The 2013 Gr2 SA Fillies Nursery winner Virgo’s Babe bounced back to her best at Turffontein on Tuesday evening. The daughter of Malhub confounded the form when powering home to win the R150 000 Listed Swallow Stakes run over the 1160m.
Virgo’s Babe had first risen to prominence as a filly to follow when she won the SA Fillies Nursery beating a quality field and the best of her generation by five lengths. That win was a smart building brick on to her maiden victory, but few would have thought that her connections would have to wait for seven runs before her next win.
But the speedy chestnut put those bad memories well behind her with a smart effort under the lights in the hands of S’manga Khumalo, and her consistency will now be closely monitored by the punting public.
Fransie Naude rode an aggressive race on Samba Serenade in the Peter White silks and she led the outside group as Tiger Quest and Boarding Call led the inside charge.
Into the final 400m Samba Serenade suddenly bounced clear and grabbed the initiative as Tiger Quest faded.
Virgo’s Babe and Samba Serenade came together at the 200m and Virgo’s Babe was straightened by Khumalo as she shifted away from the left and the right handed whip. She eventually put her head down and finished well.
She stormed through down the inside of the grey Samba Serenade to win by a short head in a time of 66,52 secs.
Winning jockey S’manga Khumalo, who ended the evening with a total of four winners, said that his mount had come out of the stalls keenly and as the pace was on he had decided to give her cover.
“She has been known to go fast and then tire late. We tracked Tiger Quest and when I asked her for an effort, she dug deep and won a nice race,” said the national log leading jockey.
A rather relieved looking trainer David Niewenhuizen said there had been a lot of pressure and it had been tough to get her back to where she was.
“It is a team effort though and I am very pleased. I must thank Breeders Manny and Mandy Testa and her owners David and Meryl Foster and Terrance Pandaram. Patience has been the key and we know that she is very talented,” he said.
Virgo’s Babe was bred by Midlands Thoroughbreds and is by Malhub out of the unraced Special Preview mare, Linzertorte.
She has now won 3 races with 5 places from 12 starts and R479 075 in stakes.
The rest of the evening was highlighted by good performances by 3yo’s from the Alec Laird yard.
The Tiger Ridge colt As You Like won the fifth race, a Graduation Plate over a mile. Marthinus Mienie rode a cracker to get the better of Zanzibar Man and Sean Tarry’s Lance, who started odds on favourite. Gavin Lerena who rode the 13 to 20 Lance appeared to be all at sea in the final 100m after he had let his mount stride very freely. Time will tell whether it was a very average ride or if Lance just does not stay a mile.
Laird followed up in the very next race when Mienie again rode a storming race to win on the Greys Inn colt Chekilli to maintain an unbeaten four from four.
Piere Strydom brought Mercado with a flying effort down the outside and he just failed to nab the leader.
Alec Laird should be feeling very excited about the next few months.