The ‘Doctor’ Downs Superman

African Gladiator - just what the doctor ordered

Champion Jockey Anton Marcus found himself outmanoeuvred and comprehensively outplayed by promising young apprentice ‘Doctor’ Siphiso Lembethe in the final race on the Scottsville nine-race programme on Tuesday 7 June.  What makes the young man’s enterprising  ride from the front so much more impressive is that he beat Superman, who was riding a hot order 13-20 favourite, on an 11-1 outsider. It is these sub-plots and games of cat-and-mouse that thankfully often provide the entertainment at these midweek meetings.

When the wage clerk closes his books as the sun sets on the scenic Capital city of KwaZulu-Natal, the records will reflect a  fair day at the office for senior rider, Mr Anton Marcus. He rode three nice winners, but the Sabine Plattner odds-on shot in the final race was rumoured from Cato Ridge to Clovelly to be the best bet of the day and he probably went into the last looking at rounding off his tally to four with a win for Yogas Govender.  An astute punter or two, although it didn’t reflect at all in the betting, may have detected a warning sign though as they cantered to post. The  son of Lizard Island had to have the reins shaken up more than once as he appeared reluctant to gallop and hardly in the mood for exertion.

There was very little interest in the betting market for anything else in this Maiden over the mile other than the Alastair Gordon gelding Highflats, who was jumping from a 12 draw. Tellytrack presenter Paul Lafferty was harping on as usual about his own horse, It’s Not My Dog, while Steve Benton’s Migail went to post accompanied by the impeccably behaved pony, George. The pace was on from the  jump with Lembethe taking his chances and the fight to Marcus as he bowled along a few lengths clear of the favourite, Lizard’s Passion.  With 300m to go the favourite moved up menacingly as the front-runner started to drift inwards to the rail. This seemed to be the phsychological turning point in the race, as well as a smart piece of race-riding, as African Gladiator changed legs to draw away as the favourite fell in a hole. The Fred Crabbia gelding Mildford  stayed on well from a terrible 15 draw and the Matchett horse should win very soon. It’s Not My Dog ran like a Basset hound and finished out of the money. They say every dog has his day. We do wonder about this one!  Brett Van Laun owns and bred the winner,  who is by Modern Day out of a Harry Hotspur mare.  The very capable frowning Englishman Mark Dixon trains him and he looks a horse that could still improve as he showed guts and resolution at just his eighth outing here. As for Lizard’s Passion? He will have to come back and try another day.

Burn don't tan - Copper Parade is too classy

The mainliner on the day was the seventh race, an MR 93 Handicap over 1200m and it went to the highest rated horse on the card in the Joey Ramsden-trained Copper Parade who came away smartly under Kevin Shea to win his fourth race. This son of Lecture is a Grade 1 winner having famously, or infamously depending on one’s allegiances, won the Golden Horseshoe in his two year old year  on an objection at the  expense of  the De Kock-trained Kavanagh – a subsequent Gr3 winner and certainly no slouch himself. Copper Parade is also a winning product of the Juvenile Stakes race on J&B Met day, won most recently by the Gr1 Allan Robertson winner Princess Victoria. Copper Parade has been flying under the radar of late and is being brought back quietly and shrewdly by his trainer. It must all seem so easy in hindsight for the guys that took the 2-1 and better!

The draws down the Scottsville sprint track seem much better down the middle to inside and in spite of this both the fifth and sixth races were won by horses drawn out wide. Flowers Of Spring recorded a hat-trick of wins when winning the fifth race for Bloodstock specialist Andy Willians and trainer Ivan Moore. This Beaumont Stud bred daughter of Qui Danzig just seems to get better with racing and Corne Orffer rode a good race letting her loose late to storm away from the roughie Bellagio.  Port Elizabeth ‘emigrant’ Queen Tamara ran on well for the Drier yard to bank the third cheque.  As for the much vaunted favourite Ibrox Park, trained by Dominic Zaki, she was never a challenger at the business end and seems a lot of speed and not too much heart. She may prefer Clairwood.

Summerveld trainer Kom Naidoo celebrated the sixth race, an MR75 handicap with a stable exacta when the powerful Muhtafal gelding, Napoleon Dynamite, held on by a whisker under Naresh Juglall to beat another young apprentice on Labello’s Spy. It was the enthusiastic and talented Apprentice Juglall’s 45th career winner and he is a balanced and strong rider. He cleverly drifted his mount across to the livelier ground down the inside and then rocketed clear to win well. The horse was originally purchased by Paul Lafferty, and he seems to be getting better with age. The horse that is.

Dynasty again - Divine Right in a canter

We speak highly of top stallion Dynasty on a daily basis these days, and the son of Fort Wood enjoyed a clean sweep when siring the exacta in the fourth race, a Fillies and Mares MR76 Handicap over 1600m. Anthony Delpech pulled one over Marcus here when riding the Alec Laird filly Divine Right who swept clear late to beat Lineal Factor on whom Marcus tried hard, but to no avail. The winner, started favourite in the first leg of the Pick 6 and was a R525 000 purchase bred by Cheveley Stud out of a National Assembly mare.  She beat the Hyjo bred R80 000 purchase, who is out of Hymie Maisel’s Pole Position mare, Winning Factor.

Anton Marcus put Delpech under some pressure when he started the day with a winning double. The Gavin Van Zyl –trained Awesome Beauty was the medium of a jockey strike and a gamble down to 7-20 in the Maiden Juvenile Plate for fillies and gave Marcus his opening  win – even if it was by an uncomfortably narrow margin. Those punters who saw fit to take the odds-on after she had made a 66-1 debut just a week back with Hermant Ramlugaan up, would have seen Marcus get the daughter of Cataloochee to come right back to get the better of Stuart Randolph and Grand National, who had looked a winner  50m out.  His second riding – fee was earned in easier style when he kept the flashy son of Var, Shot Boy, on the job to hold off a good looking late rattle from the De Kock first-timer, Ginepri. The Ambiance Stud–bred Shot Boy, with ears twitching and looking all over the place, was quite impressive in  the easily recognisable  red and green Joe Abreu silks, and his trainer Paul Peter has certainly made a great start to his training career.

Scottsville is known by varying unkind names to long-time punters, and the term goat-track and graveyard come to mind after PA players took a knock in the first leg of the exotic to show an early minimum dividend of R4-80, when Richmond based Doug Campbell sent the Spaceship three year old Spruced Up out to win readily under Ian Sturgeon at 11-2. The records show that her three part-owners paid just R7000 for her and if this is accurate, good luck to them as she has earned close on R50 000 in her three outings. Campbell has had a quiet time of things late but trains from one of the most beautiful settings at Sugar Hill Farm and there is little doubt that the stable will turn the corner shortly. Chase Maujean got Pretty Pont to run on well for second after she behaved like a delinquent in the preliminaries, while Tiger Run flew late at Christmas odds to grab third spot.

A pleasant day’s racing as we move south towards the more urban surrounds of Clairwood tomorrow – and bigger fields in what looks a Pick 6 minefield!

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