Magic from Derryl Daniels

Scottsville 24 July

Penny drops! Derryl Daniels is all smiles after winning the feature today.

Jockey Derryl Daniels grabbed the limelight at Scottsville on Sunday 24 July, when he rode a beautifully judged race to win the Listed Off To Stud Handicap on the Silvano mare, Magic Penny. Daniels’ season has played out in a very different world to that of his champion title chasing colleagues, and it is pleasing to see his hard work pay dividends.

Often his own worst enemy, Daniels has had more ups and downs than a jumping jack in his riding career. In fact he was once dubbed ‘Jack’ Daniels for his enthusiastic appreciation of that expensive bottled liquid. But he has picked himself up off the canvas on more than one occasion and, but for a shocking fall at Arlington on Christmas Eve last year, he would have been a lot higher up the rankings. It has certainly been a tough twelve months for the undoubtedly talented rider.

In contrast, the high-riding Anton Marcus and Anthony Delpech have had a big season between them and Marcus won today’s encounter 3-2. They ended the day with Delpech leading 221-218. While the log leader will take a break on Monday when we race at Flamingo Park, Marcus is scheduled to ride every day. That includes an isolated visit to Kenilworth on Wednesday this week, where they have fifteen rides between them.  That is only approximately R10 000 in riding fee earnings, so does not amount to a helluva lot of money  but hard-pressed Cape regulars have probably got reason to feel a little cheesed off. They ride the work, the good and bad horses, and take the flak the whole year, while the glamour boys flit in and out, when it suits them. We live in a free enterprise system but what happened to loyalty, one wonders? Hopefully the visitors will be charitably leaving their cheques behind when they jump in the taxi for the airport after the races.

Great ride. Derryl Daniels steers Magic Penny to a smart win.

The feature win at Scottsville today was only Daniels third winning ride since returning to race-riding on 19 April this year. He was off for close to four months and has battled to break through to his regular aggressive pattern of contesting finishes and riding regular winners, often on longshots. He has also not been riding the best horses, after losing his valuable Glen Kotzen job, but two of his three 2011 winners have been for Alec Laird, and he is slowly getting the support he deserves.

His ride in the Off To Stud Handicap, was 1800m of pure skill and judgement of pace. Riding the five year old Silvano mare Magic Penny, he allowed Raymond Danielson to lead the parade on the outsider Young Caesour, and then pounced when it counted most, to bank the R91 500 first cheque for the connections. It was Magic Penny’s fifth win from thirty starts, and trainer Alec Laird’s third winner of the day. Gibson Girl ran on best of the rest to finish third, while Croc Valley was left with too much to do and ran on impressively into fourth. The fancied De Kock-trained Atlantic Oak and the Alastair Gordon-trained  Lady Magpie, had every chance but were beaten fair and square on the day.

Smart Alec. Trainer Laird has horse sense.

Gauteng Trainer Alec Laird’s stable slogan, according to his website,  is ‘It’s In The Blood’ and Syd Laird’s grandson churns out the winners. London News victory in the QE 11 Cup in Hong Kong was an undoubted career highlight. Even though he may not be the most vocal and outspoken person in racing, he enjoys support from some of the top patrons and has over 100 horses in his four barns at the Randjesfontein  training complex. Besides Magic Penny in the feature, Laird also sent out the upwardly mobile Var gelding Provencal, to open Anton Marcus’  account in the first race. Despite running very green, the Wilgerbosdrift bred won well at his second outing here and is highly rated by his connections.  Laird then balanced his contribution to the jockey title race by engaging Anthony Delpech on the winning Divine Right in the seventh race. The daughter of Dynasty was always up with the action and drew clear in the final 200m to win well.

The Mike De Kock- trained Travel Up Front was an impressive winner at cramped odds of the Maiden Juvenile Plate over 1400m. The daughter of Western Winter out of the Citidancer mare Travel In Front, looks to have plenty of scope and Anthony Delpech was highly impressed by what he felt – saying that she was clearly above average. She won unextended and is a name to pencil in for the future.

The major speculation and focus of attention this week will be on the jockey duel. We will sure be glad when life gets back to normal from next Monday, though. No doubt, so will the balance of the SA jockey population

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