them all and got to Flirtation around 100m from home before running on well under Tshwaro Appie to win by 1.25 lengths. Secret Babe was another 0.75 lengths away in third, with Varlet fourth, but Hawker Hunter was never a threat while Without Malice faded to finish with only one behind her and 9.5 lengths behind the winner.
Checcetti, who was posting her first Stakes success, is clearly particularly effective over 1800m and is now unbeaten from two tries at that distance. A four-year-old daughter of stalwart KZN stallion Kahal, she is out of the Listed-winning
Royal Prerogative mare Dancer’s Choice. Bred at Summerhill Stud and bought for R320 000 at the 2009 Ready To Run Sale, she has won four times from 16 starts for earnings of R378 150.