The doubt of the benefit

Clairwood 26 June

High Five! Anton Marcus enjoyed a great day at Clairwood.

A contentious objection at Clairwood on Sunday 26 June spoilt the outcome of  the Gr2 Gold Circle Derby.

It was a tough call for the Scotts and Keith Steinberg who went on the emotional rollercoaster of seeing their gallant son of Dynasty win a tight finish, followed by a hollow lead-in. Only then to be denied by the stroke of a pen in the boardroom.

What a great pity. The Stipendiary Stewards really need to adopt the cricket maxim of giving the benefit of the doubt to the batsman in these marginal calls. It needs to be shown that the horse who has won  it really doesn’t warrant keeping the race. Not to say that Muzi Yeni exactly distinguished himself on the initial winner, Sage Throne, as he didn’t  switch whip hands from left to right. Anton Marcus also threw the first punch about 350m out with some choice race-riding that saw him squeeze the Dynasty gelding tight as he was making a run. So IL Saggiatore goes down in the history books as the Derby winner, and the Sage Throne connections are left pondering what could have been. Well done to Joey Ramsden and the Joostes – a partnership that has grown in strength in the past six months.There were a few disappointments including the highly vaunted R2 million purchase Roman Wall, who has been touted as something special but ran another bummer. He looks like a flop at this stage.

Interestingly the Derby Stake doesn’t paint a great ecomic picture for the sport of horseracing. Having tumbled right down to a stake of R300 000 today from the R1 million Topsport Bloodline Derby of the early 1990’s, it was also a Group 1 from 1992 to 1996.  Not exactly a selling point to advertise to any prospective investors, is it?

After a bloodied and apparently broken nose yesterday when winning the second race, Anton Marcus edged closer to his arch rival Anthony Delpech, in the race for the token  title of champion jockey. He  recorded a total of five winners on the afternoon which included a Gr2 double, against the Avontuur sponsored rider’s blank scoresheet on the day. The title chase between the two desperately needs a sponsor as it is gripping entertainment. Marcus looks the favourite as he just appears to riding with that edge of confidence. Although Igugu could change all that in three minutes next Saturday at Greyville.

One for the okes! Princess Of Light wins the Oaks with ease.

The R200 000 Gr2 Gold Circle Oaks was the cherry on top of a  profitable weekend in Durban for Geoff Woodruff  and a long overdue and highly deserved Group win for the talented daughter of Var, Princess Of Light. Woodruff brought down a two-berth float and watched his only other runner on the day, Causeway,  score an emphatic win down the inside with a late dash  in the Pick Six opener. The gelded son of Orpen runs in the easily recognisable interests of the Mike Fullard and James Drew partnership as well as Woodruff himself, and Felix Coetzee got it third time lucky.

It was Princess Of Light who grabbed the attention though. The roar could be heard from Somerset West to Sandton as Anton Marcus drove the odds-on shot  down the inside rail with James Goodman’s Las Ramblas making little impression in the final 200m. Midnight Dazzler had cut out a good pace until the 400m marker where Marcus made his match winning move. He explained afterwards that everything had ‘gone wrong’ in the race with the filly coming into the straight having dropped the bit and on the wrong foot and he had thought that she had broken down.

The connections flew down from Gauteng in Lawrence Wernar’s private jet to watch their superstar try a left-handed turn for the first time and they were not disappointed.  Beyond Igugu, this is certainly no vintage crop of staying three year old fillies, and Ilha Grande and Margaret Court were found to be out of their depth and just not good enough.

For the Forest Wildcat stallion Var, this win put the cap on a great season in which he produced a champion sprinter in Val De Ra and an Oaks winner. This certainly vindicates  the steadfast belief of his owners and proves that he has the stamp of quality to make his mark in SA horseracing. Good sires must have the ability to produce the Classic winners and a good range of horses. He sure does just that!


Gold Circle Derby (SAf-G2) (6/26)
Clairwood, South Africa, June 26, R300.000, 2400m, turf, good, 2.34.15 (CR 2.27.30).
1 – IL SAGGIATORE (AUS), 58.0, b g 3, Galileo (IRE) – Smidgin (AUS) by Snippets (AUS). Owner Mrs I and Mr M J Jooste; breeder Glentree Downs Pastoral (AUS); trainer J Ramsden; jockey A Marcus (R198.913)
2 – Sage Throne (SAF), 58.0, b g 3, Dynasty (SAF) – Sage Blue (SAF) by Badger Land
3 – Ice Axe (SAF), 58.0, b g 3, Solskjaer (IRE) – Nordic Air (SAF) by Northern Guest
*Sage Throne finished first, but was placed second on objection
Margins: ¾, ½, 1¼
Also ran: Abington (SAF) 58.0, Mystic Moon (SAF) 58.0, Magnanimous (SAF) 58.0, A King Is Born (SAF) 58.0, Solera (SAF) 58.0, Roman Wall (SAF) 58.0
Gold Circle Oaks (SAf-G2) (6/26)
Clairwood, South Africa, June 26, R200.000, 2400m, turf, good, 2.34.61 (CR 2.27.30).
1 – PRINCESS OF LIGHT (SAF), 58.0, b f 3, Var – Star Of Arcole (SAF) by Foveros (GB). Owner Mrs A Devachander and Mr L M F Wernars; breeder Mrs & Mrs C F de Vos (SAF); trainer GV Woodruff; jockey A Marcus (R132.609)
2 – Las Ramblas (SAF), 58.0, b f 3, Toreador (IRE) – Silent Kiss (NZ) by Maroof
3 – White Mischief (SAF), 58.0, ch f 3, Jet Master (SAF) – Mostly Mischief (SAF) by Elliodor (FR)
Margins: 1¼, 3¾, 3¼
Also ran: Margaret Court (SAF) 58.0, Midnight Dazzler (SAF) 58.0, Isle Of Dogs (SAF) 58.0, Ilha Grande (SAF) 58.0, Bella Nero (SAF) 58.0, Chablis (SAF) 58.0, Victory Garden (SAF) 58.0

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