Simply The Crest

MR 90 Handicap at the Vaal on Thursday, 17 May

Patience rewarded. Three year-old Golden Crest is coming along the right way.

Catch a monkey slowly. The patient approach often pays dividends in horseracing and a smart three year old steps out at the Vaal on Thursday afternoon to contest the 1800m Racing Association MR 90 Divided Handicap. Golden Crest looks set to record his hat-trick of wins and continue his cautious climb up the ladder. 

Longstanding owners Gladys and Roy Meaker have won far bigger races than this midweek feature and are having their best season in a good few years with some smart three year olds sporting their instantly recognisable red and yellow silks in both Durban and Johannesburg.

Family Values

The Silvano gelding Golden Crest is one of the  Meaker  family’s  fast rising stars and he looks particularly smart and progressive. Bred by Roy Meaker, he is a low-key, scopy sort, who has frankly been rather molly-coddled by the astute horseman Geoff Woodruff.

The shrewd trainer has avoided the bump and grind of the hard school of the classics and brought him along  relatively slowly. The patience appears to have paid dividends, and he takes the next step on Thursday with the services again of champion jockey Anton Marcus. And despite lumping a hefty 60,5 kgs, he looks the likely winner.

Golden Crest has only seen the racecourse six times and has won thrice  and been placed on two others. His three wins have all been achieved over a mile, but there is little concern that he will have  a problem with the extra 200m here as he won his races by a collective 9,25 lengths. He hardly looked particularly stretched or stressed in the process.

In his last outing, also at this MR 90 level, he toyed with St John Gray’s fairly able shooter, the year older  Super Trouper,  and beat him by 3,75 lengths. Granted, Golden Crest was receiving 5kgs but it was the facile manner of his victory that impressed.  Super Trouper gave 3kgs away and ran 2,25 lengths behind recent Gr2 Camelia Stakes winner Welwitschia over 1400m at Turffontein in mid-March. We can draw all kinds of lines and conclusions from these collaterals, but Golden Crest faces some relatively ordinary opposition here in reality.

Support Staff

Woodruff sends out a three way coupling and his support duo are made up of two former Western Cape horses who have both had their moments in the spotlight up North.

The better of the two may prove to be the former Mike Bass-trained Count Dubois four year old Luminous Love, who is in the form of his life having won four of his seven Gauteng starts and sets out to achieve his hat-trick here. That is not bad going for a horse who left Cape Town a one-time winner. He may prefer 200m further and should be a quartet prospect at best.

Fort Lodge also left Cape Town a one-time winner, having scored a weak Durbanville 2000m maiden win for Joey Ramsden. He has won once on turf and once on sand, both over 1800m, in Gauteng. He has the beating of Luminous Love on their last meeting on Worker’s Day, but although well drawn at 3, jockey Hennie Greyling has declared a kilo over, so negates the advantage somewhat.

The hard-hitting Joey Soma sends out three year old Wagner for Ingrid and Markus Jooste. Piere Strydom gets on the horse whose name is often mutilated and mauled by race-callers. The son of Tiger Ridge is quite in-and-out but has won three of his nine starts. His best effort was his win in the Listed Secretariat Stakes over 1400m towards the end of 2011. He won an Mr 92 Handicap over 1800m in March and then ran a fair third in the Derby Trial behind Zambucca last month.

Wagner’s efforts in the Gauteng Guineas and SA Derby are best forgotten. The Derby was also only run two weeks ago and that may have taken the spark out of him. It is mystifying that Piere Strydom rides him for the fourth consecutive time and that is really the only reason we would rate him with a chance.

Coast Guard

Erico Verdonese takes his chances with the seven year old Caribbean Coast who has been on the go without a break since January 2011. That means he is a workaholic, a very fit horse or a hardy sound sort. Or a combination of the characteristics.  But he invariably tries his damndest, and is often a nice quartet kicker for punters.

Caribbean Coast receives 4  kgs here from Golden Crest and that means a 5,5kg turnaround in the weights for a 5,25 length beating at their last meeting, which was over a mile. While poorly drawn at 14, this edge gives him a chance of, at the very least, picking up a stake cheque. Which may mean a well-earned holiday for him. Jockey Muzi Yeni rides him, and he would no doubt love to win this. The talented rider is going through a personal winner drought, having only ridden two winners in a month.

Oh Mother

There are a few others with minor claims. King Fernando was a fairly highly rated three year old who has his second run for Sean Tarry, since moving up from Doug Campbell’s beautiful Sugar Hill Stables at Richmond in KwaZulu-Natal. He admittedly has largely lost the plot and focus and is now a five year old. He also hasn’t won since a wet Durban day in the final forty-eight hours of 2009.

That’s not inspiring stuff, we must admit, But if we go back six months, King Fernando ran last Saturday’s Gr1 Castle Tankard winner Code Rock to 0,25 lengths over 1900 at Greyville. He is a year older than the Alyson Wright-trained gelding and was receiving 2,5kgs from him, but it does illustrate that he has it in him to run a blinder.  And Brandon Lerena,who knows him well, rode him then and puts a leg over again. The change of scenery may also have revived his enthusiasm for racing. While not a horse to risk the rent money on, it may pay to wager a few rand of the Mother’s Day gift budget and take an each-way wager on this Parade Leader gelding, who should be priced around 25-1.

Medical Aid

All said and done, Golden Crest looks the right horse amongst a rather modest and tired lot. His connections will be expecting him to pass this middle-term test with distinction. Evidence of aches and pains, from sore legs to sore backs, that he has experienced in the past, will no doubt concern  his backers though.We thus suggest some caution.

If Golden Crest does not bring his best performance to the Vereeniging track, then the race is quite wide open.  Piere Strydom is a wizard and he could work some magic on the out-of-sorts Wagner. But he will have to pull a rabbit out of the bag.

The best of the seniors could be the Doowaley soldier Caribbean Coast , who seldom runs a bad race. Then the four year old Luminous Love is also chasing his hat-trick and gets on well with Marco Van Resnburg.

We also made a small case for Tarry’s new boy, King Fernando. He could be lurking in the shadows. And if he doesn’t come to the party, there is always another Mother’s Day in 2013.

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