The formless 7yo Badger’s Drift mare National Forest poached a winning lead and went all the way to win the R100 000 Wedgewood Handicap run over the turf 2400m at Fairview on Friday. The win for Hekkie Strydom ‘s Cheveley Stud-bred mare capped a forgettable afternoon for punters.
Winless since May 2014, National Forest was in a galloping mood and with a handy cruising weight of 52kgs was astutely ridden by a determined looking jockey JP van der Merwe, who never stopped riding her hard all the way to the line in the non black-type topliner.
Van der Merwe left it until the final stride to catch a sideways glance to determine any threats – but there were none and the 20 to 1 shot was 4,50 lengths clear another outsider Varster, from the Mitch Wiese yard, who was ridden by replacement jock Eldin Webber, and battled gamely, without luck, to get within striking distance of the winner.
The favourite Rare Stone was one of those who struggled o come to terms with the nifty pace up the home straight and only got into the action late to save a few PA tickets, with a modest third cheque, ahead of Starlight Beauty.
The 5 to 2 chance Strong Scent was a disappointment and never featured, running 11,85 lengths off the action.
National Forest, who won in a time of 142,02 secs, was recording a rather well-deserved feature victory – but consistency is not her middle name, and the form of this race may need to be digested with some caution.
Bred by Cheveley Stud, she is by Badger’s Drift out of the Australian-bred Spinning World mare, Carouse.
Signed for at R15 000 by John Freeman at the 2010 Cape Summer Yearling Sale, National Forest has won 7 races with 8 places from 47 starts and R326 387 in stakes.
She is all heart and certainly a versatile galloper, when things go her way– having won won from 1200m to 2400m.
Only one favourite in Fort Ozark obliged on a tough day – he was the first leg of a Greg Cheyne-Alan Greeff double, while trainer Yvette Bremner maintained her form with a double.