Gr3 East Cape Derby at Arlington
The East Cape Derby has been Arlington’s premier event for decades, but with the suburban course likely to be disappear into the history books before long the 2011 edition of the race may very well have been the last to be staged at its traditional venue. For sure, the most recent Derby will be remembered for producing arguably the most controversial finish in the race’s long and colourful history, with the result being decided after an objection whose outcome did not by any stretch of the imagination meet with universal agreement. It was an unfortunate farewell to the Derby before it shifts to Fairview, if that is indeed going to be the case next season, but for backers of the red-hot favourite Vengence everything turned out rosy when he was awarded the race at the expense of the original winner Lorenzo Marques.
One thing that almost everybody could agree on is that the 2011 Derby field was by no means the strongest ever assembled, with top rated Vengence racing off a mark of 89, but Joey Ramsden’s gelding did bring proven stamina to the party after winning over 2800m at Kenilworth earlier in the autumn. Vengence was heavily supported from an ante-post call of 22/10 to go off as the 7/10 favourite in a field of 15. Lorenzo Marques, who had not been tried over 2400m but who had given every indication that he was looking for a greater test of stamina, found plenty of support and went off at 33/10. You could have got 15/1 and better about any of the others come post time.
As has frequently been the case, the Derby was run at a rather muddled pace with the lead changing three times before half the distance had been covered. Masterpiece was an early leader before surrendering the advantage to his stable companion Catview approaching the 1600m, but West Island went past them all in the back stretch to pick it up. Vengence was very nicely poised within some three or four lengths of the leader, with Lorenzo Marques a couple of lengths behind him the whole way round. Exultation was also not far away as West Island led them into the straight.
It wasn’t long before the fun and games began. Vengence was perfectly placed to take over from his stable companion West Island, but Lorenzo Marques began to make good progress and readily overhauled Vengence to take over coming inside the last 300m. Lorenzo Marques soon shifted inwards, forcing Vengence to ease and switch to his outside. In itself this probably didn’t make a whole lot of difference to anybody, but the you-know-what really hit the fan when Lorenzo Marques allegedly shied sharply left from the shadow cast by an infield photographer around 100m from home, once again crossing Vengence’s bows and forcing the favourite to ease and briefly lose momentum. In the end Lorenzo Marques crossed the line a length ahead of Vengence, with Zezinho Campeao running on stoutly to be only half-a-length further back in third. Zezinho Campeao’s stable companion Desert Rat was another 1.25 lengths away in fourth. Exultation also met with some traffic problems and may have been a bit unlucky not to finish closer than sixth.
It wasn’t long before Vengence’s jockey Glen Hatt (who had barely arrived on course in time for the big race after his flight from Cape Town was delayed) lodged an objection against Lorenzo Marques. The fact that Vengence had been impeded twice by the winner was the one thing that seemingly could have doomed Lorenzo Marques, who appeared to win the race very cosily. Individually, the two instances of interference would not have affected the result, but the combined effect of the two perhaps swayed the Board to uphold the objection and award Vengence first place.
It would take a brave man to say with any conviction that Vengence would have won the race had he not been hampered, for Lorenzo Marques quickened past him well early in the straight and didn’t need to be driven flat out by Bernard Fayd’herbe to secure the “win” over the final stages. On the other hand, had the objection been overruled one might be left to ask just how many times a horse can impede another and get away with it. Lorenzo Marques was almost certainly the best horse on the day, and if nothing else he made the improvement expected in his first try at 2400m. He does unfortunately have a history of ducking from shadows, having cost himself a win at Kenilworth earlier in his career when veering sharply left in the closing stages of a race which he had at his mercy. That was in a maiden plate, though, and he soon made amends when winning a similar event next time out. The Derby is a one-off race in a horse’s career, and Lorenzo Marques’ knack of running away from shadows cost him very dearly. He nevertheless looks to be a stayer of some promise and Justin Snaith’s gelding could yet go on to win some decent races.
Vengence is himself a useful long distance performer, but strictly on paper he ran some way below his 89 mark although he beat a couple of improving rivals who more probably performed well above their own merit ratings. Sired north of the line, Vengence is a gelded son of dual European Gr 1 winner Black Sam Bellamy, a full brother to Galileo who stands in Germany. Vengence is the third foal of Rainbow Quest mare Vijanti, who won three races in France and who is the dam of one known previous winner in Germany. Vengence’s second dam Kundalini raced for Dr Hilda Podlas in South Africa, winning the Gr 1 Bloodline Classic and being named this country’s champuion three-year-old filly of 1993. Bred by Maine Chance Farms, Vengence was a R350 000 buy from the 2009 Ready To Run Sale in Gauteng. He has won four times from eight starts, earning R339 110 for owners Ingrid and Markus Jooste. – by Matthew Lips
E-Cape Derby (SAf-G3) (5/15) Arlington, South Africa, May 15, R350.000, 2400m, turf, good, 2.33.15 (CR 2.27.50). 1 – VENGENCE (SAF), 58.0, ch g 3, Black Sam Bellamy (IRE) – Vijanti (GB) by Rainbow Quest. Owner Mrs I Jooste and Mr M J Jooste; breeder Maine Chance Farms (SAF); trainer J Ramsden; jockey G Hatt (218.750) 2 – Lorenzo Marques (SAF), 58.0, b g 3, Silvano (GER) – Victoria Bay (SAF) by Coastal 3 – Zezinho Campeao (BRZ), 58.0, b c 3, Hard Buck (BRZ) – La Mari (BRZ) by New Colony Margins: 1, ½, 1¼ Also ran: Desert Rat (SAF) 58.0, Ecclesiastic (ARG) 58.0, Exultation (SAF) 58.0, Golden Ruse (SAF) 58.0, West Island (SAF) 58.0, Odyssey Of Light (SAF) 58.0, Masterpiece (SAF) 58.0, Lockheed (SAF) 58.0, Eton Mess (SAF) 58.0, Campo De Santana (SAF) 58.0, Dancinginthedesert (SAF) 58.0, Catview (SAF) 58.0