On a day of family firsts and a grand curtain call on the 2022/23 season, multiple SA champion jockey Lyle Hewitson booted home his Dad Carl’s maiden feature winner and gave Ireland-based owner Michael Moroney his first, and infinitely most memorable, day on a South African racecourse.
Riding his second feature winner at only his second racemeeting on African soil during his current visit, Lyle Hewitson was at his brilliant best keeping Pray For Rain at his task to successfully defend his title in the R150 000 LHKIR In December Listed Umngeni Handicap.
The Soft Falling Rain gelding won the same feature in 2022, when under different ownership and in the care of Dennis Drier.
Raced by Michael Moroney’s The Poet’s Corner Syndicate, Pray For Rain (7-2) put speed into play and went all the way as a popular tote favourite to clock 58,2 seconds for the 1000m.
The superbly consistent African Skyline (5-1) came on powerfully late for second, a quarter length back.
Pray For Rain was a R425 000 buy from the Cape Premier Yearling Sale.
A Gr1 runner-up as a 2yo to top stablemate of the time in Tempting Fate, Pray For Rain has won 4 races with 9 places from 24 starts for stakes of R443 925.
Bred by Avontuur, the winner is by the deceased Soft Falling Rain (National Assembly). He is out of the two-time winning Var mare Kitco.
An emotional owner Michael Moroney endured an 18 hour flight from Ireland – and we hear from a reliable source that flying is not exactly his favourite pursuit. He arrived in South Africa late on Saturday and returns to the Emerald Isle on Tuesday.
Lyle draped the Irish flag on his shoulders in the lead in, and there was plenty of fun and games and some serious ‘Irish’ spoken in the post-race interview!
All in good fun on a 4-18 channel and handled with aplomb by interviewer, Sheldon Peters.
It’s always good to see really passionate people having fun and letting their hair down.
Enjoy the replay: