Thunderstruck – Thunder Dance

Gr1 TBA Paddock Stakes – Kenilworth last Saturday

Thunder Dance

The three-year-old crop of both genders looks to be rock solid this season and both of the Gr1 events at Kenilworth on Saturday were won by members of the 2008 foal crop. A couple of hours before Gimmethegreenlight and Variety Club dominated the finish to the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate, the splendidly bred Thunder Dance did her bit to uphold her generation’s honour when winning the Thoroughbred Breeders Association Paddock Stakes over 1800m, writes MATTHEW LIPS.

Only six were left to contest this much cherished WFA event for fillies and mares after the shock scratching of Igugu earlier in the week, and there probably would have been a few others who would have taken their chances if connections had known that Igugu would be absent.  Beach Beauty went off as the 17/20 favourite of the half dozen that remained, with 2011 Paddock Stakes winner Emerald Cove the second favourite at 28/10 and Thunder Dance the 9/2 third choice of punters.

To describe the early pace as slow would be a little like saying that Moscow is a bit chilly in midwinter. Indeed, they were proceeding at not much more than a steady walk in the early part of the race, with Beach Beauty pulling her way to the front and showing the way to Thunder Dance, Emerald Cove, and We Three. Super Elegant and Hollywoodboulevard dropped in at the rear, with plenty of time for a cup of tea and some gossip as the six runner party seemed to forget it was racing for a million Rand pot.

The order remained unchanged for most of the distance, with the race developing into a sprint down the straight as Beach Beauty tried her utmost to keep all challengers at bay. Emerald Cove failed to find a great deal from 200m out, but her stable companion We Three was running on steadily down the far side as Thunder Dance gradually edged closer to the frontrunning favourite. Beach Beauty was very game, especially considering the way she had pulled her rider along in the early part of the race, but the year-younger Thunder Dance wore her down over the final 100m to win by half-a-length under a jubilant Karis Teetan. We Three was only about a neck further behind Beach Beauty in third, with 1.25 lengths back to fourth placed Super Elegant, who looks almost absurdly flattered by a 104 merit rating, only one pound below Princess Victoria’s mark, for pity’s sakes. Super Elegant basically ran right up to the form of her previous encounters with Thunder Dance despite coming here rated seven pounds superior to her fellow three-year-old. We accept that handicapping isn’t easy, but this looks more than a trifle silly.

Thunder Dance could be in line for a third encounter with Princess Victoria in the Gr1 Majorca Stakes over 1600m on January 28th, and there would be no obvious reason to suppose she can reverse two recent defeats at the hands of that ace filly, but she is a highly talented sort in her own right and her best days could still be ahead of her. “In six months time we will see a bigger and stronger filly,” said Thunder Dance’s trainer Brett Crawford afterwards. Whatever the future may bring, this first Stakes success (and in a Gr1, no less) does wonders for the winner’s future broodmare prospects. The first Gr1 winner for Jet Master after the multiple champion sire’s death last November, Thunder Dance is the third foal and second winner of Fort Wood mare Shadow Dancing, who won four races over 1200/1600m during a relatively brief career. Those wins included the Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas and the Gr1 Majorca Stakes, and Shadow Dancing is a half sister to Gr1 winner and leading sire Captain Al, so Thunder Dance has a ton of pedigree to go with her new found status as a Black Type winner.

Bred by Klawervlei Stud and co-owned by them in partnership with Ian Longmore, Thunder Dance has won four times from seven starts for stakes of R823 229. More good news for the Klawervlei team is that a half brother by Western Winter to Thunder Dance comes up on auction on day two of the Cape Premier Yearling Sale later in January.

TBA Paddock S. (SAf-G1) (1/7)
Kenilworth, South Africa, January 7, R1 million, 1800m, turf, good,  1.57.74 (CR 1.48.98).
THUNDER DANCE (SAF), 54.0, b f 3, Jet Master (SAF) – Shadow Dancing (SAF) by Fort Wood. Owner Klawervlei Stud & I W Longmore; breeder Klawervlei Stud (SAF); trainer B J Crawford; jockey K Teetan (R625.000)
Beach Beauty (SAF), 59.5, b f 4, Dynasty (SAF) – Sun Coast (SAF) by Capture Him
We Three, 60.0, b m, Silvano (GER) – Five Star Suite (SAF) by Badger Land
Margins: ½, nk, 1¼
Also ran: We Three (SAF) 60.0, Super Elegant (SAF) 54.0, Emerald Cove (SAF) 59.5, Hollywoodboulevard (AUS) 59.5

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