Gr3 Christmas Hcp at Clairwood on Boxing Day
Blake is turning into a long distance performer of considerable talent at the age of five and on Saturday he recorded his second Feature race success in a row when winning the Cape Summer Stayers Handicap over 2500m on the Kenilworth new course. The gelding had won the Listed Woolavington Handicap at Durbanville in his most recent appearance, writes MATTHEW LIPS.
Blake was racing off a career high mark of 98 after being raised four pounds for his Woolavington success, but that form had been franked when the second horse won at Listed level subsequently and Blake went off as the marginal 33/10 favourite in a field of 13 for the Summer Stayers. Vengence was the 75/20 second favourite, with Two Tone being supported from an ante-post call of 8/1 to start as the 11/2 third choice in his bid to win this event for a second year in succession.
In the absence of Hospitality – a regular frontrunner in races of this nature – it was Two Strikes who set out to try for a pillar-to-post success. He set a very ordinary pace ahead of Omaha Beach and Komatipoort, with the stable companions Blake and In Writing next in line. Hawk’s Eye was further back, with Posh Boy and Sun City bringing up the rear. Two Strikes continued to show the way at a pace to suit himself, and showed them into the straight with Omaha Beach and Komatipoort still closest to him.
The field headed towards the outside of the track in the straight, causing traffic problems for a few of those trying to navigate a path from off the pace. Two Strikes still led well inside the final furlong as Komatipoort made his move on his inside and Blake found a dream run down the grandstand rail. It was the latter who finished the strongest, clearly travelling better than anything else entering the last 100m and running on stoutly under Karl Neisius to win by one length. Komatipoort shaded the gallant Two Strikes by a short head for second, with Orchard House staying on to finish a never dangerous fourth, just less than half-a-length behind Two Strikes.
Orchard House was one of those who seemed to have his path blocked when trying to make headway in the straight and may have been unfortunate not to finish closer, but Blake looked like a thoroughly deserving winner on the day. Vengence never got into the race and was beaten a tick under five lengths into ninth place, just behind the slightly enigmatic top weight Paddy O’Reilly. The fairly bunched finish also suggests that the race was run at no great pace whatsoever, but Blake showed a nice turn of foot to comfortably finish matters off and connections of the Dean Kannemeyer-trained gelding will doubtless be eyeing the Gr 2 J & B Reserve Stayers over 2800m on January 28th.
Blake is from the first crop of Dynasty, who was of course trained by Dean Kannemeyer as well. Blake is the tenth foal and fifth winner produced from Australian-bred Nassipour mare Watercolours, who won four races over 1600/2000m. Bred at Graeme Koster’s Rosedene Stud, Blake was bought for R130 000 at the 2008 National Yearling Sales and has won seven times from 23 starts for earnings of R504 321. The model of consistency, he has now finished in the first three in all eight starts since being gelded in January 2011.