There is definitely no such thing as a racing certainty. Two top horses confirmed that statement as fact at Turffontein tonight.
Both Dancewiththedevil and JJ The Jet Plane would have had their excuses, but neither came up trumps on the evening.
Anton Marcus jetted out of Durban, after a blank and somewhat disappointing afternoon at Scottsville, on the fifty minute flight to O R Tambo International. And his solitary two rides at Turffontein dished up two very differing results.
The unbeaten Holy Roman Emperor gelding Northern Emperor had stepped out at Scottsville in the first leg of the jackpot earlier in the afternoon. And from a pole position draw and no visible excuses in running, the Charles Laird trained three year old ran a shocker in what Marcus would have seen as a likely winning curtain call on his three day KZN expedition.
Bielorruso set the pace here but had no answer to The Shark’s flying dash down the rail. The Western Cape based son of Kitalpha was making his Champions Season debut for the high-riding Dean Kannemeyer yard. This was his fifth win from seventeen starts. As for Northern Emperor, we are puzzled but he simply failed his first serious career test.
The first of Marcus’ two rides at Turffontein created a buzz of excitement. The multiple Gr1 winning sprinter JJ The Jet Plane was turned out in only his second public appearance this year in a Pinnacle Stakes over 1000m, And he looked slung in at the weights. But racing is seldom straightforward and a simple mathematical calculation.
And the bang-in-form Gavin Lerena recorded his fourth winner of the evening when he coaxed the necessary extra out of the well-tried seven year old Winking Jack, who carried level weights with the champion JJ, but made him look ordinary in a tight finish that probably flattered JJ. Lance Wiid’s gelding was having his 39th outing for his ninth win. Marcus said afterwards that he was ‘gutted’ to have been beaten on his first ride on JJ.
Things changed dramatically for Marcus within a half hour of JJ’s shock defeat, when he recorded a smooth win for Mike De Kock in the R1 million Gr1 Laurie Jaffee Empress Club Stakes run over 1600m. Mary Slack was on course to lead her Irish-bred Rock Of Gibraltar mare Europa Point into the winner’s box after an easy 3,5 length win. This was her fifth win in a row and her eighth from twelve starts.
It was a bitter-sweet moment no doubt for jockey Anthony Delpech who had won Europa Point’s previous four races on her and who opted to ride the other Wilgerbosdrift filly Welwitschia instead. She ran a rare bad race to finish 11,5 lengths off.
The 5-10 favourite Dancewiththedevil was under pressure early in the straight and plodded on into a weak 4,5 length fourth. Marcus seemed quite taken aback that excuses were made for St John Gray’s brilliant mare about the going . The bottom line is that, like JJ The Jet Plane, she had this field stone cold at the weights, and didn’t deliver when it counted.
TSHEPISO’S BIG NUMBER ONE!
It would be remiss of us not to acknowledge the first career winner of Apprentice Tshepiso Mat’soele at the Clairwood meeting on Easter Monday on the rank outsider Look After Me.
The Apprentice MR78 Handicap run over 1450m produced a shock with the biggest outsider in the field winning. A forgettable race for most punters was a memorable one for nineteen year apprentice Tshepiso Mat’soele, who hails from Alexander Township in Johannesburg. Having his 33rd ride, he rode a copybook race according to trainer Yogas Govender, to beat his much more fancied stablemate Golden Sled.
Change Your Mind set a cracking pace in the apprentice race under Bryan Claassen but tired as the field turned for home as Spirit Of Success and Charles Greig looked threatening. Mat’soela had been riding a patient race up to that point on the Lizard Island gelding Look After Me,and he produced the four year old at the right moment to upset the apple-cart.
Look After Me, gelded and rested almost ten months after a dull spell, was the Sporting Post’s highest rated selection in the race and paid a mouthwatering R32 for a tote win and R11 the place. A Plattner home-bred, he is lightly raced enough to possibly continue to improve.