Mike De Kock’s promising 3yo Festival Of Fire made full use of the weight advantage to show her elders a clean pair of heels and establish a new course record in the R165 000 Gr3 Joburg Spring Challenge run over 1450m at Turffontein on Saturday.
The lightly raced daughter of Kahal registered her first font of black-type and looks to have the world at her feet with the riches of the Gauteng spring season ripe for the picking.
The good horses somehow find the good trainers and Mike De Kock has had much success and good fortune with the progeny of Kahal. It is early days, but the mature and decisive manner of the youngster’s win spoke volumes of plenty to come.
Festival Of Fire went off at a rather generous 9-2 and the race went much according to plan, although De Kock may have been disappointed with the performance of his beautifully bred 2-1 favourite Berry Blaze, who was always under pressure and finished a rather modest fifth and 5,50 lengths off the winner. In her defence, the Irish-bred daughter of Danehill Dancer may have needed the run and may be a little more competitive over slightly further.
The race was run at a solid clip with Sean Veale taking the Doowaley mare Louvre into an immediate lead from Without Malice, while Demanding Lady was nicely tucked away in third with Festival Of Fire galloping well within herself a few lengths back in fourth. The rest were fairly well strung out with Hawker Hunter guarding the back ranks.
Turning for home Louvre continued to gallop strongly with Malaga-Belle and Without Malice shortening strides as Derreck David gathered Festival Of Fire for her challenge.
Running into the final 300m, David produced the Kahal filly down the centre and she streaked clear to win going away by 1,25 lengths from a game Demanding Lady. Louvre ran the race of her life to stay on well for the third cheque, after being in the midst of the action for much of the trip.
The winning time of 85,6 secs eclipsed Imperial Gesture’s existing record of 85,80 secs, set on 2 February 2010.
Festival Of Fire was bred by Chris Saunders and Lady O’ Reilly in KwaZulu-Natal at the beautiful Invermooi Stud. She races in the yellow, blue and black O’Reilly silks and was sired by Kahal out of the one-time winning daughter of Russian Revival, Fuel The Fire.
Festival Of Fire took her career stake earnings to R186 625 at her first Highveld run and for her first stakes win at just her fourth start. This was an impressive third victory and she has earned at every outing.
She can only continue to improve and while the weight conditions of this race may strongly favour the 3yo’s, there is nothing wrong with winning as decisively as she did in course record time.
Spring Challenge (f&m) (SAf-G3) (10/6)
Turffontein, South Africa, October 6, R165.000, 1450m, turf, good, 1.25.46 NCR (CR 1.25.56).
FESTIVAL OF FIRE (SAF), 52.0, b f 3, Kahal (GB) – Fuel The Fire (SAF) by Russian Revival (USA). Owner & breeder CJ Saunders & Lady C O’Reilly (SAF); trainer MF de Kock; jockey D David (R103.125)
Demanding Lady (SAF), 59.5, b f 4, Dynasty (SAF) – Demanding Damsel (USA) by Deputy Commander (USA).
Louvre (SAF), 60.0, b f 5, Doowaley (IRE) – Prive (SAF) by Saumarez (GB)
Margins: 1¼, 1, nk
Also ran: Without Malice (SAF) 60.0, Berry Blaze (IRE) 60.0, Katy’s Lane (SAF) 59.5, Go Indigo (SAF) 59.5, Hawker Hunter (SAF) 60.0, Amur Affair (SAF) 59.5, Malaga-Belle (SAF) 59.5