Mlangeni Gets Lucky

Mlangeni and Strydom grab the honours

Striking! Piere Strydom drives Flag Of France up to win well (JC Photos)

Striking! Piere Strydom drives Flag Of France up to win well (JC Photos)

South African champion jockey Piere Strydom showed exactly why he is streets ahead of his colleagues on an average day, when he partnered the 9 to 1 shot Flag Of France to a smooth victory in the MR 94 Handicap run over 1400m at the Vaal on Monday.

Even Flag Of France’s enthusiastic and passionate owner trainer Romeo Francis will concede that the 4yo gelding by The Sheik is hardly going to Hollywood.

In fact the gelding had last won on 7 February this year over the same course and distance under Gavin Lerena, and Strydom last rode him six runs back.

And it wasn’t a case of a flashy late run dash that won the day here.

Strydom had him his mount a few lengths off the pace as Andrew Fortune brought the pacy Distinguished across to the better going from his inside draw.

The smart son of Kahal was still going well inside the 400m as apprentice Jarryd Penny got to work on Right To Tango, as Adams Rock disappointingly fell away to nothing.

Flag Of France came forward powerfully in the final 200m to win by 1,50 lengths in a time of 83,18 secs.

The weight differential in his favour of 6,5kgs was just too much for the Listed Darley Arabian winner Distinguished, to bear at the end of the day, but he held on well for second and will improve his fitness levels with this run under the belt.

Right To Tango came on well for third, while the weak 3 to 1 favourite Due And Payable finished a quiet fourth.

Flag Of France was bred by Chris Saunders and is by The Sheik out of the five time winning Val Des Bois mare Fields Of France, who raced in the famous white, red and green of the well known KZN racing administrator.

Flag Of France has won 3 races from 28 starts, for 8 places. He has earned R235 350

Strydom registered a double on the day when he partnered the favourite Veto to win the seventh race.

Star Stuff

The top performance of the afternoon was probably the extraordinary win by Lucky Houdalakis’ debutante Jenny Green in the opener, a Workriders Maiden Plate run over 1200m.

His charge Jenny Green went off at any old price and after flyjumping at the gate and losing about seven lengths, she was casually eased back into the race by Phillip Mlangeni.

At the 300m she had caught up and at the 70m marker stuck her head between the favourite, Classic Traveller and Felan.  At the line Mlangeni was waving to the crowd, a plan clearly come together!

Trainer Lucky Houdalakis said that Mlangeni had made mistakes in his previous rides, but that the penny had finally ropped.

The stats show that Houdalakis has kept faith with Mlangeni since his first ride on 20 December 2008.

This was his fourteenth try after never having run a place previously.

To Mlangeni’s full credit though, it is worth noting that he hasn’t exactly been riding the stable stars either!

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