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An Argentinian-bred son of the Bold Bidder horse Liloy, Prontisimo was imported from South America as a yearling. He was trained by master Terrance Millard and raced in the interests of Mr & Mrs Laurie Jaffee and Mr Des Scott. This very good looking colt was unbeaten in his four starts as a two-year-old and during the season won the Gr1 Cape of Good Hope Nursery, the Clairwood Nursery Handicap and the Gr3 Smirnoff Plate. A strained muscle prevented Prontisimo running in the Gr1 Administrator’s Champion Juvenile Stakes, for which he had been highly fancied.
After being crowned ARCSA Champion 2yo Colt for the 1983/84 season, Millard said his charge was “very straight-forward and has done everything asked of him. He was a very good two-year-old, but now we must see if he trains on. Our immediate object is the Richelieu Guineas – he’s shown a lot of speed, but he has a stamina pedigree and he should get at least a mile.”
He duly did, starting his 3yo campaign with a 0.75 length victory over Red Robe in the 1600m Computaform Stakes at Kenilworth on 1 December, before lining up for the 29 December Queen’s Plate. Having drawn 12, Prontisimo started 5/2 favourite, running wide all the way, and was not disgraced to finish 1 length behind winner, Spanish Pool and only a neck to second placed horse, Bodrum.
His next target was the 1985 Cape Argus Guineas on 2 February 1985. Despite drawing 15 out of 16, Prontisimo started odds-on favourite and duly delivered race fans one of the most thrilling Guineas finishes seen in years. The SA Racehorse ran the following report:
In a season otherwise dominated by the visitors in the Cape’s greatest triumph was the Richelieu Guineas, a race with a record of great winners and great finishes. It resolved itself in a spectacular fight between the Ralph Rixon-trained Clean Break, who had made all the running, and the Terrance Millard-trained Prontisimo, who was drawn one from the outside in a field of 16.
Speed, stamina and sheer guts got Prontisimo to the line a short head in front of Clean Break. Felix Coetzee must have had Prontisimo galloping as the stall gates opened for he surged a length clear of the field in a matter of strides, this enabling Coetzee to overcome Prontisimo’s disadvantageous draw and move him towards the inside rail.
Coetzee allowed Clean Break and then Timbavati to go past Prontisimo after covering 300m. Clean Break brought Timbavati into the straight with Prontisimo poised for his run just behind them. But Prontisimo’s early effort seemed to have taken its toll, for though he ranged alongside Clean Break half way up the straight he was unable to get the better of him.
Coetzee pulled out all the stops over the final 150m and Prontisimo, responding gamely, edged a neck clear. But Clean Break was by no means finished. With “Rooies” Fourie riding a most determined finish, Clean Break came again in the last strides and only a short-head separated them at the post. The fact that the third horse was nearly five lengths back speaks for the quality of the first two.
Mr and Mrs Laurie Jaffee and Mr Des Scott’s Prontisimo must rate among the best winners of the Guineas in its 31-year history – no small claim when one considers that its winners include such as Colorado King, Hawaii, In Full Flight and Politician. Whether he will live up to the subsequent achievements of his peers only time will tell. But the fact that the Guineas was his sixth win from seven starts in the best company – a record few three-year-olds can boast – certainly encourages hope for the future.
Millard travelled his star colt to the Transvaal to contest the 1800m Gr1 Southern Sun Classic on 2 March, finishing a head second to subsequent Queens Plate winner Yamani, who won the race in a new race record time of 1 min 49.7 secs. Prontisimo then joined the Millard string for the Durban winter season, notching a 0.75 length win over Chilli Bite in the 1400m UTA Natal Stakes at Scottsville on 20 April and setting a new course record in the process, stopping the clock at 1 min 23.09 seconds. In the 11 May SA Guineas run at Greyville, Prontisimo was drawn widest of all at 15, racing wide all the way and finishing 2.25 lengths behind Guineas rival, Clean Break.
His attempt at the 2000m Gr1 SA 2000 on 1 June proved his last start on SA soil. Despite drawing 13 out of 14, he started 2/1 favourite, but was again caught wide and finished 4th, 5 lengths behind Wild West.
Millard opted to scratch him from the July and Prontisimo was exported to race in the USA as a 5yo. He had 2 starts of which his best performance came when finishing 5th in a 1200m Allowance race at Belmont, 3/75 lengths behind champion sprinter Smile.
Prontisimo retired from racing with a career total of 13 starts in South Africa and the USA, for 7 wins, 4 places and R320 302 in stakes earnings.
He retired to Graham Beck’s Noreen stud in 1987 and stood a total of 10 seasons at stud, producing 100 foals of which 76 were runners and 41 were winners. The best of his produce was the 1994 Gr1 Sharp Electronics Cup winner, Tourisimo.