Here To Stay!

Kenilworth 10 December

Met Material! Chesalon cruises in to win the Premier Trophy for Bass.

After their big day last Saturday with the running of the Gr1 Avontuur Estate Fillies Guineas, the beautiful  Boland home of fine wine, fast horses and super-stallion Var,  had plenty of reasons to celebrate again at Kenilworth on 10 December. Avontuur bred the emphatic winner of the Gr2 R300 000 Calulo Services Premier Trophy when Chesalon rocketed clear in the final 300m.

With the heady heights of the Pocket Power era now consigned to history and the pages of tribute books, veteran trainer Mike Bass would also no doubt have breathed a quiet sigh of relief to see that he has at least one genuine J&B Met horse in his yard. Beyond the impressive winner, he sent out Super Storm and English Garden in this important lead-up feature. The latter finished tailed off in a walk and apparently bled from both nostrils.The SA Classic winner is unlikely to run again in the Sizzling Summer Season. On the other hand, Super Storm ran on well enough for fifth at his third run after a rest, but the 2011 Cup Trial winner, despite his flattering 106 rating,  gives the impression that he is just not quite good enough at this level a lot of the time.  Bass could prove us wrong on this score.

Chesalon is a beautifully-bred four year old gelding who is showing all the right signs after enjoying the proven patient Bass formula of a quiet three year old winter away from the hustle and bustle of the KZN Champions Season. Joey Ramsden followed the same route with his big horse Winter Solstice some years ago, and Bass did the same with Pocket Power, before he became a household name. Chesalon has certainly done little wrong. A winner of five of his twelve starts, he won the Gr3 Winter Classic over 1800m with ease, and was then hampered in the Winter Derby over 2400m before going down second to Nysean Bolt – the horse he beat so comprehensively in the Classic.

Judging on his recent form and the fact that he appears to be a horse who always give of his best, the 1600m of the Gr2 Green Point Stakes may have proven just short of his best at this level, while the 2400m of the Derby, a small bridge too far. His off-the-action-late-dash style of running suggests he will be a huge factor in the Met.

He was given a peach of a ride by Jockey Bernard Fayd’herbe, who  made an immediate impact at his first meeting back in the Cape after a stint in Mauritius, when he not only grabbed the feature race winning cheque but also rode the Lammerskraal Stud’s La Belle Helene to a runaway win in the Maiden 1400m.  Fayd’herbe had Chesalon a lot handier than normal in the top five and sent him on his way with 300m to go.

Bred by Avontuur, he is out of the brilliant Goldmark racemare Sarabande. The grey flyer, who won the Gr1 Majorca Stakes in 2004 under a vintage Marwing beating the brilliant Perfect Promise, was trained by Joey Ramsden and owned by Peter and Pirjo Carr in her racing career.  Sarabande has an Avontuur Sauvignon Blanc reserve named in her honour. In terms of their marriage of wine and horses approach, each year one of their wines in their premier Black Label range is named after one of their equine residents. A nice touch!

As for Chesalon’s step into the limelight, we were assured that there are only celebrations and absolutely no regrets down Avontuur way. In line with their policy, they sell all their colts. As GM Pippa Mickleburgh points out, ‘we cannot keep them all!’  Pippa explained that Chesalon was not sold through the ring, but was put together by Mike Bass.

Dunes Buggy! Mike and Ingrid Stewart lead the Zeppel speed queen in.

The smashing three year old half-brother to Chesalon by Jet Master, named Zapeteo, is unraced and in training with Alec Laird, while Pippa excitedly pointed out that Avontuur offer yet another half-brother by Jet Master, named Zortziko, at the 2012 Cape Premier Yearling Sale. One to watch out for. To put the cherry on top of a great day for the stud, Var sired the winner of the MR90 Handicap over 1000m. The speedy Varushka stepped out against some capable males and gave them a lesson in speed galloping. Owned and bred by Hattie Zeppel, Mike Stewart produced the filly in fine trim for her fourth win from 26 starts. She is out of the unraced Elliodor mare, Fame Academy.

The most impressive winner on the programme was trainer Bill Prestage’s Ferocity gelding Born To Be Wild. The four year old has now put his behavioural issues well behind him and he took on the first genuine test of his career when contesting the MR86 Handicap over 2500m. Always up in the vanguard and beautifully confidently ridden by Chris Puller, he drew clear at the 350m marker to win in good style. He beat EP Derby winner Vengence with the hard-knocking Another Giant in third place. In a category that doesn’t boast too many stars in this country, Born To Be Wild looks well on his way to being a serious staying feature contender, with the J&B Reserve Stayers over 2800m on Met day, his most likely short-term goal.

Partnered at all his racecourse appearances by the talented Puller, he has now won three of his five starts, and has run two seconds at the other two – the first over 1200m! He looks a very progressive sort and a helluva buy at R95 000!

Here To Stay! Born To Be Wild(Chris Puller) looks a top sort in the making.

The eighth race, an MR86 Handicap over 1600m, was labelled by most pundits as the most open contest on the card. And they were not far off the mark. Richard Fourie took Paddy Power up to make the pace and the Snaith horse ensured a good gallop from Great Kalli with Blanic in third. Recently changed yards from Vaughan Marshall to Piet Steyn, Con Yiannakis and Savas Pastellides’ Blanic has inched back to form in his new environment and showed his well-being with a gallant win over the long-striding Great Kalli. Blanic is very capable on his day and clinched his sixth win from 29 starts for stake earnings of close on R280 000. Of the balance, D’Angelo is threatening to win his second race at any time, and he stayed on best for third.

On a lighter note, commentator  Alastair Cohen and on course presenter Rod McCurdy entertained Tellytrack viewers  at the meeting relocated from Turffontein to the Vaal. Gavin Lerena rode four winners on the day, but the unremarkable programme did little much else to excite. As always though, the irrepressible McCurdy was there with a few pearlers and chirps to induce a smile. In their preview of the Eighth race, Cohen asked the Aussie about Louvre(ironically the eventual winner) and whether he had ever heard about The Louvre. McCurdy said an emphatic no, and went on to ask Cohen where it was. Cohen’s retort of ‘somewhere in South America’ confirmed that neither had too much of an interest in art, culture or geography!

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