Mythical Flight’s phenomenal victory in last Saturday’s Computaform Sprint (Gr 1) was not only his seventh in row, but was achieved in,02 seconds short of the world mark for the distance. This is some racehorse by any standards, and its encouraging to learn that his connections are contemplating an international career for him, which should culminate in his participation in this year’s Prix de l’ Abbaye de Longchamp on “Arc” day, on the first Sunday in October. He is a credit to his owner, the genial Chris van Niekerk, and his trainer, Sean Tarry, who are also associated with last year’s joint Horse of the Year, National Colour.
The comfort doesn’t only extend from the fact that he will make a model representative of what South Africa is capable of producing in the way of world class racehorses, but equally from the perspective that he will no longer be here to compete with our own Rebel King, who tried his heart out on Saturday but had to content himself with second in the circumstances. That said, Rebel King himself eclipsed the existing African record in the process, and which until last weekend, rested in the hands of Cataloochee, resident as we all know at Summerhill, where he covered his first book of mares last season.
As it turns out, both Charles Laird his trainer, and Anton Marcus his jockey, were concerned about the fact that Rebel King was short of one gallop in his preparation, and was campaigning over the “tight five” of the Turffontein course, which at this time of the year rides particularly fast. Charles has always been of the view that this horse is better over six furlongs (or 1200 m, we should say) and taking on a horse of the world class calibre of Mythical Flight in these circumstances was always going to be difficult.
In the event, Rebel King put up a magnificent show, moving up to challenge the winner with 350 metres to go, and then as a result of an electrifying burst of speed on Mythical Flight’s part and his own lack of condition, he eased down to be beaten just over two lengths. Speaking with Anton Marcus after the race, he seemed to think that, bearing in mind Rebel King was likely to incur another penalty as a result of his second place, he might be better off avoiding the welter impost he would be burdened with in the Golden Spur (Gr 1) (run during the Festival of Speed at Scottsville on the last Saturday of May) and simply rerouting to the Natal Mercury Sprint (Gr 1). He does have his problems and his races are accordingly spaced, and while all at Summerhill are keen to see him take on Mythical Flight over 1200 m with a slight weight advantage before the latter’s departure for Europe, the jockey’s view might prevail, and that might be the best course of action in the end.