A Star Is Born

Young trainer celebrates as Solskjaer filly wins the R3 million NBT Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup

Millionaire! Winter Star is driven home to win the Ready To Run Cup by an elated Glen Hatt (JC Photos)

Millionaire! Winter Star is driven home to win the Ready To Run Cup by an elated Glen Hatt (JC Photos)

The R3 million Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup produced the finish of the afternoon at Turffontein on Saturday. Winter Star’s terrific win celebrated a career high for trainer Johan Janse Van Vuuren who is  only in his second season of training.

Full marks to the organisers and the marketing brains trust behind this race. The build up and hype in the weeks leading into it were marked by speculation and debate amongst racing enthusiasts. This was fuelled by the publication of regular logs to show the standings in the queue of those desperate for a grab at the big cash on offer.

In the end it was eleven fillies and five colts that cracked the nod and lined up. It was also hardly surprising to see a member of the fairer sex win it.  Although outnumbered, the boys were not disgraced, when they took the next three place cheques. The tenth placed Artic Route, who finished 7,75 lengths adrift, picked up the last prize of R65 000.

With Umgiyo and Dover Beach slow away, MN Byleveld did not hesitate to take the Cape raider Manievic up to lead from Mount Hillaby and Nisa’s Love,

Into the home run these two continued to gallop strongly as Robbie Fradd drove Arcetri Pink down the middle as the Woodruff import loomed up dangerously.

But with all the apparent action in the middle, the high riding Glen Hatt brought the Solskjaer filly Winter Star down the inside with a determined challenge.

Winter Star slipped down the inside rail and ran on powerfully to beat the gallant Mount Hillaby by 1.25 lengths in a time of 84,71secs.

Piere Strydom produced Tyrone Zackey’s Judicial down the wide outside, and the son of Miesque’s Approval flew late to run a cracking, and what at one stage, looked a highly unlikely third.

The Cape visitor Manievic was prominent for much of the journey, but ran out of steam late to finish fourth. The son of Var was the worst drawn of the placed runners, and ran an honest race under the circumstances.

The 31 year old Van Vuuren learnt his trade in one of South Africa’s top yards. The elite Geoff Woodruff ‘college of equine knowledge’ was Van Vuuren’s foundation stone and he started there at the bottom of the ladder as an 18 year old some thirteen years ago.

Van Vuuren saddled his first runner for his own account in November 2012.

He was introduced to winning owner Vicky Veeramootoo by Donavan Mansour, who had met him when he was riding in Mauritius.

The winner was quite appropriately bred by SA champion breeders Summerhill Stud and is by Solskjaer out of the three time winning Exclusive Patriot mare, Winter Dimension.

Winter Star cost just R100 000 at the famous sale and has now won 4 races with 1 place from six starts for total stakes of R1 423 625.

That is the kind of quick return on investment that any owner dreams of.

While Cape Thoroughbred Sales threw a curved ball into the field of play on the eve of this big race with the announcement of their own R1 million dollar race for the Cape in January 2016, there will no doubt be some out of the box thinking to counter the challenge.

As long as racing wins, we are all happy.

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