Watch Love Struck winning the SA Classic (Grade 1)
(Photo : JC Photos - Footage : Tellytrack)
R2,000,000 SA CLASSIC (Grade 1)
Turffontein, Turf, 1800m
30 March 2013
KwaZulu-Natal trainer Paul Lafferty has mastered the fine art of winning feature races by remote control. His charge Love Struck scored a sensational win at Turffontein Saturday in the R2million SA Classic (Grade 1) to survive a hammering onslaught from the favourite Tellina and a nerve wracking objection after the race.
Love Struck was out early before being eased back as Gray’s Champ led him, with Francois Bernardus in third ahead of No Worries. Grays Champ led for home with Love Struck on his heels and with War Horse looking dangerous down the middle. It couldn’t get more dramatic than the final strides of the richest 3-year-old race in Africa, as Love Struck’s jockey Sean Cormack plugged away as the awesome shadow of the favourite Tellina loomed large down his outside. Tellina’s jockey Robbie Fradd threw the kitchen sink and the jacuzzi at his mount, but the photo showed that Love Struck had hung on to win by a desperately close short head in a time of 111,59 secs.
The two horses came together at the 300m marker, and it appeared that Cormack had switched whip hands to keep his mount on a straight course. In so doing he was alleged to have struck Tellina across the face, thus shortening the colt’s stride as a result. The big horse appeared to regain his stride, but just could not get past Love Struck. The Stipes overruled Robbie Fradd’s objection, and the Geoff Woodruff team’s Triple Crown hopes lay in tatters on the stipes boardroom table.
It was a first Grade 1 winner for trainer Paul Lafferty, who attended the Dubai World Cup festivities. His KZN based assistant Mike Burns was not at Turffontein, so the wily Joe Soma deserves much credit for having Love Struck spot on.
Training by remote control was in the spotlight during the Cape Summer Season, when trainer Joey Ramsden achieved great success with fellow Summerhill National Yearling Sales graduate, the Gary Alexander charge Blueridge Mountain, winning both the Grade 2 Graham Beck Memorial Sceptre Stakes and the Grade 1 Klawervlei Majorca Stakes.
Flamboyant winning owner Alesh Naidoo (representative of the The Fire Racing Trust and partners) said that he had sacrificed his regular trip to run the Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town, to be at Turffontein. He said that he had nominated his horse for the race as Lafferty had said he would not stay. Naidoo paid tribute to the Joey Soma yard who had trained the horse after the Guineas.
Love Struck had been prepped by Cape trainer Shane Humby when registering his previous win in the Listed Breeders Cup Politician Stakes (also over 1800m) on L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Day at Kenilworth in mid January.
Alec Laird’sMullins Bay gelding Gitiano ran on well for third, ahead of War Horse who became a little one paced in the closing stages. The disappointments included recent Egoli Mile winner Bay Of Bengal, the Graham Beck Stakes winner Francois Bernardus, and Tony Ruffel Stakes winner Fantastic Mr Fox, who ran poorly and finished last.
Love Struck was bred by Summerhill Stud and is by Kahal out of the five time winning Rambo Dancer mare, Particular Passion. A R260,000 National Yearling Sales graduate, Love Struck has now won 5 races with 3 places from 13 starts and has career earnings of R1,561,540.