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Mary’s Sparkling Water Runs Deep

Hollywoodbets Durban July countdown

Wilgerbosdrift owner Mary Slack is living every owner’s dream. Over the past two weeks, she has tasted international success not once, but twice.

And her dream run of success could very well continue this weekend at Hollywoodbets Greyville, when her splendid homebred filly Sparkling Water lines up in the country’s premier race, the Hollywodbets Durban July.

The Mike de Kock-trained four-year-old is by Silvano, whose record in the race is unparalelled.

Sparkling Water and Al Muthana go through their paces at the official big race gallops (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

The former Maine Chance linchpin has sired a quartet of July winners to date, the first of which, Bold Silvano captured the race in 2010, while Heavy Metal followed suit three years later.

In 2015, Silvano created his own unique history when siring a Maine Chance-bred trifecta, his sons Power King, Punta Arenas and Tellina filling the first three places. Two years later, champion Marinaresco led home paternal Al Sahem in a blanket finish, with the Silvano filly Nightingale carrying Mary’s colours into a joint fourth place.

Sparkling Water may be the proverbial rose amongst the thorns on Saturday, yet she is no stranger to downing male rivals.

Earlier this season, she defeated Golden Pheasant and fellow July runner Astrix in the Gr3 Victory Moon Stakes, again proved best in the Gr2 Western Cape Stayers, and was beaten two necks in the Gr2 Colorado King Stakes won by another July candidate Second Base.

In her most recent start, she found only Astrix her superior when going down by a head in the Gr1 Premier’s Champions Challenge.

At last week’s official Hollywoodbets Durban July gallops, she gave notice of her well-being when matching strides with stable companion and recent Gr1 Horse Chestnut winner Al Muthana.

It’s been eleven years since a filly last wore the winning sash, that being champion Igugu, who like Sparkling Water, was trained by De Kock.

For Mary, it would be a first Durban July winner. Her link to the iconic race is a tangible one, as her late parents won it no less than six times and we are sure she would love to continue the family tradition!

2004 Gr1 Vodacom Durban July winner Greys Inn

At the recent Royal Ascot meeting, her three-year-old colt Claymore opened his stakes account in the Gr3 Hampton Court Stakes in just his fourth start. The son of New Bay, who is trained by Jane Chapple-Hyam, bounced back from a disappointing effort in the French 2000 Guineas.

Incidentally, Claymore was bred by Guenther Schmidt, whose family sold 1973 German Oaks winner Oraza to Mary’s late father Harry Oppenheimer. A small world indeed!

History will show that Oraza’s stakes-placed daughter Countess Palotta was sent to Mauritzfontein where she became ancestress of champion juvenile Seventh Plain, Gr3 winner East Wind and Gr1 Gold Cup third Ile Maurice.

Claymore’s win provided compensation for the disappointing effort of Wilgerbosdrift UK-bred Aikhal in the opening days Gr1 St James’s Palace Stakes. To be fair though, the colt was making his seasonal debut after an absence of nearly eight months.

Top class Claymore

However, who but the Aidan O’Brien-trained three-year-old resurfaced barely a week later at the Curragh and displaying all the toughness of his sire, ‘the Iron Horse’ Galileo, Aikhal put up a dazzling performance to win the Gr3 International Stakes with an impressive turn of foot, coming home in splendid isolation.

“I am absolutely gob smacked,” Mary remarked afterwards. “I thought it was crazy running him after only a week, but what a happy ending!”

Raced in partnership with Coolmore and George van Opel’s Westerberg, Mary bred Aikhal in Ireland from the Gr3 Gladness Stakes winner Diamond Fields, a half-sister to Gr1 Irish Derby hero Latrobe and Gr1 English Oaks runner-up Pink Dogwood.

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2 comments on “Mary’s Sparkling Water Runs Deep

  1. Mandasil says:

    It’s about time the younger Oppenheimer blood starts shining on the track like her late parent did. Well done Mary 👌👌

  2. Gregg Clarke says:

    How so very right you were. The Filly smashed them “stukkend”. What a win!. What a day to see Greyville packed. The roar of the crowd at the start and finish was on another level. Memorable

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