Light Show – Gr2 SA Oaks

Princess Of Light - Gold Circle Oaks winner

Princess Of Light found only Igugu too good for her when runner-up in the Gr2 SA Oaks back in April, and took full advantage of her old nemesis’ absence to go one better in the Gold Circle Oaks over 2400m at Clairwood on Sunday, writes MATTHEW LIPS.

Whether this result actually does anything to boost Igugu’s chances in the Vodacom Durban July is a matter of opinion, although it certainly doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t appear to tell us anything at all that we didn’t already know about Mike de Kock’s star. The Gold Circle Oaks was won by the best horse in the race on official ratings, and there is no mystery in that whatsoever, but at least the three-year-old filly form has been consistent and that was underlined on Sunday.
With both the proven form and the established stamina on her side, Geoff Woodruff-trained Princess Of Light was always going to be one of the shining stars of the ten runner field which assembled at Clairwood and was well supported from an ante-post call of 13/10 to start as the 7/10 favourite. Ilha Grande had finished 6.5 lengths further behind Princess Of Light in the SA Oaks, but previous form hinted that she was capable of better and she was the 33/10 second choice of the market here. Margaret Court was the 11/2 third favourite in her first try beyond 1800m.
Princess Of Light didn’t get off to a particularly great start and it was Ilha Grande who was first to show briefly before settling into second as Midnight Dazzler headed her and set an ordinary pace. Las Ramblas and White Mischief were next in line early, but Princess Of Light (who had set the pace in the SA Oaks) made progress down the back straight to race in second behind Midnight Dazzler.
The favourite had a dream run up the inside down the straight and quickly came through to dispute the lead as Midnight Dazzler began to weaken, but Las Ramblas was a persistent challenger wider out. Ilha Grande was a spent force inside the last 300m, while White Mischief didn’t really produce much by way of a turn of foot when it was needed the most. That left Las Ramblas as the sole threat of any kind to Princess Of Light from 200m out, but try as she might the former could not quite get the better of the argument and Princess Of Light stayed on the better under Anton Marcus to eventually grind out a hard earned 1.25 lengths success.
White Mischief finished 3.75 lengths further behind Las Ramblas in third, with Margaret Court never a real threat before finishing yet another 3.25 lengths away in fourth. It is debatable whether this daughter of speed sire Lake Coniston saw out the Oaks distance, while Ilha Grande appeared not to and was eventually beaten 10.80 lengths into seventh place. Las Ramblas and White Mischief are others who have comprehensively been beaten by Igugu in the past, but again they ran more or less to their ratings. We already knew that Igugu is much better than any of her contemporaries, at least over distances beyond a mile, and it is easily argued that the Vodacom Durban July picture didn’t change one iota after Sunday.
Be all that as it may, Princess Of Light was a game winner of a race which by her jockey’s own admission didn’t work out exactly as planned at all. Plan B produced the desired result, though, and Marcus deserves plenty of credit for quickly adapting to the situation. It may seem easy for a jockey to win on an odds-on favourite that is rated comfortably ahead of every other horse in the field, but it doesn’t always work out that way and races are not run on either bookmakers’ boards or handicappers’ computers.
Princess Of Light is by European champion sprinter Var, but she has plenty of stamina in the dam’s side of her pedigree and is the half sister to 2010 SA Oaks winner Arcola. She is the fourth foal and third winner of Foveros mare Star Of Arcole, who won two races up to 2500m and who in turn is out of the Gr2 Natal Oaks (forerunner to the Gold Circle Oaks) winner Arcole. Bred by Carl and Amanda de Vos at Varsfontein Stud, Princess Of Light was bought for R130 000 at the 2009 National Two-Year-Old Sale and has won three times from ten starts for R419 500 in stakes.


Gold Circle Oaks (SAf-G2) (6/26)
Clairwood, South Africa, June 26, R200.000, 2400m, turf, good, 2.34.61 (CR 2.27.30).
1 – PRINCESS OF LIGHT (SAF), 58.0, b f 3, Var – Star Of Arcole (SAF) by Foveros (GB). Owner Mrs A Devachander and Mr L M F Wernars; breeder Mrs & Mrs C F de Vos (SAF); trainer GV Woodruff; jockey A Marcus (R132.609)
2 – Las Ramblas (SAF), 58.0, b f 3, Toreador (IRE) – Silent Kiss (NZ) by Maroof
3 – White Mischief (SAF), 58.0, ch f 3, Jet Master (SAF) – Mostly Mischief (SAF) by Elliodor (FR)
Margins: 1¼, 3¾, 3¼
Also ran: Margaret Court (SAF) 58.0, Midnight Dazzler (SAF) 58.0, Isle Of Dogs (SAF) 58.0, Ilha Grande (SAF) 58.0, Bella Nero (SAF) 58.0, Chablis (SAF) 58.0, Victory Garden (SAF) 58.0

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