Gr3 August Stakes – The Mouseketeer

The Mouseketeer - colt by KZN’s perennial leading sire Kahal

Sean Tarry is making a habit of saddling Graded Stakes “exactas.”  Less than a month after he sent out Aslan and Kolkata to occupy the first two places in the Gr 1 Canon Gold Cup, the Randjesfontein-based trainer was at it again when The Mouseketeer held off stable companion Across The Ice to win the August Stakes over 1200m on the Vaal sand last Saturday, writes MATTHEW LIPS.

The August Stakes is an integral part of the lead-up to the premier event on sand, the Gr 2 Emerald Cup over 1450m to be run on September 24th, and Saturday’s event featured two previous winners of that valuable prize in Phunyuka (2009) and Iron Curtain (2010).  Last year’s August Stakes winner Storm Crossing was also in the 12 strong line-up for this conditions race, but none of this trio were particularly fancied on more recent form and it was consistent Master Blaster who was supported from an opening call of 9/2 to start as the 7/2 favourite.  Secret Life went off as the 5/1 second choice ahead of former SA Derby winner Bouquet-Garni, who had beaten Master Blaster by almost six lengths when winning a pinnacle plate over 1450m on his first attempt on sand seventeen days earlier.  The Mouseketeer also had his supporters and started at 6/1 despite never having raced on sand.


The Mouseketeer may have lacked previous racing experience on this surface, but he took to the sand in grand style and virtually made every inch of the running.  He was quickly away and showed the way early at a good gallop from Master Blaster and Iron Curtain, with Prime Mover further back as Secret Life worked his way into fifth spot after a tardy start.  Fears that the drop back to 1200m would see 2009 SA Derby hero Bouquet-Garni run off his feet soon proved to be well founded when he was simply unable to match the tempo and it was very quickly plain that he was not going to make it two-from-two on sand.  Across The Ice was also well off the early speed as his stable companion continued blazing a trail up front.


Master Blaster began to pester The Mouseketeer for the lead a long way from home, but he was never quite able to get to grips with his younger rival and began to give up the chase coming past the 200m marker.  Prime Mover was chasing hard, as was Secret Life down the inside rail, but neither of them was really having a great effect on The Mouseketeer, and inside the last furlong only Across The Ice was able to mount a serious challenge to the frontrunner.  The gap was inexorably closing at the line as Across The Ice charged home wider out, but The Mouseketeer had enough of an advantage to hold his stable companion at bat with a neck to spare, in the process crediting his Mauritian-born apprentice rider Nooresh Juglall with a memorable – and thoroughly well earned – success.


This was certainly not the first time that the 20-year-old Juglall has impressed as a cool customer under pressure and he was completely unfazed as he shook off first Piere Strydom on Master Blaster and then Robbie Fradd on Across The Ice.  As the excellent Karis Teetan has also shown in recent times, there is no shortage of riding talent on the Indian Ocean island and both young jockeys promise to go a long way in this game.


Prime Mover finished a gallant third, 1.5 lengths behind the runner-up and a healthy 2.25 lengths clear of fourth finisher Secret Life, who was not disgraced under 60 kgs all things considered.  Master Blaster weakened to finish fifth, 4.25 lengths behind The Mouseketeer, with Iron Curtain and Phunyuka (who’d won this race two years earlier) respectively seventh and eighth.  Bouquet-Garni showed little aptitude for sprinting and will enjoy the step back up in distance if he tries his luck in the Emerald Cup, a race for which he was many pundits’ first selection to win after his impressive sand debut earlier in August.


The Mouseketeer was well weighted on his turf merit rating, but one never knows how horses will translate their grass form to the sand until they’ve tried it and there is a very good reason why they qualify for separate sand and turf marks after three starts on the former surface.  The Mouseketeer had no trouble making the switch and will more than likely now bid to emulate Phunyuka’s 2009 feat of winning both the August Stakes and the Emerald Cup.  Tarry’s four-year-old should have no trouble coping with the 250m longer distance on September 24th, having won two races over 1600m including the valuable KZN Breeders Stakes during his winter campaign in Durban.  Across The Ice was the easy winner of his most recent over 1400m on set ground at Greyville and should also be suited to the Emerald Cup course-and -distance, so their trainer would be well justified if he’s looking forward to the penultimate Saturday of September with considerable anticipation.


The Mouseketeer is a colt by KZN’s perennial leading sire Kahal  and is the fourth foal and second winner of Northern Guest mare Look Sharp, who won one race over 1000m and who is also the dam of Listed winner Lt Jerry Mouse.  Bred at Bush Hill Stud and acquired for R200 000 at the 2009 National Yearling Sale, he has won five times from 12 starts and earned R457 150 in stakes.

August S. (SAf-G3) (8/27)
Vaal, South Africa, August 27, R200.000, 1200m, sand, 1.11.89 (CR 1.11.15).
THE MOUSEKETEER (SAF), 52.5, b c 4, Kahal (GB) – Look Sharp (SAF) by Northern Guest. Owner F Diedrichsen and N Andrews; breeder Bush Hill Stud (SAF); trainer S G Tarry; jockey N Juglall (R125.000)
Across The Ice (SAF), 52.5, b g 5, Western Winter – Akinfeet (SAF) by Fort Wood
Prime Mover (SAF), 55.0, b g 5, Mogok – Take The Lead (SAF) by Al Mufti
Margins: neck, 1½, 2¼
Also ran: Secret Life (SAF) 60.0, Master Blaster (SAF) 57.5, Storm Crossing (SAF) 60.0, Iron Curtain (SAF) 60.0, Phunyuka (SAF) 57.5, Second World (SAF) 55.0, Exclaim’n’exclude (AUS) 57.5, Sayadaw (SAF) 60.0, Bouquet-Garni (SAF) 55.

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