Battlestar Express with Karen Anthony and Weichong Marwing
The arrival of new life on Summerhill has heralded the start of a new racing season and our runners on Canon Gold Cup day, yesterday at Greyville, chalked up a tally of impressive performances.
Megan Romeyn writes that the diminutive Battlestar Express was first up in the Umngeni Handicap (L) over 1000m. This talented son of Summerhill super sire, Muhtafal won a fast paced race, adding one more to his growing list of victories. Jumping well he kept a good pace with the rest of the field before being guided up a notch by the highly skilled Weichong Marwing, kicking for home with 200m to go and winning by half a length from the fast finishing King James.
However, the excitement of the Battlestar Express win was somewhat eclipsed when Desert Links, the five year old gelding by Summerhill sire, Kahal, out of Selborne Park, stepped up to the plate in the feature race, the R1.2 million Canon Gold Cup (Gr.1) run over 3200m.
Ridden by jockey Greg Cheyne, who is hinting at the best season of his career, Desert Links was kept comfortably off the pace in 8th position, seemingly content to roll along, advancing steadily. At the 400m mark, Greg Cheyne asked the big question, only to be answered with a phenomenal turn of acceleration, with Desert Links snatching the lead from Prince Asad. Showing remarkable staying power Desert Links fended off a fighting Membrado, a scrambling Omaha Beach and a chase of three horses including Equal Image, Magical Ballad and Ser De Carrera, to win by almost a length.
An elated Basil Marcus, who trained Desert Links to perfection, was on hand with owners Etienne Braun and Paul Loomes to share in the celebrations. Basil also paid tribute to his brother Selwyn Marcus who has a share in Desert Links along with Eban Bouwer, both of whom were not present to enjoy the trackside jubilation. Basil Marcus has always thought very highly of Desert Links and couldn’t have put it better when he said “He’s a really decent horse and I was very confident. Last season in KwaZulu Natal he raced four times, won three and was second in the Derby. He’s a super horse”.
As if the day’s racing couldn’t get any better for the Summerhill contingent, Keats Drift, the Summerhill-bred son of National Emblem, raced to an impressive victory in the Betting World Pinnacle Plate over 1900m. Under the tutelage of the experienced Anton Marcus, Keats Drift settled towards the rear of the field before moving up steadily to strike at the 300m mark, powering away to hit the line for a comfortably win.
In the other races of the day, it was a case of “oh so close” for two of Muhtafal’s offspring. In the Gold Bracelet (Gr2) over 2000m Outcome, the supremely talented daughter of Muhtafal and recent winner of the Garden Province Stakes (Gr.1), was denied victory by a strong finishing Gilded Minaret. Outcome continues to impress and has shown again that Greyville is definitely to her liking.
Then the boss, who was still reveling in the victory of Desert Links, cast his learned eye over the field for the Canon Digital Imaging Open Handicap over 1600m, and confidently predicted that Modern Monet would take the laurels. And that he did, driving home from the lunging son of Muhtafal, El Padrino, and Fork Lightening.
Another special moment for Summerhill was when one of our team members, Velaphi Mbanjwa, proved his knowledge of form, and in so doing won tote vouchers to the value of R15 000 courtesy of Canon. Well done Velaphi, we are all so thrilled for you.