Taking Karl for Grant-ed!

Kenilworth 7 September

Top ride! Grant Van Niekerk rode a great double today.

Youthful energy versus age and experience! Young Cape rider Grant Van Niekerk dished out a free lesson in committed race riding to a bewildered veteran Karl Neisius at Kenilworth on 7 September. Van Niekerk comprehensively outrode the Western Cape’s senior statesman of the jockey ranks when piloting Great Kali to an entertaining win in the seventh race.

Van Niekerk has made a flying start to the 2011/12 season. After missing the first two weeks, he  recorded his ninth winner here on the Alan Higgins gelding in the familiar Willempie Engelbrecht Jnr silks. It was also the youngster’s second winner on the afternoon, after he had won the third race on the Greg Ennion-trained Feel My Love.

Justin Snaith’s boom three year old Amber Palace stood out amongst the older horses in the MR78 Handicap over 1400m, but after looking a trifle underdone in the preliminaries, he drifted to 3-1 and  ran a moderate and disappointing fourth in a race where he was not too well in-but where we would have expected him to prove himself. On the flipside, the five year old Jet Master gelding Great Kali took it up early and galloped strongly into the final 300m. Neisius swept past him on the Bass looker Western Count and was being hailed a winner.  But young Van Niekerk had  other ideas and he got Great Kali to rally.

Dream finish. Grant Van Niekerk drops Neisius in a top ride.

In a grandstand finish, and something we don’t see too often, he convinced and coaxed his mount to run past Western Count and win a great race. Neisius, who rode his first winner on Glad Rag Doll in the early 1970’s, and long before  Van Niekerk was born, must have wondered where it all went wrong, after he had it in the bag. Did he misjudge things? Or should all the credit go to the youngster who showed the importance of riding a horse all the way to the line and in never saying die? Maybe Western Count is also just a big brass? The jury will be out on this race and the debate should be a lively one indeed.

The two five year olds had also filled first and second position at their last outing over the course and distance. Today Western Count was 1,5 kilos better off for a 0,75 length beating then. He did have a wide draw to contend with though but it appears that what Great Kali lacks for in raw ability, he makes up for in pure heart. He is the kind of horse we’d go to war with. We await their next encounter with some interest.

No mistakes. Karl Neisius pilots Shimmering Jet home after a clever ride.

Neisius was seen at his brilliant best earlier in the afternoon when getting the quite moderate Shimmering Jet home in the Maiden Plate (Fillies and Mares) over 2000m to beat the hot favourite Moon By Night. The veteran jockey took the lead early and dictated the pace all the way into the home straight. The pair appeared to be running on empty about 300m out as Fourie switched Moon By Night out for a run. Neisius was bluffing though and he got the Jet Master filly to give her all in a drive to the line. She may battle to win again in Cape Town but it was a masterful ride from the veteran and one cannot see her ever finishing ahead of Moon By Night again! Surely?

The Glen Puller-trained Requiem gelding Kwaheri gained a long overdue second win under a determined ride by Richard Fourie in the MR72 Handicap over 2400M. The long-time pacemaker Louisiana Dandy continued to gallop at the 200m marker but Fourie relentlessly punched away at his mount who seemed to stay on better – rather than actually quickening. Karl Neisius had to play second fiddle on the Kannemeyer gelding Luno, who had every chance but just could not get past the gallant Bush Hill Stud bred Kwaheri.

Used to it? Chateau Royale and Glen Hatt are led in by Derek Brugmann.

Atlantic Beach–based Jockey Glen Hatt only started riding in the new season on 24 August and would have been relieved to have ridden his second winner in as many meetings, when steering the brilliant Bravura’s somewhat less illustrious full brother, Chateau Royale, to a smooth win in the fifth race, an MR86 Handicap over 2000m. Hatt has ridden a frustrating five seconds since his return to riding, but rode a confident race to get the better of the improved Peregrine Power in an, admittedly, rather jaded field of handicappers. The fancied pacemaker Spitfire Run had nothing to offer late but stayed on one-paced to save PA punters. Joey Ramsden’s winner was led in by recently appointed Mayfair Speculators racing manager, Derek Brugmann.

Sean Cormack was the day’s other most successful jockey with a double. He opened the meeting on the smart looking Lecture gelding Split The Profit, who atoned for his disappointing run as an inexplicably well beaten favourite under Andrew Fortune last time, to win the Maiden Plate over 1200m easily. Cormack closed the afternoon with an end-to-end win on the obviously talented Dynasty filly Blouberg Beach, who won the MR70 Handicap over 1200m from start to finish. She has now won two of three starts for her lucky owners, Lynne Matthysen and Roz Mardon.

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