Gavin Smith and Vangelis (Gavin Smith Racing Stables)
There was no big racing in South Africa this past weekend, so we had to settle for a somewhat mundane programme. These are the days though when you look for potential, and you search among the emerging ranks for that little flicker that sets your flames alight. It’s not without bias that we watch our Summerhill runners for these signs of developing greatness and we thought we saw glimpses of a couple of “big things” in the making on Friday and Saturday.
We’ve written before about horses we were left with, and we’re not speaking here of Imbongi alone, but of Vangelis, a big strong son of Kahal out of the Group placed mare, Northern Singer, whose greatest day came when she finished second behind no less a Champion than Époque in what was then known as the J.B. MacIntosh Fillies Classic (now known the Golden SlipperGr.1 ).
Vangelis was labeled a Derby winner the day he was born by our foal foreman, T.K.Nkabinde, yet he was prevented from expressing his talents at two and three by intervening injuries. In the end, we sent him to Port Elizabeth where he was likely to find more constant going, and on Friday he galloped away from a not uncompetitive field in the manner of a really good horse. In his trainer Gavin Smith’s own words, this could be “a proper Stakes horse in the making”, and we hope he’s right.
The Kahal/Northern Guest cross has been one of our most lethal cocktails in recent years, and has spawned the likes of Emperor Napoleon, Bold Ellinore, Evening Attire, Bhekinkhosi etc and now Vangelis. We only needed to wait one more day to see the manifestation of the success of the cross again, when Tap Tap ran away in the dams “top biller” in Johannesburg, which not only included the highly regarded Geoff Woodruff trained import, Aluminum, but also the recent S.A Oaks winner, Urabamba.
Turning for home second last in this competitive line-up, Tap Tap went to the front under a hands and heels ride and strode away in majestic style eliciting from his jockey in the post-race interview that this was a big race winner-in-waiting. His dam, Derniere Danse, yet another daughter of Northern Guest out of the Stakes winning mare, Dancer’s Choice, she a daughter of the imported Rhapsody’s Footstep, a winner of nine races for Denham Rodwell and Ricky Maingard in the days or yore.
Tap Tap was bred at Summerhill in a partnership comprising our old mate, Barry Clements of Perth, and our American based pal, Robert Lynch who recently acquired an interest in a Swettenam-bred daughter of Europe’s current leading stallion, Galileo, as a replacement for the unfortunately deceased Derniere Danse.