No Question – Blood Will Out!

Something great can emerge from adversity

The Turffontein crowd witnessed a truly pulsating finish to the TAB Gr1 SA Classic on Saturday , where upstart Purple Pitcher spoiled the party of hot favourite Sandringham Summit, who was widely expected to follow up on his Gr2 Gauteng Guineas success.

Kabelo Matsunyane is beaming from ear to ear as Mr Pooe and his happy team lead Purple Pitcher in (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

Having cut out the running, Purple Pitcher was briefly headed in the straight, but rallied bravely to regain the lead and when pressed by Sandringham Summit, he showed a grim, terrier-like tenacity to land the spoils by just under a length.

Whilst this first Gr1 victory was a momentous occasion for both trainer Robyn Klaassen and owner Mr Pooe, in some sense, it was also a poignant one, as Purple Pitcher became the first top level winner sired by ill-fated stallion New Predator, an Australian-bred son of the champion Galileo horse New Approach.

Raced by the Wernars, New Predator proved himself a relentless frontrunner and, whereas Galileo has been a classic influence par excellence and New Approach won the English Derby, he possessed a sharp turn of foot and proved effective from 1200m to a mile.

Runner-up in his first two starts, the colt then strolled to a six-length maiden win over a mile and immediately followed up with a splendid second in a head-bobbing finish to the Gr2 Dingaans won by subsequent Gr1 Cape Guineas hero Noah From Goa.

New Predator opened his stakes account in the Gr2 Drill Hall Stakes where he had the likes of Horse of the Year Legislate and Durban July winner The Conglomerate behind him. Also successful in the Gr2 Charity Mile, some of his best efforts came in defeat at the very top level, notably when third, beaten just a length, in the Gr1 Mercury Sprint.

New Predator started his stallion career at Bush Hill Stud in KZN where, it would be fair to say, he did not have access to the same quality of mares as did his Western Cape-based counterparts.

However, it came as no surprise that this smart sprinter/miler was off to a flyer with his first runners, and that early success did not go unnoticed.

In July last year, news broke that New Predator would move to the Western Cape to join the stallion roster at Ridgemont. Alas, tragedy struck, for soon after his arrival, he died in a paddock accident.

As is so often the case when a stallion dies, his progeny suddenly come to light and when Purple Pitcher claimed the Gr2 Dingaans at the expense of Gimmeanotherchance and Sandringham Summit, it looked like New Predator’s premature demise was a tragic loss.

This was further underlined by Purple Pitcher’s Gr1 success on Saturday and the fact that he also sired fourth-placed Pure Predator.

Purple Pitcher was bred at Bush Hill from the Count Dubois mare Heliantha, who had been acquired for a paltry R5000 as the dam of two winners from as many runners.

Heliantha was a product of the famed Lammerskraal pastures and the stud’s former manager Sally Bruss remembers her as “small and non-descript, unlike her dam Tropical Garden, who was a big strapping mare, while her half-sister Wild Aster was a real looker.”

Like so many mares that made up the Lammerskraal broodmare band, Tropical Garden boasted both black type and a distinguished pedigree.

On the track, she was runner-up in both the Gr2 Natal Oaks and Gr2 Natalia Stakes and at stud produced Wild Aster, who lived up to her good looks with a second in the Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas, before carrying the Lammerskraal silks to victory in the then Gr2 Majorca Stakes.

Late New Predator seen winning the 2016 Drill Hall Stakes (Pic – Gold Circle)

Tropical Garden’s half-sister, the Tibouchina victress Damascus Road, became the dam of Shaun Tarry’s Gr1 J&B Met winner Alastor. Although Heliantha’s grandam Hot Ash never raced, she was a sibling to three high-class gallopers.

Her champion half-sister Wild Ash claimed both the Gr1 Cape Fillies and Gr1 Natal Fillies Guineas, produced champion Wild West, and also became grandam of Gr1 Cape Derby hero Ultrasound.

Hot Ash’s stakes-winning own brother Whiteoak placed in both the Gr1 Cape Guineas and Queen’s Plate, while half-brother Kiepersol, who sold for a joint record price as a yearling, won the Natal Guineas.

Heliantha would produce three foals for Bush Hill before her death at age 17.

After foaling a filly by Flying The Flag, she visited Crusade, the result of which was Miss Daisy.

Stakes winner Miss Daisy – races in the Pooe silks (Pic – JC Photos)

Now four, she too, is raced by Mr Pooe and has scored five times to date.

More importantly, she became her dam’s first stakes winner with a defeat of Feather Boa and Gimme A Shot in last season’s Gr3 HSH Princess Charlene Starling Stakes.

Sent to New Predator, Heliantha gave birth to Purple Pitcher a year later. He would be her final foal, for as Bush Hill’s Karen Render recalls: “Heliantha was an aged mare when she had Purple Pitcher and sadly, she suffered a post foaling twist, and we lost her. Purple Pitcher was raised by a foster mare.”

Handsome is as handsome does, and history will show that unprepossessing little Heliantha has risen from obscurity to fame as the dam of a Gr1 winner with her final foal. As Sally remarked: “It’s taken a few foals but heck, she turned into a helluva broodmare!”

The various directions that families and bloodlines can take when different aptitudes and approaches combine is a never-ending source of fascination, yet blood will out. Amazing how superior genes eventually come through and yes, something great can emerge from adversity.

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