(Photo : Gold Circle)
Betting World Derby and Oaks (Grade 2)
Clairwood, Turf, 2400m
24 June 2012
Life can be funny in the way it throws up coincidences. Or is it possible that these things are preordained? Here we are at the quarter final stage of Europe’s biggest football tournament, England, thank heavens for her fans who’ve taken a pasting on the rugby field of late, having made it to the quarters, and suddenly on the racing front we’re reminded of one of the same tournament’s greatest sons. Some years ago, Manchester United striker, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made this tournament his own, and the horse the Coolmore team named for him, Solskjaer, pops up with a live candidate for each of this weekend’s Gold Circle Derby and Oaks.
The Derby looks like a match in two, with Vaughan Marshall’sTribal Dance in the one corner and Gavin van Zyl’sShogunnar in the other. The catch here is which form is the more reliable. Tribal Dance destroyed his field in the East Cape Derby (Gr.3) a few weeks back, and we found a pleased-as-punch Vaughan Marshall grabbing an early breakfast on Sunday morning at Café Bloom: he was imperious in pink, and he had the bloom of confidence about him. Shogunnar on the other hand, on only his fourth racecourse appearance, posted the fastest last 400 metres in an ominous display from the back, grabbing the third placed cheque behind Jackson in the Daily News 2000 (Gr.1). We’re not for a moment suggesting that Shogunnar is in the Jackson class, but this was a smashing effort making up 7 lengths on the favourite, and as a son of the Summerhill resident, Solskjaer, he gives hope of a good weekend. Adding weight to our aspirations, just Tuesday afternoon, the stallion’s first-time daughter, Sol’s Gold, gave early notice with a 60-1 performance for Albert Rapp and co at the Vaal. Don’t tell Mike Bass or Marsh Shirtliff we said this was a “match in two”. They’ll tell you Taipan is the one to be with, and he could well be; it’s just that a “match-in-two” had a better ring to it.
The Oaks is a different matter. It does not look like a vintage field, the top rated being Beloved Betty (MR 99), Razzle Dazzle Rose (MR 96) and Avenue of Gold (MR 92), while Mike de Kock will believe he holds a strong hand with Tajmeel (MR 86). However, for as long as you have a ticket, there’s hope, and it’s interesting that current champion jockey, Anton Marcus, has taken the ride on Sean Tarry’sFinal Score, another Summerhill-bred daughter of Solskjaer. You might well ask where all this stamina comes from, given that the stallion’s December-foaled Ice Axe picked up a cheque in the Derby last year. Here we need to remember that his half-brother Yeats, is the only horse in history to have posted four consecutive victories in the greatest staying race in Europe, the Ascot Gold Cup (Gr.1) over 4000m, coincidentally also scheduled for Thursday at Royal Ascot. That probably says it all. It’s now in the hands of providence.