The Kinmount Stud Apprentice Handicap provided the real entertainment and drama at Greyville on 16 October with a rather melodramatic performance in the saddle from Donovan Dillon, who was, we believe, beaten fairly and squarely into second place by an enterprising Jason Smitsdorff.
There can be little doubt however where commentator Sheldon Peter’s loyalties and fancy lay as he cried foul and cautioned punters that an objection would follow. It is a tough profession and reining in one’s opinion must be difficult at times in the heat of a drama-filled finish!
Dillon deserves an Oscar for his acrobatic gamesmanship in the saddle as his mount was blocked on the rail with about 250m to run by eventual winner Thursday Lunch in this competitive seventh race. He certainly fooled race-caller Peters who appeared to have already decided on the outcome of any pending objection as the runners returned to weigh-in.
Smitsdorff gave the free striding Thursday Lunch a peach of a ride from the front and when challenged in the straight by his slightly less experienced colleague, he promptly moved across to the inside rail and sort of provided a nowhere to hide imaginary passage for the challenging Rule The Nation. It looked quite impressive, particularly after Dillon pulled his own Maradona style dive right out of the sky, but the Kotzen horse always had his measure.
In an industry that is supposedly intended to entertain, so much of what we are fed is scripted and oh so predictable. Peters’ tangible emotional outburst as he witnessed the interference was thus both refreshing and a welcome change from the politically-correct stuff we get thrown dead with, day in and day out. The young commentator was adamant that an objection would follow. And he was 100% correct as Sean Tarry’s Assistant did lodge one – but the end result did not go the way Peters had hinted. The Kotzen’s Thursday Lunch deservedly retaining the winner’s berth.
Gavin Van Zyl is one of those rare cases of a former jockey who just seems tailor made to follow a career training horses. Eloquent, composed and confident, he is a born marketer and he used the post-race interview of the winning Makaarem colt Ses Riem, who departed the maiden ranks in the third race, to punt his stable’s new website. The site – teamgracing.co.za– is certainly worth a visit.
Ses Riem campaigns in the bright pink Loudon silks which were carried by the extraordinarily versatile Qui Danzig gelding Key Of Destiny. A horse who won both the 2400m Gr2 Gold Circle Derby and the Gr1 Golden Horse Sprint two seasons later, beating the brilliant Nhlavini, he was trained by Colin Lee and ended his career in relative obscurity in Dubai. Ses Riem is probably no Key Of Destiny, but it is pleasing to see Loudon having stuck it out and enjoying the Maiden win after his Graded success at the start of the new millennium. It is a tough game this, as we all find out eventually.
The Sunday riding honours went to the bang-in-form Sean Veale, who booted home a double. He won the fourth, a Maiden Plate over 2400m on the Spaceship gelding Pay Packet for his ex SA Jockey Academy Riding Master, Paul Gadsby, who now trains. The four year old looks like he could develop into a fair staying sort and it was Veale’s quick thinking that won the race after he got first break on the De Kock colt, Earl De Grey.
Veale closed the afternoon when he won the MR78 Handicap over 2000m on the Govender-trained Make My Day. It was a great ride from the 15 draw that saw the Captain Al gelding finish best of all to beat the De Kock-Delpech partnership – again! Veale in fact proved something of a nemesis for Delpech yesterday, beating him twice. The Seychelles born Delpech is really not in dazzling form at the moment and the heady heights of the final six weeks of last season must all seem rather distant right now. He is currently on a sequence of nineteen rides without a winner and didn’t visit the winners enclosure once last week. That said, he is still vying for the lead on the national jockey table.