Honours were evenly shared at the first KZN meeting of the new season at Scottsville on 3 August. Summerveld trainer Mark Dixon enjoyed a healthily priced double, while the performance of the afternoon belonged to the Oppenheimer’s Brooks-Club. The son of Strike Smartly shed his maiden over 1400m in a fashion that says there will be plenty more to come.
Gavin Van Zyl must be smiling. He has yet another really nice three year old on his hands here. On paper, the Mauritzfontein Stud bred colt, out of a four-time winning Fort Wood mare, looks bred to stay another 1000m further than what he tried today. Which makes his win over the extended sprint all the more impressive. Jockey Raymond Danielson enjoyed an armchair ride when releasing him at the 300m mark and he won by many lengths. The fact that he was running against older battling sorts does not in any way detract from the victory. As for the opposition, only the lightly raced Mogok gelding Shoe Horn emerged with any semblance of credit, to run into second.
While runner-up Anthony Delpech is enjoying a well earned break, SA Champion jockey Anton Marcus attended his first day of work for the new season, and he did not have things all his own way. He was let down by a few very fancied rides and had to wait until the penultimate event to open his account. He partnered the well-performed Jeff Freedman-trained filly Country Rose to an easy win over the former PE mare, Roxie Heart, in the MR 92 handicap for fillies and mares over 1200m. The talented daughter of Camden Park was registering her fourth win from six starts and looks destined for better things. The classy five-time winner Autumn Gold showed good improvement to run into third and those with short memories will forget how highly rated she was in her younger days.
Jockey Sean Veale has lost his career footing at times, but he showed that he can ride winners when given the right horses to ride. His last four winning rides have all been for the Plattner – Govender team and he steered the beautifully bred Sheperd’s Winter to an emphatic victory in the jackpot opener, a Maiden Plate over 1400m in the famous indigo blue and green silks. The four year old gelding is by a great stallion in Western Winter out of a brilliant race filly in the brilliant former Chris Snaith-trained Shepherd’s Moon. But breeding is a fickle old game and even with his exalted parentage, he has struggled to win his first race. He has taken nine runs to put it all together and he could win again but his opponents today look a little moderate.
His mum Shepherd’s Moon ran in the Plattner silks and was one of the very best fillies to race in the Cape in the nineties. She won nine races from 1000m to 1800m, which included the 1994 Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas and the 1995 Gr1 Arc En Ciel Paddock Stakes, with the now retired Mark Khan in the saddle. The last mentioned race carried a stake of just R150 000 then and thanks largely to the efforts and realisation of an ideal by former TBA Chairman Advocate Altus Joubert, the stake is R1 million these days. Which probably is still not enough.
For sentimentality’s sake it is interesting to recall that Lyphard Stallion Trigger Finger also produced another veryversatile nine-time winner in the PE sensation Annie. She was out of the Peacable Kingdom mare, Song Of Peace. Annie did not reach Shepherd’s Moon heights of multiple Gr1 wins, but did win the Gr3 Kenilworth Fillies Nursery and fascinatingly also the 1998 Dion EP Derby over 2400m in the very capable hands of Piere Strydom. That is serious versatility!
Apprentice Ryan Curling was seen to good effect on the Kahal filly Devonella for Ivan Moore in the sixth race, an MR 74 Handicap for fillies and mares over 1200m. The original favourite Secret Quest blew in and out of the betting and eventually went from 22-10 to 6-1. Anton Marcus’ mount ran accordingly. Curling showed his thinking head by drifting his mount across to join Cotswold and Tenacious Tess who were duelling on the inside. This resulted in her putting her mind to the task and her best foot forward. She got the better of the consistent but luckless Cotswold in the last 100m, to win convincingly. She is leased from her breeder, Backworth Stud, and McCarthy BMW Umhlanga sponsored trainer Ivan Moore’s purple patch continues into the new season.