We may’ve come away from the Gomma Gomma Challenge meeting empty handed in terms of winners, but we weren’t short of highlights elsewhere. Following on Imbongi’s historic second Guineas victory at Greyville the previous Saturday, and the amazing Hear The Drums in the Arlington Flying Five the same weekend, we thought we were in for a quiet week. Nothing of the sort, she cried, as Thekkady came out on Wednesday to scoop the prize in the Strelitzia Stakes (Gr.3) for Michael Azzie. Just last November, she graduated from the Ready To Run as a R240 000 purchase, and she’s not only taken the Strelitzia, but she’s also more than doubled her own value and added considerably to that of her family.
The same day, Muhtafal’s explosive little daughter, Prize Flower, put in a remarkable effort, from behind (it’s become her signature,) mowing down a quality field. It can’t be long before this one earns her Black type, something that will please our regular correspondent, Judge Magid, no end, as he bred her at the farm.
The following day at the Vaal, we saw “daylight” victories for a trio of talented individuals. Phunyuka got things off to an excellent start for Wally Brits and Roy Magner, galloping away for his first career win after promising so much with a close up fifth in the R500 000 Emperor’s Palace Ready To Run Stakes in November. This was his first racecourse appearance since, and having run so close in a feature event behind Umngazi and Imbongi, he looks a likely Feature race type in the making.
He was followed by a spectacular win from Bhenkinkhosi’s brother, Emir (by Kahal) for the Devanchanders and Gary Alexander, and we only had to wait one more race to see Fox Hunt make it a double within six days for Robin Bruss and Michael Azzie. Fox Hunt could be on his way to Saudi Arabia (for a lot of money, would be our guess) as he’s making into one of the better sand performers in the land.
Ecole Militaire’s victory on Friday prompted some speculation among his owners that he might even be more effective at a mile than the previous week’s East Cape Guineas winner, Paris Perfect (by Muhtafal), (also raised here) while Ebony Girl (by Kahal) couldn’t have been more impressive, leaving the colts out of sight on the same card.
In the marsh-like conditions at the Gomma Gomma, the penotrometer measured 26 before the off and following torrential rain, it must’ve been well into the 30’s by the time the big Features got under way. In the conditions, juvenile Mpumelelo was brave in making the frame in the Gr.2 S.A. Nursery, while Catmandu probably ran the race of his life (if not producing the best run of the whole race,) coming from last to be shaded just a head out of second place. Assuming they’re not too tough with their penalties in the conditions, he looms as a serious “July” prospect, and Andre Kirsten, who bought this one for a mere R80 000 at the 2005 Ready To Run, must be rubbing his hands at the thought.
On Sunday, Hear The Drums doubled up within a week, finally putting to bed the question of the Sprint Championship for the Eastern Cape, when at level weights, he ran What A Jet ragged by an increasing three lengths. On the same card, in a Summerhill ding-dong; Golden Occasion got up to shade Vangelis in the last stride of their Graduation Plate.
A big weekend for Summerhill in which nine winners earned almost three quarters of a million Rand, the best advert for investing at the Ready To Run, if ever one was needed.