SA-breds fly high in Far East

Barely seven days after Flax (Silvano) captured the Gr1 Raffles Cup at Kranji, there was further South African success both in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Flax’s fellow Maine Chance-bred compatriot Ato (Royal Academy) ran out a convincing winner of the Gr3 Saas Fee Stakes (1400m) at Kranji, while Goldkeeper gelding Cerise Cherry scored an emphatic victory in the Gr2 Premier Bowl at Sha Tin.

The seven-year-old chestnut was landing this 1200m prize for a second time, having prevailed in 2010 when it was still a Gr3 contest, and in doing so, gave South African jockey Richard Fourie his first Group race success in Hong Kong. Cerise Cherry tracked the front-running Aashiq in third under Fourie, and approaching the 250m mark, the pair moved alongside. After holding his run for a stride or two, Fourie unleashed his mount inside the 200m and Cerise Cherry scooted clear for a convincing two and a quarter-length verdict. Trainer Derek Cruz is hopeful his charge will make the cut for the 9 December Gr1 Longines Hong Kong Sprint, which fell to South African-bred J J The Jet Plane two years ago. Cruz’s charge drew a blank last season but gelding has clearly rekindled his enthusiasm for racing.
“Richard rode a brilliant race,” said the trainer. “The horse won this race two years ago but at the start of last season he was showing no interest and lost the plot completely. We gelded him (last November) and his form picked up in the late part of the season – he ran well last time out and today he has run a very good race. We will aim to get him into the big race (in December).”

Bred by Geoff Armitage and one of six winners out of Cherry Girl (Pochard), the R220, 000 graduate of 2007 National Yearling Sale proved his class at two and three when trained by Paul Matchett. A multiple Gr1-placed juvenile, he landed the Gr.3 Graham Beck at three, in addition to which he finished second in the Gr1 SA Classic.  This was the veteran’s fourth victory in the former Colony.

Trainer Patrick Shaw also has his eyes set on the Hong Kong Gr1 Sprint for Ato, who added to a growing trophy collection with his latest score. Ridden by Barend Vorster and carrying the blue and pink silks of Newbury Racing, the bay entire had set up a winnable advantage passing the quarter mark and was pushed out to the line to score a commanding one-and-a-quarter length victory over King Empire (Minardi), with Excavator (Happy Giggle) a neck away third.
“He has done us so proud this horse,” said Shaw. “He has done whatever we have asked of him. Being a sound horse, we’ll look at giving him one more run before Hong Kong and keep him ticking over and being a colt we’ll keep him racing otherwise he can get away from us.”
Ato, already a Gr1 winner courtesy of his score in the KrisFlyer Sprint earlier this year, took his record to nine wins with his latest success. Raced in partnership by Dennis Evans’ Newbury Racing and Maine Chance owner Dr Andreas Jacobs, the half-brother to Gr3-placed Another Giant (Giant’s Causeway) is out of the American Gr2 winner Another Legend (Lyphard’s Wish).

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