Left : Noble Heir - Computaform Sprint (Grade 1)
Centre : Waywest Goddess - The Fillies Nursery (Grade 2)
|Right : Winning Leap - Gold Bowl (Grade 2)
(Photos : JC Photographics)
OF TRIPLE CROWNS, CLASSICS AND CONSOLATIONS
On a weekend in which the hot favourites for the Kentucky Derby and the English 2000 Guineas were up-ended, Pierre Jourdan’s attempt at the Triple Crown as the first since Horse Chestnut, was the best performance from those who were backed to take their country’s major classics.
One of the hottest-priced fancies for the first of the English Classics, St Nicholas Abbey was a spent force entering the dip at Newmarket, signalling a warning to the connections of his American counterpart, Lookin At Lucky that favouritism was no guarantee for success in any Triple Crown event. And that’s the way it turned out, neither of them making the frame.
In Pierre Jourdan’s case, the reason was simple. He failed to see out the trip, made all the longer by the sticky going, and while he challenged gallantly all the way to the line, he was no match for Mike de Kock’sIrish Flame, who looks to have the KZN version of the Derby (at least,) and maybe the Daily News 2000, at his mercy. We use the word “maybe” advisedly, as the outcome of the KRA Guineas (Gr2)run at Greyville Sunday, followed a stirring performance from Noordhoek Flyer,and if he gets the 2000m of the Daily News journey, (which he didn’t do in the Cape Derby (Gr1) in January), we could be in for one helluva race.
There were three Classics on the weekend in South Africa, the third being the SA Oaks, and quite amazingly, in what might be considered an unlucky weekend for Summerhill, we had the runners-up in each of them. Besides Pierre Jourdan’s 2nd in the SA Derby, Havashawas an encouraging pursuer of Noordhoek Flyer in the Durban version of the Guineas (he was gelded after the SA Classic, and obviously didn’t have the best of preparations), while Salutationlooked a winner with a hundred to go in the SA Oaks. Coming from last in the mud was one step too far for her, the effort in making up the ground and hitting the front at the 200, sapping her of the energy to sustain her run.
Consolation came in several forms. Way West’sfirst crop daughter, Waywest Goddess,gave the juvenile fillies a galloping lesson in The Fillies Nursery (Gr2),as she strode away regally by two lengths, and while there will be those that will argue that the underfoot conditions accounted for more than one upset result, as things stand right now, she’s queen of her realm. In another telling blow for the Summerhill stallions, Noble Heir gave Kahalhis second Gr1 heroine in just over a month, putting paid to the aspirations of three other Gr1 winners, Warm White Night, Mythical Flight and Private Jet,in the R1million Computaform Sprint (Gr1).
While we may have been dejected at the failure of Pierre Jourdan’s Triple Crown bid, and felt a little hard done by with three seconds in the three Classics, there was consolation in the last of the Group races on Saturday, when Winning Leapstayed on like a trojan in the second richest marathon on the South African racing calendar, the R500,000 Gold Bowl (Gr2). Winning Leap is another powerful stayer by the unlikely stamina source, Labeeb,who besides being a dual Gr1 winner to a maximum of nine furlongs in the United States, was also highly effective as a sprinter. His influence however, has been principally over the longer distances, which bodes well for the prospects of the genuine middle distance racehorses occupying the Summerhill barn as we write, Admire Main,Mullins Bay, AP ArrowandSolskjaer.Recent Champion sires Fort Wood and Al Mufti,remind us of this imperative.
On the technical side, Winning Leap is yet another sterling product of a Northern Guestmare, his mother hailing from the fabulous Aga Khan family of champion sires Nasrullah, Royal Charger and Kalamoun.