Polar Bound’s racing career has already had its share of ups and downs, but the gelding has always looked to have considerable ability and put his name up in lights when recording a first Stakes success in the Peninsula Handicap over 1800m at Kenilworth on Wednesday, writes MATTHEW LIPS.
Eleven lined up for the race and it was Run For It who went off as the 17/10 favourite to finally register his first win since October 2010 after having been arguably unlucky not to finish closer than third in the Gr2 Premier Trophy over the same course-and-distance in December. Super Storm had also been done no favours by a slow early pace when finishing fifth in that event and was the 7/2 second favourite here, with Brown Penny the third choice of punters at 5/1. Polar Bound was coming off two successive wins in less exalted handicaps and started at 13/2.
Once again there was no great pace to speak of and Run For It found himself in front early on before Saluki went around horses to make the running at a leisurely tempo, with Run For It racing keenly in second as Cask, Azeroth, and Brown Penny followed the leading duo. Run For It was again duelling for the lead as they turned for home, but he started to look very vulnerable halfway down the straight and began to weaken. The race was wide open coming to the final 200m, but Polar Bound was quickening well and Astro News was beginning to make rapid headway down the inside as Brown Penny edged closer as well.
Polar Bound was driven to the front inside the closing stages by Karis Teetan and kept going strongly to hold Astro News at bay with almost half-a-length to spare. Caymen Island ran on well to finish only about a neck further away in third, with Brown Penny only able to stay on and finish fourth, 1.75 lengths adrift of the third horse. Super Storm was never dangerous before finishing fifth, although beaten less than three lengths, while Run For It probably paid the price for racing keenly for much of the contest and faded to be beaten more than eight lengths, with only Azeroth behind him at the line.
Connections and fans alike of Run For It must be wondering what it will take for the talented four-year-old son of Dynasty to ever win another race. His task on these handicap terms was never going to be that easy and it could easily be argued that Brown Penny had him well held at the weights on their meeting in a conditions race won by Lion In Winter over 1800m in November. However, it was still difficult not to be disappointed by Run For It’s effort here.
Astro News put up a most encouraging effort in his first try over this distance and in only his second appearance since relocating to Cape Town, but he was receiving 2kgs from the winner and will need to do more to have a winning chance in the Gr1 Investec Cape Derby later in January.
Polar Bound is not amongst the current entries for the J & B Met on January 28th and would need to improve again on this form to have any realistic chance in the big Kenilworth showpiece, but Brett Crawford’s gelding is a very useful sort who has not been beaten on the last four occasions that he raced in a handicap. He has never won a set weights event beyond maiden level, but has obviously turned into a more than decent handicapper. There may well be another decent prize to be won with him, although he was flat to the boards to win the Peninsula off a mark of 96 and it remains to be seen how much higher he can climb in the merit ratings before his winning streak in handicaps comes to a halt.
Polar Bound is a son of Western Winter out of the Australian-bred Citidancer mare Travel In Front, who won six races up to 2000m in South Africa and finished second at Listed level. She is also the dam of multiple Gr2/Gr3 winner and 2007 champion male stayer Long Dollar, and of Listed winner Bound To Travel, the latter a full brother to Polar Bound. Bred at Lammerskraal Stud, Polar Bound has won five times from 16 starts and earned R399 060.
Peninsula Hcp (SAf-G2) (1/4)
Kenilworth, South Africa, January 4, R300.000, 1800m, turf, good, 1.53.57 (CR 1.48.98).
POLAR BOUND (SAF), 54.0, b g 4, Western Winter – Travel In Front (AUS) by Citidancer (IRE). Owner J Crawford, G R Almanza, K Martin, R V Norton, I Robinson, R J Ward; breeder Lammerskraal Stud (SAF); trainer B J Crawford; jockey K Teetan (R198.913)
Astro News (SAF), 52.0, ch g 3, Silvano (GER) – Orange Moon (SAF) by Dominion Royale (GB)
Caymen Island (SAF), 56.0, b g 6, Fanatic Dane (NZ) – Cayman Ridge (SAF) by Al Mufti
Margins: nk, sh hd, 1¾
Also ran: Brown Penny (SAF) 54.0, Super Storm (SAF) 59.0, Saluki (GB) 53.0, Cask (SAF) 60.0, League Of Honour (AUS) 55.0, Hawk’s Eye (GB) 55.0, Run For It (SAF) 59.0, Azeroth (SAF) 52.0