Smart Alec’s Peaches ‘n Cream!

It's been a long time between drinks!

It’s been a long time between drinks for Alec Laird.

Eight years have passed since the Randjesfontein-based trainer last stood in the winner’s horseshoe at Hollywoodbets Greyville, that after champion Smart Call’s victory in the Gr1 Woolavington 2000.

Hence there was plenty to celebrate after his Peach Daiquiri won the World Sports Betting Gr2 Fillies Guineas this past weekend.

In what was her first success at stakes level, the daughter of Vercingetorix outgunned the more fancied Cape contingent of Saartjie and the Drakenstein duo of Hold My Hand and favourite Golden Hostess.

Peach Daiquiri takes advantage of a clear traffic-free passage to win well under Louis Mxothwa (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

No champagne or rum for the affable trainer afterwards though: “I had a whisky daiquiri instead,” he quipped.

The Hollywoodbets Greyville classic was only Peach Daiquiri’s third start for Alec and she came to him with a huge reputation, notwithstanding her disappointing effort in the WSB Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas in December.

That was her first defeat and came on the back of a scintillating three-win streak for Gqeberha trainer Sharon Kotzen.

A runaway winner on debut (she trotted up by almost nine lengths), the Maine Chance bred went on to inflict two defeats on Dahlia Plate victress Ekoria, the last of which a five-length drubbing over 1400m. That was no mean feat, considering her rival has since won the Listed Breeders Guineas and is arguably the leading sophomore filly in the Eastern Cape.

No doubt many will wonder why Peach Daiquiri left the Kotzen stable, but as Alec explained:

“The arrangement with the owner was that if she was any good, she would relocate to Johannesburg, so I was lucky to get her.”

Off the track for three months, the filly made her debut for the Laird stable at Turffontein in mid-March and was patently ring-rusty when finishing nearer last than first over 1160m.

Alec Laird (3rd from left) on the podium with Gold Circle Director Lance Whiteford, WSB’s Steve Karam and Gallop TV’s Rahiel Radhakrishna (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

That run blew away the cobwebs, for upon her return a month later, she showed a welcome glimpse of her true form when a close-up fifth, again over 1160m.

“She has learned to settle in her last two starts, as opposed to her previous runs, where she would pull herself to the front. Also, she was way above herself in the Cape Fillies Guineas.”

Alec’s decision to travel to KZN for the Guineas was fully vindicated. ” We always thought she’d go the mile, especially at Hollywoodbets Greyville. She’s not very big, but she has a huge stride. She’s a bit of a character, she’s so gutsy.”

Instead of leaving her in KZN for the season, Alec elected to return his prized filly to her Randjiesfontein base.

“I thought I would like to keep her in familiar surroundings. She is home for now and travelled well. We might return for the Woolavington or the Garden Province, but obviously she would meet far stronger and there is the matter of stamina.”

Alec’s concerns as regards the 2000m trip of the Gr1 Woolavington 2000 may be valid to a degree, considering Peach Daiquiri is out of a mare by Querari.

Interestingly, she is bred on the same cross as former Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas Fillies winner Chansonette, who never won beyond a mile.

However, that came as no surprise, given the fact that her dam was a sprinter, pure and simple, whereas Peach Daiquiri’s dam Pomona scored twice over a mile.

Did you see the race?

Out of the unraced Candy Stripes mare Peru, Pomona is also a half-sister to Gr3 Winter Derby winner Punta Arenas, who scored up to 2400m and famously, was the runner-up in Silvano’s epic 2015 Durban July hat-trick.

Besides, another family member, the Silvano gelding Plano, captured the lung-bursting Port Elizabeth Gold Cup over 3600m.

The Gr1 Garden Province, also over a mile, may well be a bridge too far at this stage of Peach Daiquiri’s career, but Alec is nothing if not philosophical: “There is always next season.”

Spoken like a true professional!

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