Walls Of Stone

Gr1 Daily News 2000 at Greyville this Saturday

Jackson - Top-class three year old on track for July

Both logic and sentiment point to Jackson winning Saturday’s R1 million Gr1 Daily News 2000 at Greyville. The three year old shooting star has all the right signs in his favour as he steps up to face his biggest career test. One that he looks very likely to pass with distinction.

The Daily News has been won by some truly outstanding horses and looking back on the honour role of winners over the past fifteen years, it is worth noting that only the emerging current day stallion Dynasty and the ill-fated legend Big City Life have achieved the Daily News- July double in that time . While race conditions and scheduling may have evolved over time, that statistic in isolation probably does not augur well for Brett Crawford’s youngster as the current Vodacom Durban July favourite. But that’s not stopping us from seeing this Jackson story through to fruition.

While the handicapper has crunched the numbers and done the admin that indicates that Jackson is a justified first choice to record win number five, it is the soft sentimental issues that excites us at this juncture.

Softly Whispering

A R1 million National Two Year Old Sale graduate, owners Ian Longmore and Jack Mitchell will no doubt agree the price to be pocket money right now.

Jackson hails from Highlands Stud in the beautiful Robertson Valley of the Western Cape. He is by the one of the hottest local stallions, Dynasty, who also stands at Highlands. Dynasty won the Daily News –July double in 2003. Dynasty would also go on to eventually sire a winner of this race. That was in 2010 when Horse  Of The Year, Irish Flame, won the Daily News beating Bold Silvano . He would go on to win the Gold Circle Derby a month later. But Bold Silvano would gain revenge and turn the tables on him in the Soccer World Cup delayed Vodacom Durban July of that year.

Highlands was also the stomping ground of the now retired Blushing Groom stallion Jallad, who happens to be the most successful Daily News producer of the past fifteen years. He sired Free My Heart(1999), who campaigned in the famous brown and white of the late Highlands supremo Graham Beck. Jallad also sired another Kannemeyer-trained  horse in the ill-fated Rabiya(2005) and then another colt who once campaigned in the Fieldspring Racing silks, in the Snaith’s Russian Sage(2008). Dynasty is by Fort Wood, who also sired the 2006 winner and current Arc en Ciel stallion, Elusive Fort.  We could ramble on, but enough said.

Paper Tiger

Jackson has the form. The highest rated participant in this nine horse field, he is a winner of four of his six starts. He won the Gr1 Investec Cape Derby on Met Day in the most arrogant fashion, beating Variety Club by two lengths. Subsequent East Cape Derby winner Tribal Dance was a further 3,75 lengths away in third. The rest didn’t exist.

Jackson made his Champions Season debut after a break of just over three months and went down by 2,25 lengths to SA’s foremost miler, Variety Club. That wasn’t Jackson’s game. This is more his scene, and save for an unlikely lack of pace, it is difficult to see him being beaten.

The Varsfontein Stud-bred Royal Bencher is a top-class three year old and looks to be Jackson’s biggest likely party-crasher. He recorded a first Gr1 winner for his stallion Greys Inn, when dead-heating with Pomodoro in the SA Derby at Turffontein on Champions Day.

Greys Inn, unlike Jackson’s dad Dynasty the previous year, was only able to finish third in the Daily News of 2004. But he did go on to win the Vodacom Durban July of that year.


Pomodoro and Royal Bencher

The Royal Bencher-Pomodoro SA Derby dead-heat landed up in the boardroom and ended tamely with a rather contentious stalemate by the Stipendiary Stewards. That decision and the related statistics have been consigned to the record books and while the romantics may not agree, there is little doubt in our view that Royal Bencher should probably not have shared the winner’s cheque and the glory. He should have got the lot.

The gelding is something of a late maturer, and has won four of his nine outings.His improvement curve is confirmed by the fact that all of his wins were  achieved in his last five starts and he has been brought along in low-key fashion by the astute Alec Laird.

In a brave move that we don’t see too often, young jockey JP van der Merwe gets the ride ahead of Anton Marcus, who rides Whiteline Fever here for the Joostes. Royal Bencher could be admirably suited to the Greyville track and Karis Teetan and favourite Jackson will have to maintain a vigilant eye on the blue and yellow silks up the short home straight. After a perfect preparation and assuming he travels well, Royal Bencher must be considered a serious and dangerous contender.


Pomodoro - Classy sort could be a danger

Pomodoro ranks as the Tarry flagship in this event and this beautifully actioned Jet Master colt has won five of his nine starts with his SA Derby and Tony Ruffel Stakes wins standing out as his best performances. That is in spite of the fact that we feel that he was lucky to share the Derby spoils with Royal Bencher after a spat in the final 200m of that Gr1 race.

He impressed when just failing to collar the Van Zyl’s highly-rated Slumdogmillionaire in the SA Classic and with the value –added services of Piere Strydom on Saturday, he should be amongst the top three.

Anton Marcus rides Tarry’s second stringer Whiteline Fever, who wasn’t up to the challenge in the Guateng Guineas and the SA Classic. He did however run two fair seconds in the Graham Beck Stakes and the Dingaans to two longshot winners in Astro News and Silver Fyer respectively. Neither have won since.

Trainer Greg Ennion would have been orbiting the moon after Master Plan’s excellent second to Beach Beauty in the Betting World 1900 last Tuesday night. The Jet Master gelding was giving the Drier filly 6,5kgs there and as one of only two three year olds in the race, carried a handy galloping bottom-weight of 52kgs. But it was nevertheless a solid effort against the older horses after his 2,65 length fourth to Variety Club in the Winter Guineas last month. Ennion will be keen to have his faith vindicated in the ability of Fred Crabbia’s horse, and it will be interesting to see how he goes at his first attempt at 2000m.His six-time winning dam won up to 1700m and he should stay the trip.

Drinks All Round

Zambucca - relishing the test of stamina

Saeed Mohideen lines up the Derby Trial winner Zambucca, who subsequently ran a forward race when finishing fourth to dead-heaters Royal Bencher and Pomodoro in the Gr1 SA Derby. This Ambiance Stud bred son of Lundy’s Liability does not strike one as a likely winner here, and did not come away smelling of roses at his only start in KZN in the Gatecrasher Stakes as a two year. But he is undoubtedly maturing and developing and relishing the test of stamina, and he could be good value for a place bet.

Mike De Kock sends out the three-time winning Argentinian- bred Vettel, who ran a terrific race last time out to win the Highland Night Cup over 2500mat Clairwood. He hit the front 500m from home there and stayed on doggedly to win a good race. He won a very impressive race over 2600m at Turffontein earlier and gives the impression of being a stout staying sort who may just be a little uncomfortable over this trip at this level.

Gavin Van Zyl knows what it takes to win this race as he trained last year’s Daily News winner  The Apache, who has since moved on to an international career with Mike De Kock. He must rate the Solskjaer gelding Shogunnar quite highly to let him take his chances here, and as a lightly raced untested sort he is difficult to assess.

He has won once from his three career starts, and last time ran on quite stoutly for fourth behind Vettel in the Highland Night Cup. Strictly speaking, that was at level weights and Vettel should have his measure again, even though that it was a very different race and  over  500m further than they run on Saturday.

Karl Neisius rides the third of the Tarry trio in the King Of Kings colt Baracah, who has repeatedly failed to assert himself at feature and classic level in Gauteng. He looks a likely pacemaker and has no realistic chance of winning.


All said and done, it is hardly rocket science to conclude that Greyville will be rocking to the Jackson five at around 5pm on Saturday. A thriller for racing fans and music to Brett Crawford’s ears as his Vodacom Durban July dream is a step closer to realisation.

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