Woolavington in Igugu’s stride

Gr1 Woolavington 2000 at Greyville last Saturday

It's the 4th Gr1 win for the 3yo Galileo filly Igugu.

Igugu turned her first KZN appearance into another display of sheer dominance when she floored seven other three-year-old fillies in the Woolavington 2000 at Greyville on Saturday.  Not every spectator was overwhelmed by her performance, though, and many punters will continue to look elsewhere for the likely Vodacom Durban July winner.

Igugu arrived in Durban fresh from her historic clean sweep of the Triple Tiara in Gauteng, but her opening price of 1/7 enticed nobody and she eventually started at a more generous 1-to-4 as stable companion Berry Blaze attracted plenty of support to go off as the 3/1 second favourite after being available at 5’s in the ante-post market.  The remaining six were all sent off at double and even triple figure prices.

With no other obvious frontrunner in the line-up, it was wholly predictable that Igugu would probably revert to making the running herself, as she had done when she won the Gr 1 SA Fillies Classic in March.  She was allowed to set a very sedate tempo ahead of White Mischief and Las Ramblas, with Emerald Cove, Barberton Daisy and Berry Blaze further back.  Igugu needed to be briefly shaken up once or twice in the straight to keep her mind on the job, but she never looked in any danger of defeat and in the end won by a very tidy 2.75 lengths.  Emerald Cove stayed on to finish second, with Berry Blaze 1.5 lengths further away in third and Barberton Daisy in turn another half-a-length adrift in fourth.  Las Ramblas finished fifth, only weakening in the final stages, but both she and Berry Blaze finished many lengths closer to Igugu than when they were respectively second and third in the SA Fillies Classic.

That in itself proves nothing.  The Fillies Classic was run in very wet ground on the testing Turffontein standside course and an equally strung-out finish in good going on a sharper track like Greyville was always going to be highly improbable.  Nor can we read much into the fact that Igugu’s time for the Woolavington was fully 1.4 seconds slower than The Apache’s in the ensuing Daily News 2000.  This only proves that the Woolavington was run at a slow early pace, and that cannot by itself detract from how good Igugu is.  It is not her fault that none of her rivals wanted to get a move on, but the Woolavington taught us absolutely nothing new about Igugu except that she will at least go into the July with winning form around Greyville to her name.

It is true that Igugu has effectively beaten the same calibre of opposition over and over again, and aside from the highly restricted Ready To Run Cup (where she as beaten by another filly in Hollywoodboulevard) she has never contested a race against male rivals.  Before Saturday she was rated two pounds inferior to the highest rated three-year-old male in training, Run For It, but there is really no way to draw a line of collateral form between Igugu and the boys.  Her trainer Mike de Kock sounded a warning when he noted after the Woolavington that, “she will get better than this, she was a little bit short of her best.”  He added that Igugu had been quieter than usual in the preliminaries, but some critics may take the opposite view and suggest that she might be going over the top after a busy 2011 campaign.  Nobody doubts the genius of De Kock, but many are willing to gamble that the July will be a bridge too far (and maybe even one race too many) for Igugu.    On the other hand, a horse can only beat what’s there to be beaten and Igugu keeps doing so with a minimum of fuss.

“I most probably will never ride a filly as good as this again in my career,” remarked an exuberant Anthony Delpech.  This heat-of-the-moment stuff is always best approached with some degree of scepticism and it will take a clash with top class rivals of both genders and all ages to finally answer the question of how good Igugu really is.  One plus insofar as the July is concerned is that she can race from or near the front, possibly avoiding any traffic jams that may arise further down the field, and in a July where many of the other likely candidates are hold-up horses that could just make all the difference.

Igugu is an Australian-bred daughter of world leading sire Galileo out of the unraced Intikhab mare Zarinia.  Acquired for R1 million at the 2009 Ready To Run Sale in Gauteng, Igugu races for the partnership of Andre MacDonald and Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum.  She has won seven times from only nine starts and (without considering the R1m Triple Tiara bonus) she has earned R2 361 875 in stakes.

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Woolavington 2000 (SAf-G1) (6/4)
Greyville, South Africa, June 4, R500.000, 2000m, turf, good, 2.022.62 (CR 1.59.60).
IGUGU (AUS), 58.0, b f 3, Galileo (IRE) – Zarinia (IRE) by Intikhab. Owner Sheilh Mohammed bin Kalifa al Maktoum and A J MacDonald; breeder Kia Ora Stud (AUS); trainer M F de Kock; jockey A Delpech (R331.522)
Emerald Cove (SAF), 58.0, b f 3, Captain Al (SAF) – Resolution Bay (SAF) by Caesour
Berry Blaze (IRE), 58.0, b f 3, Danehill Dancer (IRE) – Strawberry Roan (IRE) by Sadler’s Wells
Margins: 2¾, 1½, ½
Also ran: Barberton Daisy (SAF) 58.0, Las Ramblas (SAF) 58.0, White Mischief (SAF) 58.0, Six Blue Notes (SAF) 58.0, Cherry On The Cake (SAF) 58.0

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