The Defy Racing Association Handicap over 3200m had champion trainer Mike de Kock back in the winner’s circle when Ilsanpietro ran on too stoutly for 14 rivals to win fairly comfortably. However, the race proved to be very much a double-edged sword for the De Kock stable as former Gr 1 winning two-year-old Rocks Off collapsed and died shortly after crossing the line in 12th place.
Ilsanpietro had won a Listed handicap over 2450m on the same course four weeks earlier and went off as the 6/1 favourite in an extremely open market here, with the unfortunate Rocks Off starting as a 13/2 joint second choice alongside his stable companion Elusive Model and Harbor Street.
Ilsanpietro was never too far off the action as Radiant Rock set the early pace with Winning Leap and Harbor Street right in touch. The pace was far from strong, and didn’t exactly make this a real test of two-mile staying power. Radiant Rock compounded soon after turning for home, but from there on in the race favoured those who were within striking distance of the lead. Winning Leap made an early bid for top honours and last season’s Gr 2 Gold Bowl winner made the best of his way home under 60 kgs, but Ilsanpietro wore him down steadily and went on to win by 1.5 lengths from a gallant Winning Leap, who conceded De Kock’s gelding 5 kgs. Mirage Drive probably would have done better with a stronger pace, but stayed on to finish 2.5 lengths behind the winner in third without ever really looking likely to catch the first two. Knight’s Inlet finished fourth, but Elusive Model weakened after having every chance while Harbor Street faded to nothing at all and was beaten 42 lengths at the line.
Ilsanpietro was ridden (as he had been four weeks earlier) by leading apprentice “JP” van der Merwe, who gave the four-year-old another well -judged ride as Ilsanpietro comfortably made light of the seemingly stiff eight pound penalty he had received for his latest success. The Racing Association Handicap may not have been a searching test of stamina, but Ilsanpietro looks to be an improving stayer even so. A four-year-old Brazilian-bred import, he is by Mark Of Esteem out of the Ghadeer mare My Little Life and has won four times from 16 starts, earnings stakes of R409 650 for his owners/breeders Fazenda Mondesir.
Racing Association Hcp (SAf-G3) (11/27)
Turffontein, South Africa, November 27, R225.000, 3200m, turf, good, 3.25.65 (CR 3.20.71).
ILSANPIETRO (BRZ), 55.0, b g 4, Mark Of Esteem (IRE) – My Little Life (BRZ) by Ghadeer (FR). Owner Fazenda Mondesir Int.; breeder Fazenda Mondesir (BRZ); trainer M F de Kock; jockey J Van Der Merwe (140.625)
Winning Leap (SAF), 60.0, b g 4, Labeeb (GB) – Summersault (SAF) by Northern Guest
Mirage Drive (SAF), 57.0, ch g 4, Kahal (GB) – Scenic Drive (SAF) by Qui Danzig
Margins: 1½, 1, nk
Also ran: Knight’s Inlet (SAF) 52.0, Arcola (SAF) 55.5, Royal Captive (AUS) 55.0, Power Lord (SAF) 53.5, Elusive Model (SAF) 53.5, Parlotone (AUS) 52.0, Alif (SAF) 52.0, Saltwater Girl (SAF) 55.0, Rocks Off (ARG) 60.0, Harbor Street (AUS) 52.0, Sun Screen (SAF) 55.0, Radiant Rock (AUS) 52.0