Mother Nature and Murphy’s Law conspired to deal 4Racing something of a wildcard with the rain arriving with force at Turffontein on Sunday to end the strategically important three-feature racemeeting after the running of just the third race.
The balance of the carded races could not be held due to deteriorating track conditions, after a severe thunderstorm descended over the course. The volume of water rendered the track unsafe for horse and rider.
4Racing, much to the inevitable chagrin of various stakeholders, took the decision to reschedule the features to this coming Saturday 13 January and to reopen entries yesterday for the Listed Wolf Power 1600, the Gr3 Mother Russia Stakes and the Betway Gr3 Got The Greenlight Stakes.
Declarations were made today and the fields now look slightly different.
R350 000 1400m 15:20 Ref-461
1st R218750, 2nd R70000, 3rd R35000, 4th R17500, 5th R8750
BETWAY GOT THE GREENLIGHT STAKES (Grade 3)
3 year olds
No Apprentice / Female Sex Allowance
|Diego De Gouveia
|Mike de Kock
|The Africa House
|J A Janse van Vuuren
|Mike de Kock
With the R1 million WSB Gr2 Gauteng Guineas to be run on 3 February just over three weeks away, both the Got The Greenlight Stakes and the Wolf Power 1600 presented prep opportunities for the first leg of the SA Triple Crown.
And then there was also the undeniable public entertainment lure of the much anticipated, and now sadly washed-out clash of arch rivals Sandringham Summit (originally drawn 1), and Main Defender (draw 5), in the Got The Greenlight Stakes.
So what’s happened?
Trainer David Nieuwenhuizen reportedly decided that Saturday 13 January was too close to the Guineas on 3 February, and pulled Sandringham Summit out of both the reopened Got The Greenlight Stakes (where he drew wide), and the Wolf Power 1600, where he drew 1.
But that doesn’t make it a one-horse affair!
The shrewd tactician Mike de Kock could be a party spoiler for the Main Defender (now drawn 8 of 9) connections, with the unbeaten and progressive Silvano filly Champagne Cocktail, who gets 4,5kgs from the Tony Peter star, as she is switched from the Mother Russia Stakes, her original carding on Sunday, to try and capitalize on the ‘weakened’ boys’ contest for Saturday.
We asked 4Racing’s Head Of Racing Operations Gabi Soma to explain his decision to re-open the features afresh, rather than postpone.
“There were a number of considerations. The local conditions indicate that we can postpone any Gr1, but give the option to re-open Gr2, Gr3 and Listed races. I did go back on the records, and note that we have never postponed over an extended period and have always re-opened the event. I also even considered the option of maintaining the fields, and then inviting supplementary entries. This was not a workable alternative,” he explained after indicating that given the proximity to other features, they could also well have ended up with trainers scratching had they left Sunday’s fields intact, and thus have had substantially reduced numbers.
“Sandringham Summit’s trainer David Nieuwenhuizen did indicate on Sunday afternoon that he would not run the star colt on Saturday 13th January. He did enter him in both options on Monday though, and drew 1 in the Wolf Power. So had he intended to run with a better draw, that was an option,” he added.
Soma said that the weather was obviously an uncontrollable, and there was always likely to be somebody disappointed after a reshuffle.
“We did what we believed was in the best interests of racing, and naturally we would dearly have wanted to have the two top 3yo’s bumping heads. It may be worth mentioning that I have since canvassed 48 trainers to determine what our stakeholders would prefer to do going ahead. The survey initially delivered a 24 for, and 24 against the reopening of entries. One trainer subsequently had a change of heart, so it ended up 25 against, and 23 for reopening. So, it is something that is worth considering for further discussion. But ultimately, there are many uncontrollable factors, and the revised timing, coupled with the barrier draws always being a random, will have some people happy, and some less so,” he concluded.