Marsh Shirtliff and Team (AP Photo / Wong Maye-E)
There were two issues surrounding Jay Peg’s performance in the $ 3 million Singapore Airlines Cup (Gr.1) on Sunday. The first concerned the merit of his win in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (Gr.1) at the World Cup meeting in March, and whether or not that was something of a fluke. And the second involved the question of his “nationality” going into Sunday’s big event.
As far as the first question is concerned, his convincing 2.5 length victory on Sunday left his doubters in no doubt at all about his merit, particularly as the field included one that had run second to Archipenko in last month’s Queen Elizabeth Cup (Gr.1) in Hong Kong, as well as at least one quality Australian performer with Group One form.
In a race in which the pace was on at one helluva lick from the off, Jay Peg stalked the leader at a distance of some six lengths, and then, about 600 m about home, Anton Marcus let the reins out a notch, and whoosh! he was away. The harder they came from behind, the harder Jay Peg went, and he hit the line at a growing distance of more than two lengths, much to the joy of a not insignificant contingent of South African connections.
We mention his South African connections because there was some consternation before the race at a suggestion that he be entered as a representative of the United Arab Emirates, where he has been based since his departure from South Africa. Of course, he is South African-bred, South African owned, South African-trained, and he was South African mounted on Sunday, and there was nothing other than his preparation to suggest that he belonged anywhere else, so it was with some relief that racing fans in this country found they had a live candidate in the race.
The ecstasy in the grandstands was palpable, as Marsh Shirtliff, Etienne Braun, Paul Loomes and Selwyn Marcus embraced each other in a rare display of unbridled emotion, while one had to acknowledge the professionals involved in this horse’s career to date. It was an all-Marcus affair, with brother Basil Marcus having selected the horse as a yearling and trained him while he was involved in the domestic programme at home, brother Anton Marcus was abroad and brother Selwyn Marcus was among the owners. In sending the horse to Herman Brown Jnr for his Dubai and Singapore campaigns, the Marcus family were acknowledging a decades-long relationship between them and the Browns, when young Basil, (as he was then), was stable jockey to Herman Brown Snr in one of the most successful partnerships in racing history.
The son of Camden Park was bred and raised at Ken Truter and David Hepburn-Brown’s High Season Stud near Hermanus, and was a R140 000 yearling of his year, a far cry from the well over R40 million he has since earned at the races.