Tales Of Bravery
(Photo : Gold Circle / Summerhill Stud)
RISING SUN GOLD CHALLENGE (Grade 1)
Clairwood, Turf, 1600m
9 June 2012
It’s raining Group Ones in KwaZulu-Natal at the moment, cats and dogs. A fortnight ago, Scottsville staged the only meeting in the world featuring four Group One sprints, and last weekend Greyville hosted the Daily News 2000 (Gr.1) and the Woolavington Stakes (Gr.1).
This weekend it’s the turn of Clairwood Park, where the country’s best milers traditionally clash in the Rising Sun Gold Challenge (Gr.1), the race that rivals the L’Ormarins Queens Plate and the Harry Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut for prestige at the distance. What this field lacks in numbers, it more than makes up for in class, with everyone of the six entries capable of winning the race in a normal year. This is no average year though, and it’s the class of the field which has deterred the entries, which makes this one of the strongest renewals in history. Mention the names What A Winter, Pierre Jourdan, Tales of Bravery, Link Man, Castlethorpe and Variety Club, and you know instantly, when the starter calls the roll on Saturday, there’ll not be a true-blue racing fan in the land who’s not glued to Tellytrack (Channel 232) if he’s not lucky enough to be on course.
Obviously, Variety Club has to start the favourite, as Joey Ramsden made this his mission when he left from Cape Town, and the horse has been prepared to the minute. His well-being was advertised on Saturday, when Jackson, who’d gone down 2¼ lengths to him in the KRA Guineas a month back, paid tribute to the form with a scintillating victory in the Daily News 2000 (Gr.1). Admittedly the Guineas was not Jackson’s trip, but as a horse of immense class, he remains highly effective at a mile.
Cherry-ripe too, and at the top of his game, is Tales of Bravery, who obliterated a slightly below-standard field by its own high standards, in the Drill Hall Stakes (Gr.2) on the same Guineas evening. To date, Tales of Bravery has proven himself one of the most genuine horses in training, if just a tad below Group One class, yet it would be a wonderful tribute to the late to Roy Eckstein if he were to prevail here.
Well below-par a fortnight back in the Golden Horse Casino Sprint (Gr.1), What A Winter tries a mile for the first time since the Cape Guineas (Gr.1) of his year, and while it seemed beyond his measure in those days, it may be that with maturity, he’s ready for the distance. That’s provided the reasons behind his failure in the sprint have nothing but a previous below-par performance at the same course, to explain his form. Both Link Man and Castlethorpe are outstanding performers at their best, yet present form suggests this could be a journey just too big right now. The two Mikes, de Kock and Bass, might turn in their graves at this statement, and since you’d never want to be second-guessing either of them, we’d best leave it at that!