Gr3 Racing Association H – Gorongosa

Gr3 Action

Gorongosa - Very impressive stayer

The female of the species once again proved deadlier than the male when Gorongosa ran out a comfortable winner of the Racing Association Handicap over 3200m. The Irish-bred mare had finished a well beaten third in a Listed handicap on her sole previous foray into Stakes company, but she is a progressive stayer and went off as the 3/1 second favourite in a field of 11.  Heading the market at 22/10 was Kolkata, runner-up in the Gr 1 Gold Cup over the same distance at Greyville in July and second again – ahead of Gorongosa – in a 2450m Listed handicap won by Ilsanpietro in October.

Gold Cup winner Aslan and Gorongosa’s stable companion Atyeb took turns at setting a decent enough pace, with Kolkata and Mirage Drive next in line as the eventual winner bided her time in the pack.  The field was reduced to ten when Dunraven parted company with his rider Glen Hatt at around the 1800m mark, appearing to stumble for no immediately obvious reason.  Former Gr 2 Gold Bowl winner Winning Leap tracked the leading quartet into the straight, where Kolkata was quick to make his move.  The favourite appeared to be full of running when he led them into the final 400m, but he was worn down inside the last furlong by Gorongosa.

Delivered with a confidently judged ride by Anthony Delpech, Gordongosa was clearly travelling much too strongly for Kolkata as she ranged up alongside and then drew away to win by 1.5 lengths from the ever consistent but somewhat luckless market leader.  Atyeb didn’t have the finishing kick to match either Gorongosa or Kolkata and finished 1.75 lengths further away in third, with Mirage Drive failing to quicken before finishing a well beaten fourth over a distance which again seemed to be a little beyond his optimum.

Irish-bred Gorongosa is a five-year-old trained by Mike de Kock for Mary Slack’s Wilgerbosdrift farm, and the black type which she earned for this win will make her a valuable addition to the stud’s broodmare band when the time comes.  There is almost certainly more to come from Gorongosa, and in the words of her jockey, “there is not too much around who will beat her over ground.”  Indeed, Gorongosa took care of a field which included both the first two finishers from the most recent Gold Cup, and while she did carry joint bottom weight of 52 kgs she confirmed that she is emerging as a marathon runner of considerable note.  What will sweeten her victory even more is that Gorongosa was badly injured earlier in her career, and there was a time when connections thought it unlikely that she would ever race at all.  Clearly, the mare is made of some seriously stern stuff, and she has a lovely pedigree to go with her racecourse triumphs.  A daughter of 1999 Arc winner and outstanding sire Montjeu, she is out of the French-bred Ezzoud mare Parvenue and has won six of her nine starts to date for earnings of R388 825.

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