Even world champion trainers are not perfect. Mike De Kock conceded on Saturday at Turffontein that he surprised himself at times with his stubborness. He was referring to the Wilgerbosdrift owned Welwitschia, who had just won the R200 000 Gr2 Camelia Stakes in brilliant fashion.
It is difficult for most of us to be humble. But it is probably a lot easier when you are successful and have very little, if nothing, to prove to anybody.
Trainer Mike De Kock’s eventual surrender to the quite happy reality this his smart four year old filly Welwitschia is a Group quality sprinter, had him scratching his head at the ‘stubborness’, as he termed it, that had him trying every trick in the book in the educated belief that she would go a mile.
Welwitschia did in fact win over a mile in a rather lowly rated Progress Plate a year ago. In hindsight that win was full of merit as she beat a filly called Hawker Hunter, who won the Gr2 Gerald Rosenberg Stakes three hours later. But that is history now and Welwitschia showed on Saturday that sprinting will be her ticket to stardom.
Welwitschia was switched off early in the Camelia as Anton Marcus had the favourite Jackodore showing her customary flash of foot ahead of Carey’s Qui and Fair Rosalind down the inside. Welwitschia was seven lengths behind at the 500m marker but produced an electric burst of acceleration to glide through her field and hit the front at the 400m marker to win going away. On a day of champion performances, it was breathtaking to watch.
The Stan Ferreira trained Kalaam powered on late at 45-1 after a slow start to finish 4,35 lengths off the winner, while the former Zimbabwean Tamburlaine filly Control Freak also demonstrated that sprinting is probably her A game, by running a fair third.
De Kock had taken the blinkers off Welwitschia after a poor effort in the Gr1 Empress Club Stakes last time out and Delpech suggested that she is a filly who ‘gets 1400m and no further.’
The list of disappointments in this race is not a long one. The 75-20 favourite Jackodore showed plenty of pace but was patently not herself. She had run a terrific 2,5 lengths second to emerging KZN sprinter Antious in the Senor Santa three weeks ago over the course and distance, but faded to finish a tame sixth and 4,35 lengths off Welwitschia.
Dennis Drier and Alec Forbes had a miserable day at the office and Torra Bay also disappointed after winning four of her first five starts. In her defence she was reported to have been cut into on the off-fore and switched at a crucial stage. She very definitely deserves another chance to redeem herself.
Welwitschia is a dream broodmare prospect in the making. She was bred by Peter and Sally Hunt’s Sparsholt Stud in the heart of Hampshire near the historic City of Winchester in England. She is by the Green Desert stallion Oasis Dream, a multiple Gr1 winner. Interestingly, Oasis Dream won all his races from 1000m to 1200m including the Gr1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York and the Gr1 July Cup at Newmarket. Welwitschia is by the Pursuit Of Love mare, Maid For Romance
This was Welwitschia’s biggest win to date. Her previous top effort was her victory in the Gr3 Joburg Spring Challenge over 1450m where she lowered the colours of Dancewiththedevil. She has won five of her eleven starts for earnings of R700 000.
Now that her trainer has settled on sprinting as her forte, and with Val De Ra sadly sidelined, Welwitschia looks a serious challenger for a cheque in the SA Fillies Sprint at the end of May.She may not be quite good enough to beat Poinsettia winner Princess Victoria, but let’s not forget that Scottsville remains a great leveller.
3 -Control Freak (SAF), 55.5, ch f 3, Tamburlaine (IRE) – Time Control (SAF) by Complete Warrior Margins: 3¼, nk, ½ Also ran: Variometer (SAF) 56.5, Jolly Poppins (SAF) 57.5, Jackodore (SAF) 57.0, Torra Bay (AUS) 58.0, Give Me Five (SAF) 60.0, Uptothemoon (SAF) 55.5, Fair Rosalind (SAF) 58.5, Carey’s Qui (SAF) 57.5, Sacred Feminine (SAF) 57.5, Pacific Dynasty (SAF) 57.5