Most Sensational Beck Winner Ever?

There have been many - but this was extra special

In the many years that the famous brown and white colours of the Beck family have been competing in South Africa, has there ever been a more sensational winner than Lucky Lad in Saturday’s Gr1 Golden Horse Sprint at Hollywoodbets Scottsville?

David Mollett writes that it would have been breakfast-time in Kentucky when the Gr1 race was run and it’s understandable if Antony and Angela Beck spilled their coffee as they watched their three year-old come from the clouds to win.

Richard Fourie (spots on cap) has Lucky Lad in top gear as At My Command (Craig Zackey) fights hard (Pic – Chase Liebenberg)

No doubt that 300 metres out the colt looked unlikely to run a place.

Of course, Lucky Lad’s sixth career win is down to the talent of Richard Fourie and Sean Tarry, but also to the loyalty of the Becks who have never flinched when their trainer has recommended the purchase of a horse.

Quite correctly, we still have the Graham Beck Stakes as one of our major races on the Highveld as Beck Snr was an extraordinarily successful mining tycoon and – in the latter part of his life – a notable winemaker.

At the time of his death in London in 2010, Graham Beck had extensive breeding interests with Highlands Farm in Robertson as well as the purchase of the famous Gainesway Farm in Kentucky.

His son, Antony, who was handling the family’s breeding interests at the time of his father’s death, wasn’t sure the acquisition of Gainesway was a good idea.

He said: “I thought Gainesway was a heck of a thing to swallow. Where I was living in Robertson, South Africa, is not to be compared with Central Kentucky by any stretch of the imagination. At the time, Kentucky was the undisputed centre of global horse breeding. I thought it required a tremendous amount of guts to acquire a farm like that.”

However, Graham Beck wasn’t short of guts in any form of investment. I was lucky enough to know him quite well thanks to my friendship with one of his closest friends, Gerald Jaffee.

If one views the pics of Gainesway on the internet, it’s clear Antony and Angela have done a wonderful job with the extensive property, but their love of racing means they still have strong ties with South Africa.

Lucky Lad cost the Becks R850 000 when purchased as a yearling from Varsfontein Stud. The first purse on Saturday was R625 000 which took his career earnings to just shy of R2 million.

But the Beck buys have also proved costly from time to time. For example, another of their Tarry-trained three year-olds, To The Rescue, cost R1,2 million and beat only two home in Saturday’s fourth race at Hollywoodbets Scottsville.

At the recent National Yearling Sales, I expected Sean Tarry might buy Lucky Lad’s half-brother for the Becks – even if the colt was by a new sire in Erik The Red.

It was Zimbabwean, Peter Moor, who decided to acquire the youngster and he had the final say at R675 000. The colt is the seventh produce of the mare, Imperial State.

Finally, a word on Richard Fourie who – once again – cost bookies plenty with three winners at the Maritzburg track.

Some 6000 miles away the best jockey on the planet, Ryan Moore, was displaying his talent once again with victory in the Betfred Derby. Interesting to see how our 38 year-old champion would fare against a jockey just two years his senior. Perhaps they might clash in one of Hong Kong’s International Jockey Challenges?

UK bookies were bemoaning City Of Troy’s win despite many pundits declaring the horse didn’t have a prayer.

Fred Done, owner of Betfred, said: “City Of Troy has cost us a fortune but you have to pay out with a smile when you’re witnessing history. It’s an incredible achievement by Aidan O’Brien to win ten Derbys.”

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