Var’s Day

Gr3 Strelitzia Stakes - Valdivia; Gr3 Godolphin Barb Stakes - Twitter

A pair of Gr3 events for two-year-olds over 1000m headed up Clairwood’s Sunday card and both races were won by visiting Cape trainer Vaughan Marshall with the progeny of Var, writes MATTHEW LIPS.

Gr3 Strelitzia Stakes – Valdivia

Valdivia - unbeaten 2/2

The Strelitzia Stakes for fillies went the way of Valdivia, who’d run out the six lengths winner of her only previous start at Kenilworth in February. She was all the rage here and went off as the 1/5 favourite in a field of seven, with fellow Cape Town raider Coniston Gold the 6/1 second choice and chief KZN hope Fun Sunzi starting as the 7/1 third favourite.

The race virtually beggars description. Valdivia shot into an immediate lead, and was never threatened. She showed the way from Coniston Gold and Nips Nugget, with Fun Sunzi just in behind that, but nothing could live with the favourite who stormed to a 5.5 lengths victory under Anton Marcus. Coniston Gold came out readily second best and in turn finished 1.5 lengths in front of third placed Fun Sunzi, with Spanish Victory another 1.5 lengths adrift in fourth.
Valdivia was receiving 2 kgs from both the second and third horses, but she was plainly in a different division to this bunch and she was still very much full of running at the death. She gave the impression that she will cope alright with 1200m, and is no doubt being prepared for a tilt at the Gr1 Allan Robertson Championship over that distance at Scottsville in late May.

Valdivia is the tenth foal, fifth winner, and first Stakes winner produced from the USA-bred Irish River mare River Divine, who was never placed during her own track career but who is the half sister to a dual Listed winner in France. Valdivia’s third dam Gurkhas Band won no less than 22 races in North America, including a trio of Gr3 contests. Valdivia was bred at Avontuur Thoroughbred Farm, where her sire Var stands, and was bought for R100 000 at the 2011 National Yearling Sale. Her two wins from two starts have collected stakes of R139 130 for owner Bruce Lin.


Gr3 Godolphin Barb Stakes – Twitter

Twitter - very good pace

The juvenile males had their turn in the Godolphin Barb Stakes thirty-five minutes after the fillies’ equivalent and it was Twitter who completed the double for his trainer and his sire when beating six rivals to land the honours. The form of the Kenilworth 1000m maiden race which Twitter won second time out in February has worked out very nicely, but he was allowed to start as the 28/10 second favourite for the Godolphin Barb. Heading the market at 18/10 was Indaba My Children, who’d beat a next-start winner by a very comfortable 2.75 lengths on his only previous appearance at Greyville in February. The very consistent My Jelly Bean was the 3/1 third choice of punters, with Potent Power (5/1) finding his followers as well.

King’s Jet was the early leader and set a brisk pace just ahead of Potent Power, with Twitter and Indaba My Children further back, but the leading pair were both running out of puff more than 200m from home. Twitter was in the perfect position to strike and led past the furlong pole, running on strongly under Sean Cormack to win by 1.75 lengths from Indaba My Children. The latter had every chance and simply couldn’t match the winner for pace, but the beaten favourite is expected to improve when he goes beyond 1000m. My Jelly Bean was only a head behind Indaba My Childen in third, with Alqaffay staying on from the tail of the field to finish a further two lengths adrift in fourth.

Interestingly, Twitter’s time for the 1000m was almost exactly one full second slower than Valdivia’s earlier in the day, which is more of a compliment to the latter than any kind of black mark against Twitter, and in any case Twitter also finished his race off as if he would be suited to an extra 200m. Whether Twitter is up to Gr1 class remains debatable, and the horse that finished a neck second behind him in the maidens was beaten in a Port Elizabeth Listed race on Good Friday, but Twitter looks progressive and gave the impression that he may go further than 1000m himself.

Twitter is the ninth foal and eighth winner produced from Confidential Talk mare Avian Talk, who won one race in her native Argentina and who is also the dam of Gr2 winner and Gr1 runner-up Some Talk in that country. Twitter’s second dam Avian Eden won only one race in the USA, but her progeny include Avanzado, who won one Gr1 and two Gr2 races in the USA, and Auguri, a Gr2 winner in Argentina.

Twitter, like Valdivia, was bred at Avontuur Thoroughbred Farm and was a R300 000 acquisition from the 2011 National Yearling Sale. He has won twice from three starts, earning stakes of R139 150 for owner Roy Eckstein.


Godolphin Barb S. (SAf-G3) (4/8)
Clairwood, South Africa, April 8, R150.000, 1000m, turf, good, 59.50 (CR 55.16).
TWITTER (SAF), 58.0, ch c 2, Var – Avian Talk (ARG) by Confidential Talk. Owner R S Eckstein; breeder Avontuur Farm (SAF); trainer V H Marshall; jockey S Cormack (R93.750)
Indaba My Children (AUS), 58.0, b c 2, Tale Of The Cat – Hampton Rover by Miswaki
My Jelly Bean (SAF), 58.0, b c 2, Announce (SAF) – Jelly Baby (SAF) by Jallad
Margins: 1¾, sh hd, 2
Also ran: Alqaffay (SAF) 58.0, Potent Power (SAF) 58.0, King’s Jet (SAF) 58.0, Bingelela (SAF) 56.0


Strelitzia S. (SAf-G3) (4/8)
Clairwood, South Africa, April 8, R150.000, 1000m, turf, good, 58.55 (CR 55.16).
VALDIVIA (SAF), 56.0, ch f 2, Var – River Divine by Irish River (FR). Owner T Y Lin; breeder Avontuur Farm (SAF); trainer V H Marshall; jockey A Marcus (R93.750)
Coniston Gold (SAF), 58.0, b f 2, Lake Coniston (IRE) – Raggedy Ann (SAF) by Fine Edge (GB)
Fun Sunzi (AUS), 58.0, b f 2, Oratorio (IRE) – Harem Queen (AUS) by Al Hareb
Margins: 5½, 1½, 1½
Also ran: Spanish Victory (SAF) 54.0, London Olympics (SAF) 54.0, Nips Nugget (SAF) 56.0, Weather Report (SAF) 54.0

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