Rafeef Powers Danehill Resurgence

The word ‘bizarre’ probably best describes the delay to the start of Turffontein’s Gr2 Topbet Mike O’Connor Joburg Spring Challenge on Saturday, where jockey S’mango Khumalo bailed from favourite William Robertson just minutes before the off, after the four-year-old had gone to post rather scratchily.

However, the vet passed the horse fit to race and a scramble for a replacement rider resulted in Muzi Yeni jumping aboard the Corne Spies runner, who duly obliged to take the honours.

Rafeef  (Redoute’s Choice – National Colour)

His success not only completed a fine double for breeders Ridgemont Highlands – it followed on that of Humdinger’s all-the-way victory in the preceding Gr2 Topbet Joburg Spring Fillies & Mares Challenge – and it once again threw the spotlight on his young sire Rafeef.

Arguably the new flagship stallion of the famed Robertson nursery, the Gr1 winning sprinter was the country’s leading Freshman sire of 2021 and from that first crop have emerged the Gr1 winners Aragosta (SA Derby) and Master Archie (Computaform Sprint).

Adding to that fine start, second crop son Thunderstruck became his sire’s third Gr1 winner with success in last season’s Gold Medallion.

A great-grandson of Danzig, Rafeef is fast emerging as a fitting successor to erstwhile Highlands-based champion National Assembly, who proved himself the best son of Danzig to stand in this country.

In contrast, another Danzig son, the accomplished Danehill, failed to make the same impact in South Africa.

Except for Duke Of Marmalade and Oratorio, both of which were already proven by the time they arrived in South Africa, a good number of his sons commenced their stud careers in this country, and for the most part, the collateral results were largely disappointing.

Only Toreador and Overlord have succeeded at Gr1 level, and one can argue that the latter’s sole stakes winner, the champion sprinter Talktothestars, single-handedly saved his sire from obscurity.

Fortunately, we are now witnessing the resurgence of Danehill through Rafeef, who is by his champion Australian son Redoute’s Choice.

As for William Robertson, his first Gr1 success can surely not be far off. Third in the Gr1 Premier’s Challenge as a juvenile, he was unlucky to run into a rampant Captain’s Ransom in last season’s Gr1 Mercury Sprint, going down by a half-length.

By the way, his dam Massachusetts is a daughter of Trippi, whose influence once again resonated across South African racing this past weekend.

Trippi: End Sweep – Jealous Appeal (Valid Appeal)
(Pic – Drakenstein Stud)

The Drakenstein linchpin dominated the Hollywoodbets Durbanville meeting where he not only sired four winners, but his progeny also captured both Graded stakes in the light blue silks.

Candice Bass-Robinson-trained Santa Maria followed in the footsteps of Hammie’s Hooker, Inara, and Love To Boogie as her sire’s fourth winner of the Gr3 Hollywoodbets Diana Stakes, whilst stable companion Trip To Fortune completed the double in a grandstand finish to the Gr3 Hollywoodbets Matchem Stakes.

Drakenstein’s purple patch with its homebreds continues unabated, the Gr3 double following barely a week after Somerset Maugham claimed the Listed Settler’s Trophy. Adding to the farm’s red-letter day, aforementioned Humdinger was one of three winners on the day for resident stallion What A Winter, whose cracking start to the new racing season has propelled him to the top of the General Sires List.

Duke Of Marmalade

On an international note, the late Drakenstein-based Duke Of Marmalade featured as the broodmare sire of three-year-old Place Du Carrousel, an upset winner of the Gr1 Prix de l’Opera on the Arc undercard at Longchamp.

Trained by Andre Fabre, she is the first foal of Duke Of Marmalade’s Gr2 winning daughter Traffic Jam.

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