The inaugural running of the Sun Met in 2017 gave Ridgemont-Highlands sponsored jockey Greg Cheyne a memorable high in an illustrious 28 year career in the saddle.
The multiple East Cape champion jockey rides longshot More Magic in the 2020 renewal of the Cape flagship feature on Saturday.
The 43 year old, who rode his 100th winner of the season last Wednesday at Fairview and five winners at the same venue on Monday, chatted to the Sporting Post and reflected back on some wonderful days.
In the past decade his 2009 Durban July success on Big City Life, and then Whisky Baron’s perfectly planned big race assault that gave brothers Craig and Ross Kieswetter an early dizzying high in a fiercely competitive sport, are two that stand out.
Click below to enjoy a recent memory
“For a jockey every win is important as every horse has an owner, trainer, breeder and stable staff working hard towards a goal. But these major days are extra special. Whisky Baron was a classically planned team effort every step of the way. A ‘soft’ approach that worked perfectly. And then on that sunny Saturday afternoon after 4pm, we were in the starting stalls and then it was all over to me and the Aussie. When he pulled me through late and the crowd erupted, it was a spine tingling moment. What a horse and what an incredible honour and privilege to give the Kieswetters their first major race success and Brett Crawford his third Met win.”
Former England international Craig Kieswetter backed up Greg’s description of the magic moment at the time.
“It’s a very different feeling. I was very lucky to play cricket internationally, but the Met win topped it all. To celebrate it with my family made it an even prouder moment.”
The Australian-bred Whisky Baron’s Met success made it five straight wins after his gelding six month earlier. While many doubted the Manhattan Rain galloper’s ability to takes on the likes of Legal Eagle, he proved them all so wrong.
Greg rides longshot Captain Al gelding More Magic – around 66 to 1 with Hollywoodbets when we last looked – for owners Jagessar Limited and trainer Candice Bass-Robinson on Saturday.
“It’s a class field and the top-rated quartet speak for themselves. On the weight-for-age terms of the race, More Magic is not well in. But he is a young relatively unexposed horse on the way up and I believe he has the capability to run above his rating. I have ridden him twice previously. At his last run in the Peninsula Handicap, he had no luck in running from a wide draw but still stayed on well and was beaten 2,55 lengths by Justin Snaith’s highly regarded Belgarion. This is the big league – but we won’t go down without our best shot,” he added enthusiastically.
Greg said he could not complain about his 7 draw.
“I am not concerned about the pace either. There are a few horses who could go up and do the work. I expect it to be fair and Head Honcho could well be the pacesetter – he ran from the front last year when staying on for third. But conditions on the day, from the weather to luck at the gates, can change plans in the blink of an eye.”
He says More Magic is a fit and versatile horse. In terms of race placement, this would give him more options as the contest unfolded.
We asked him to step into the shoes of a member of the public looking to have a bet or win the R8 million quartet on the race.
“Rainbow Bridge is the title holder. He has done nothing wrong and his prep looks to have gone really well. He is the horse to beat in my book.”
And does Ryan Moore influence that decision at all?
“Look, there is absolutely no harm in having the world’s current second highest rated jockey in the driving seat!” he smiles.
We asked Greg whether he had ridden with the British star and if he felt Moore’s lack of familiarity with the Kenilworth track would be of any consequence.
“When I rode Whisky Baron in England in the Shadwell Joel Stakes, Ryan rode in the same race. And we have ridden in Hong Kong. As for his unfamiliarity with Kenilworth, one only has to look at his international Gr1 track record to understand how top guys adapt to conditions. He has won Gr1 races in both hemispheres at a variety of tracks.”
Beyond his Met engagement, Greg has 10 other rides on Sun Met Day:
Race 1 – Bad Habit runs in the Maiden Plate (F & M):
I have not ridden her previously but she is consistent. Even if one or two others may have stronger form, I expect her to be competitive and she looks a fair each way bet.
Race 3 – Eternal Hope runs in the Listed Summer Juvenile Stakes:
Alan Greeff has had success in this race in the past. Eternal Hope won easily on her Fairview debut in good time. But given the varying rates of improvement, the 2yo form is very difficult to unravel. I can tell you that she is a nice filly and won’t disgrace herself.
Race 4 – Three Two Charlie runs in the CTS 1200:
He is a horse with a nice future. Looking at his recent form- he was not ready for the 1400m Cape Classic but ran a decent race. Then he was run off his feet in the Need For Speed Sprint last time. This is the course and distance he won the Sophomore over – he is perfectly suited to the track and trip. He must be included in all calculations.
Race 5 – Sovereign Secret runs in the CTS 1600:
She is a beautifully bred filly and we have a decent draw in our favour. On paper she appears held, but I would be happy to get her to earn a cheque – they pay up to fifth.
Race 6 – Viking Moon runs in the Gr3 Politician Stakes:
He is an interesting runner. I thought he may be a sprinter – I won the Nursery on him last season. He stayed on smartly for 6th and about 6 lengths off Kilindini in the Cape Guineas last time. The handicapper liked that run too as he went up from a 105 to a 109. He has been prepared for the extra 200m here and I galloped him a fortnight back. He worked well. If he settles and gets the trip, he is a competitive runner.
Race 7 – Bold Respect runs in the Gr1 Cape Flying Championship:
He is a Gr1 winning sprinter and a lovely horse. I rode him for the first time at his last start. We finished 3rd behind Chimichuri Run and ahead of Kasimir. That was a good prep. But one only has to look at the likes of unbeaten Run Fox Run and the – now fitter – defending champion Kasimir to see that the race is very competitive. I nevertheless expect Bold Respect to give a good account of himself.
Race 8 – Kelpie runs in the Gr1 Majorca Stakes:
This is a quality race as it always is. I have won three races on Kelpie. She is a smart filly and one of only two 3yo’s in the race. She is fit and nicely drawn, so ticks the boxes. I would like to see a top three finish from her. My stablemate Front And Centre is the horse to beat
Race 10 – Crome Yellow runs in Gr2 Western Cape Stayers:
I’d regard him as one of the most improved horses in the Cape. He has been maintaining a consistent line of form and we only went down narrowly in the Chairmans last time. Tries the 2800m for the first time and is poorly handicapped here. So he is up against it. But he is a real trier.
Race 11 – What A Flirt runs in a Maiden Plate (F & M):
I have ridden her at all four starts. She needed her last run and moved up late before tiring. But she pulled up well and she must go close here.
Race 12 – Congo Compaq runs in an MR 85 Handicap:
I rode him earlier on. He won his maiden at his fifth start last time. So this is first time out of the maidens. He is still an immature horse. Probably a back end of the quartet chance.