David Thiselton writes in The Sunday Tribune that the champion grey race mare, Dancer’s Daughter, powered home to the cheers of the crowd at Turffontein on Saturday in the Grade 1 R1 million Laurie Jaffee Empress Club Stakes over 1600m and probably gave South African horseracing a huge boost in the process.
Whereas the champions of yesteryear toured the country to run in all of the big features, Johannesburg had not seen one of the Cape’s big horses for sometime, as it has become the norm for them to concentrate exclusively on the Cape summer and Durban winter seasons.
Trainer Justin Snaith said after the race that having consistently told the public that Dancer’s Daughter , a daughter of Shadwell Stud’s Act One, was one the best females ever to race in the country, it would have been “criminal” not to bring her to Johannesburg to prove it.
Justin Snaith expressed recently that when he talked it was actually his horse doing the talking and how Dancer’s Daughter did so on Saturday, slicing through the field like a knife through butter in the straight before easily repelling the challenge of the Mike de Kock–trained Milk and Honey.
During her Johannesburg campaign, Dancer’s Daughter has been cared for by five time South African champion trainer, Geoff Woodruff, at the Vaal and the only question mark had been whether his stable jockey, Mark Khan, would be able to settle the notoriously headstrong mare. Mark Khan, the reigning champion jockey of South Africa, did so to perfection and had her near the tail behind horses from early on.
The Johannesburg public can now look forward to the Graham Beck-owned grey running in two more Grade 1 races in April, the Horse Chestnut Stakes and the Champions Challenge.
Her legend is sure to grow to epic proportions if she pulls off the treble that nobody had envisioned her taking part in just over a month ago, as she was being prepared for the J&B Met amid rumours that she would then head overseas.
The better she does, the better it will be for the reputation of her J&B Met conqueror, Pocket Power, who is no doubt one of best the horses to ever race in South Africa.
Milk And Honey ran a fine race to finish only one length back, as the rest of the field were strung out like the washing, the Ormond Ferraris-trained Gypsy’s Warning finishing third and the Mike Miller-trained KwaZulu-Natal challenger Outcome next best.
The first leg of the triple crown, the Grade 2 R1-million Gauteng Guineas, saw a dramatic finish with the Charles Laird-trained Oracy scraping home by a whisker under Anton Marcus ahead of dead-heaters, the Paul Matchett-trained Cerise Cherry and the Tyrone Zackey-trained Royal Rez.
Oracy, a New Zealand-bred by Zabeel, is owned by Markus Jooste. Still unbeaten, he is favoured by some to land the Triple Crown and this was going to be his toughest leg as he would prefer further.
Still, the proximity of 92-rated Royal Rez once again casts a doubt over the class of this season’s three year old male crop.
Charles Laird, Anton Marcus and Markus Jooste earlier combined to win the Grade 2 Hawaai Stakes over 1400m with odds-on favourite Our Giant, who ran out a comfortable one-length winner over what would appear to be his favourite trip.
The Mike Miller-trained KwaZulu-Natal raider, The Big Ask, a graduate of the Summerhill Ready To Run, ran a fine second, while another out of town horse, the Zimbabwean Lisa Harris-trained Earl Of Surrey finished third.
The Mike de Kock-trained Zirconeum romped home in the first leg of the Triple Tara, the Grade 2 R500 000 Gauteng Fillies Guineas, winning by 3.5 lengths from the Geoff Woodruff-trained Sharp Mistress and the Paul Matchett-trained Golden Scold. Zirconeum is owned by Chris, Andrew and Doug Haynes, together with Gary Grant and Mike de Kock himself.