While the Michael Roberts tribute raceday didn’t play out entirely to the script, with the weather forcing a late switch from the Pietermaritzburg turf to the Hollywoodbets Greyville polytrack, Brett Crawford’s progressive 4yo G G’s Dynasty saved the day for favourite backers when he stormed to a popular victory in the R150 000 Listed Michael Roberts Handicap.
Overnight rain and the forecast of more downpours initiated the move to abandon the Hollywoodbets Scottsville plans and the eight-race card moved to the Durban city track, with the feature distance adjusted from the original 1750m to 1800m.
The move would have not pleased a few, including trainer Dennis Drier and his patrons, who were defending their feature title with the 7yo Wealthy – a good few lengths more effective on the Scottsville turf – but who sportingly took their chances.
Winning rider Anton Marcus made the observation that he was never really worried about G G’s Dynasty taking to the poly – but was more concerned about the dice falling in the favour of his major opponent, Born To Perform, who has proven his ability on both surfaces.
But after Amor Adiente had made most of the running, with Born To Perform relaxed some way off the pace, as is his preference, Marcus needn’t have worried as G G’s Dynasty stormed to the lead at the 250m and ran on strongly under an easy ride to win by a half length in a time of 106,23 secs.
Tony Rivalland’s once promising 3yo of last term Tristful (13-1) came out of the pack and ran on well to shade the late finishing Born To Perform (53-20), with Blackball (15-2) only finding his feet late for fourth, a length off the winner.
Christmas Handicap winner The Dazzler (14-1) was thereabouts for a long way but faded to a 2,75 length fifth.
Guest of honour Michael Roberts thanked Gold Circle for hosting the tribute – although he added that he was naturally disappointed that the meeting was lost to Hollywoodbets Scottsville – a course close to his heart.
The Smyrna Maiden Plate opened the programme and it was at the age of 14 in 1968 that the legend won his first race – at Scottsville on a horse called Smyrna.
Anton Marcus said that he couldn’t thank assistant trainer Peter Muscutt enough. He recalled looking up to Michael Roberts as a champion in his younger days. “It’s a real privilege for me to win this race,” he added.
Peter Muscutt, who runs the Crawford operation at Summerveld, called the winner an honest and genuine ‘push-button’ horse and thanked owners Greg Bortz and Braam van Huyssteen.
He endorsed Marcus’ thoughts on the honour of standing on the winner’s podium and said he had also looked up to Roberts as a youngster.
A R300 000 purchase from the 2017 CTS Ready To Run Sale, G G’s Dynasty took his earnings to R467 875 at his sixth win with 4 places from 14 starts.
He was bred by Normandy Stud from Dynasty (Fort Wood) out of the twice winning Right Approach mare, Genteel Approach. The latter is a half-sister to the well performed stakes winners Fabiani and Star Empire, who also performed well in Dubai.