The Gr2 Gauteng Guineas at Turffontein on Saturday saw Summerhill Ready To Run graduate Imbongi (Russian Revival) run on strongly to clinch the 1600m feature, leading home from Kilcoy Castle, Horatio and Rudra.
Piere Strydom caused something of a stir by taking favourite Eddington off to the front and bolting clear by about four lengths with Rudra and Juanfra trying to stay in touch. Hamlool and Imbongi were next best ahead of Carbon Leader and Ray Sauce. Kings Gambit, JJ The Jet Plane and Horatio were midfield as Aluminium gave some ten lengths’ start. Kingdom Come was unable to get over from his draw and raced well back on the outside of runners with Lubricator and Kilcoy Castle at the rear.
Eddington turned for home well clear but thoughts that he would have the chasing pack under pressure were soon dispelled as Rudra collared him and went into the lead. Imbongi moved up smartly to challenge and Kilcoy Castle, who had turned for home a long way out of his ground, was quickening up impressively up against the inside rail. Kings Gambit and Carbon Leader were also still in contention for the placings and Hortaio was starting to unwind down the outside.
It became a two-horse race inside the final 100m, but Imbongi was always going slightly the better and he responded well to Anthony Delpech’s driving to win by a half-length.
Punters can be forgiven for ignoring Imbongi as, although he had shown definite promise early on in his career, he had looked well held in both the Dingaans and Tony Ruffel Stakes and hence looked somewhat outclassed here. However, this looks a meritorious victory as this was a highly competitive field and it appears that we are only now seeing the best of him. It certainly was a triumphant homecoming for Anthony Delpech, making a rare visit to these parts and he gave Mike de Kock’s runner a perfect ride.
Kilcoy Castle ran a great race in defeat and looked much more like his old self, after two below par efforts. He had it all to do from draw 16, was slowly away and had a huge task ahead of him turning for home. In the circumstances, it was understandable that he just could not conjure up the extra required in the final stages, but he is now due for a win.
Horatio showed that his Tony Ruffel win was no fluke as he once again produced a strong late run to clinch third. It’s worth noting that he has been taking on tough opposition throughout his short career and he looks to have come on really well in the last month or two.
Rudra showed yet again that he is an underrated sort. He is probably better over a bit further and it was no surprise to see him outpaced late, but he stuck gamely to his task and he also looks to have a respectable future ahead of him.
Eddington was the obvious disappointment of the race, but this run looks best ignored as he seemed to go too fast, too hard early on. He must be given a chance to make amends and will have every chance of doing so if ridden with a bit more restraint next time out.
mbongi is a 3-year-old gelding by Russian Revival (USA) out of Garden Verse (SAF) by Foveros (GB). Bred by Summerhill Stud, he is owned by Messrs MD Fleischer, OV Leibbrandt, BS Clements RS & BA Napier & Summerhill Stud Syndicate (Nom: M J B Goss).
Winning trainer: Mike de Kock
Extract from SA Horseracing.com