(Photo : JC Photographics)
R2,000,000 SA CLASSIC (Gr1)
Turffontein 1800m Turf
27 March 2010
There is always a buzz around when a horse capable of achieving great things bursts onto the racing scene and Pierre Jourdan looks to be one of those stars in the making.
Jack Milner writes that it is 11 years since Horse Chestnut became the one and only winner of the SA Triple Crown and many pundits believe Gary Alexander’s charge could follow in his footsteps. However, Pierre Jourdan has still got a lot of work to do.
Pierre Jourdan, a R60,000 purchase from the Summerhill draft at the 2008 Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale, took his first step towards securing the R2million Triple Crown bonus by winning the Gauteng Guineas over 1600m on 28 February. His second step, and possibly his toughest, comes at Turffontein Saturday when he contests the R2million SA Classic over 1800m. This is probably the most competitive of the three races, with arguably the strongest line-up of the three.
Should he take victory on Saturday, Pierre Jourdan will then need to win the SA Derby over 2450m on 24 April to claim the SASCOC Triple Crown and secure his name alongside those of racing’s immortals.
“I have always been of the opinion that Pierre Jourdan would prefer the 1800m trip and I am confident of a big run again on Saturday,” said Gary Alexander yesterday. “Whether he will stay the 2450m trip only Saturday will tell. Personally I think he should.”
It is hard to oppose Pierre Jourdan for the SA Classic. He has done nothing wrong, having won five out of six starts and losing the other by the narrowest of margins to fellow Ready To Run graduate, Havasha, who could be his chief rival once more.
There is no question about Pierre Jourdan’s ability but there does remain some doubt about his ability to stay 1800m. Being by Parade Leader there are no stamina doubts on his sire’s side but his dam, the Qui Danzig mare Vin Fizz, only won distances between 1000m and 1400m.
However, the manner in which he took the Gauteng Guineas, coming from a long way back to mow down the opposition, indicates the distance should be no problem. He beat eight of his opposition easily in the Gauteng Guineas at Turffontein and it is hard to make a case for any of them turning it around.
Of the seven newcomers, only three look to have the class needed to win a race of this nature and they are all trained by Mike de Kock. The impression from De Kock and assistant trainer John Buckler, is that Ancestral Fore and Irish Flame may need their runs here while Happy Valley may lack experience.
“Ancestral Fore has not been here too long,” said Buckler, “but he’s been putting up good work at home. It’s difficult to assess his chances on the big day but his main objective is the SA Derby.”
“Irish Flame is another who has not been here too long. Since arriving on the Highveld he has put up some good work and he does have a favourable draw. We are expecting a good run from him and we will know a lot more about him after this race.”
He added that Happy Valley, who has won both of his starts to date, was yet to arrive in Johannesburg from Durban. The grey may not have beaten anything of note but he could not have been more impressive in his victories.
The draw is another concern for Pierre Jourdan and young rider Derreck David as he will have to jump from barrier No 14. Gary Alexander, though, pointed out that in the Gauteng Guineas his charge found himself cut off from a good draw and over 1800m at Turffontein, especially if there is a good pace from the start, the draw should not prove fatal.
The Mike de Kock runners have to be his main dangers but based on the stable comments, one has to be with Havasha. “He has a wide draw to overcome again this time but he is fit and he is looking good. He should be right there,’’ said Buckler.
Havasha should also prefer the extra ground as his dam Juniper Berry, ironically trained by Gary Alexander, won over 2400m. Havasha has Piere Strydom in the irons and he should go closer than the 2.75 lengths he was beaten in Guineas.
Look out too for the outsiders, Ernie Anderson’sNyakatho and Tyrone Zackey’sSmanjemanje, two more products of Summerhill’s 2008 Ready To Run crop. Anderson was distraught after the Guineas as his runner suffered serious interference and had to drop to last and come again. He did remarkably well to finish just six lengths back.
One should also not forget that in January he flew late to run Dingaans winner Curved Ball to half a length and a repeat of that run will see him at least finish in the places.
Galileo’s Galaxy has been most consistent having finished second in the Dingaans and the Cape Guineas, and then third in the Gauteng Guineas. However, it is hard to see Charles Laird’s runner turning around his Guineas defeat by Pierre Jourdan and Havasha, although he should be somewhere in the firing line.
Pierre Jourdan’s prospects of winning his first Grade 1 race only adds to the anticipation of what should be a brilliant day’s racing with no less than seven feature races including the SA Fillies Classic (Gr1), HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes (Gr1), Pretty Polly Stakes (Gr3), Protea Stakes (Gr3), Man O’ War Sprint (Gr3) and the Caradoc Gold Cup (Gr3). The first race goes off at 1.45pm, the SA Classic at 4.45pm and the final event is scheduled to be run at 8.30pm.