Dean Kannemeyer’s smart three year old Depardieu played the starring role in the R200 000 Gr3 Byerley Turk run over 1400m at Scottsville on Saturday. His sweeping flourish from last to first in a matter of strides, suggests that there may well be a sequel to this success story.
Champions Season is not yet officially under way, but the Cape trainers have sent an ominous warning to their counterparts that the time for petty hot-aired provincialism is over. Meaningless comparisons of the Gauteng and Cape form is cheap talk. The real action is on the racecourse and after Vaughan Marshall’s Var Grade 3 double at Clairwood on Sunday, Joey Ramsden and Dean Kannemeyer weaved their own magic at Scottsville this past weekend.
For those who bothered to look, the signs were there. Veteran Cape Champion jockey Karl Neisius gave up a potential eight rides on the bumper Kenilworth Saturday programme to travel the close to 2000km to the KZN Capital City to ride just two horses for Kannemeyer. That is a lot of travelling time for about five minutes work in any professional’s book. But it was worth the effort.
Scratchings reduced the Independent On Saturday sponsored race down to a field of just six runners, which would hardly have excited the tote operator. But the lack of depth was made up for in some measure by the quality of the participants and the prospect of an exciting duel between the unbeaten Charles Laird Australian-bred colt Unannounced and one of the top Cape three year olds. And punters would not have been disappointed by show provided by the two horses who vied for favouritism.
Anton Marcus took Unannounced up to lead early from Distinguished and Territorial Waters, while Neisius watched proceedings from the rear on Depardieu. Entering the home straight, Unannounced appeared to be going quite well, but he came under visible pressure 250m out and started drifting to the outside. This provided a gaping stage for Neisius who brought Depardieu down the middle with an impressive turn of foot. A cursory crack or two from the whip was all Depardieu needed to keep his mind on the task at hand and he got the better of Unannounced to win going away at 14-10.
While he will undoubtedly come on with the run, this was a smart effort from the burly colt who showed maturity in handling his first experience of a right-handed racecourse. His impressive acceleration when sweeping down the middle was also a sign of a smart and versatile horse who could turn out to be one of the stars of the season. He has already claimed the scalp of the highly vaunted Gimmethegreenlight at Group 3 level over 1400m.
Bred by Normandy Stud, Depardieu has now won three Grade 3 races in his impressive five win haul from his eleven starts. He has earned over R500 000 in stake money for owners Bernard Kantor and Markus Jooste, who went to R250 000 at the National Yearling Sale for him.
And what a prolific Group winner producing family he hails from! Depardieu’s dam Diva is a half-sister to multiple Queen’s Plate winner Winter Solstice, as well as to the dam of Cape Derby winner Bravura. His grandam is a half-sister to the dam of another Queen’s Plate winner, in Mother Russia. He looks well on his way to being the best produce to date of Zafonic stallion Dupont, who interestingly won Guineas’ in Italy and Germany.
And spare a thought for the vanquished. Unannounced had won six from six over sprints prior to Saturday. They squared up at level weights but the Laird colt came into this race on a merit rating of 108 versus Depardieu’s 106. Depardieu had won twice at Gr3 level in his four wins versus Unannounced’s six wins of no real consequence. Depardieu had earned R100 000 more in stakes too. Two very different career paths with a handicapping anomaly or two. And a very sporting challenge by Charles Laird and Anton Marcus that unfortunately blotted their boy’s copybook.
Depardieu’s trainer Dean Kannemeyer looks spoilt for choice with what is probably his best bunch of three year olds for some time. The patient approach has already paid dividends and the bay colt looks to have an exciting Champions Season ahead of him, with the Drill Hall Stakes or the Guineas his likely next stepping stone.
Jockey Karl Neisius, who has been in the saddle for four of his five wins, suggests that Depardieu may well be at his best from 1200m to 1400m. That educated consideration could sway Kannemeyer to go the route of the Gr2 Drill Hall Stakes run over 1400m on 5 May. He is anyway in the very fortunate position of having some other serious aces up his sleeve for the KRA Guineas on the same afternoon.
.Byerley Turk S. (SAf-G3) (4/14)
Scottsville, South Africa, April 14, R200.000, 1400m, turf, good, 1.24.23 (CR 1.21.72).1 – DEPARDIEU (SAF), 58.5, b c 3, Dupont (GB) – Diva (SAF) by Trigger Finger. Owner M J Jooste and B Kantor; breeder Normandy Stud (SAF); trainer D Kannemeyer; jockey K Neisius (R132.609)
2 – Unannounced (AUS), 58.5, b c 3, Snitzel (AUS) – Dialogue (AUS) by Dehere
3 – Northern Conquest (SAF), 58.5, b c 3, Alado (GB) – Romantic (SAF) by CaesourMargins: 1, 2¾, nk
Also ran: Territorial Waters (AUS) 54.5, Distinguished (SAF) 52.5, Storm Bringer (SAF) 56.5