Click above to watch Ice Axe winning the Phoenix Maiden Cup (Gr1)…
(Image : Mauritius Turf Club - Footage : Mohammad Moorad Keerpah)
THE PHOENIX MAIDEN CUP Gr1
Champ de Mars, Turf, 2400m
2 September 2012
Champion Breeders of South Africa, Summerhill Stud, produced the winner of Sunday’s Gr1 Phoenix Maiden Cup run over 2400m at the Champ de Mars, Mauritius.
The race that brings the Indian Ocean island to a standstill produced a terrific finish between two arch-rivals, with the Ricky Maingard-trained Solskjaer gelding, Ice Axe, getting the better of the 11-20 favourite Il Saggiatore.
Ice Axe had a handy record when racing in South Africa having won six of his fourteen outings and being placed third, 1,25 lengths behind winner IL Saggiatore, in the 2011 Gr2 Gold Circle Derby.
Unbeaten in his four Mauritius outings, and having slammed Il Saggiatore in his three previous island clashes with him, the punter money market ironically still favoured his main opponent, the Ramapathee Gujadhur-trained Galileo gelding, even at level weights. Il Saggiatore came for plenty of support into 11-20 with generous prices available about Ice Axe.
Solar Symbol was, not unexpectedly, the willing pacemaker and he charged five lengths clear of Ice Axe. Jockey Glen Hatt rode a patient race on the favourite near the back of the field, just ahead of Intercontinental. The grey Senor Versace, the second of the Gujadhur stable, was the first to improve at about the 800m marker, followed by Il Saggiatore who was going very well and looked menacing.
Solar Symbol staggered in the final 300m as his six challengers started pressing and Glen Hatt, on a lightning visit to the island, gradually brought Il Saggiatore into the picture. He hit the front and looked to have done the necessary.
But jockey Gaëtan Faucon had been monitoring matters and produced Ice Axe at the 300m marker to win going away - and hopefully finally silencing the debate as to who is actually the better horse.
Rudi Rocks finished strongly to take third cheque, just in front of Johnny Geroudis on Intercontinental, who had languished at the rear for most of the trip.
It was a first Maiden Cup win for both Maingard and Faecon.