Jack Milner
Bezanova, perfectly ridden by Weichong Marwing, fought off a determined challenge by No Worries to win the R600,000 Emperors Palace Charity Mile at Turffontein on Saturday. In doing so he earned the top prize of R100,000 for the National Horse Trust.
— Jack Milner / The Citizen

Bezanova was the lesser fancied of trainer Alec Laird's three runners and drifted to 18-1 from 8-1. Stablemate Bouclette Top was the more fancied of the trio - the third being As You Like - and went off as the 11-2 second favourite behind Sovereign Mint (5-1).

Bezanova showed a lot of courage to hold off No Worries (20-1), who had to overcome the widest draw in the 16-horse field, by a neck, with Louis The King (7-1) running on strongly from near last to finish third, just 0.75 lengths off the winner. Fourth place went to another Geoff Woodruff runner, Lockheed Jetstar.

There was drama at the start when Rake's Chestnut stumbled badly, dislodging jockey Anton Marcus. Fortunately both jockey and horse were fine and Marcus was able to continue his riding arrangements for the day.

Tommy Gun attempted to repeat his run in the Emerald Cup and set quite a decent pace up front. Keagan de Melo on No Worries managed to overcome his poor draw quickly and raced up wide to lie second, just ahead of Jet Jamboree and Midnight Run. Marwing had Bezanova in touch with the leaders with stablemate Bouclette Top just behind him while Piere Strydom had dropped Louis The King out from his draw and raced three from last.

Tommy Gun faded quickly from the scene which allowed No Worries to take the lead. But he was soon under pressure from Bezanova, who managed to edge ahead. Down the outside Louis The King started to run on strongly and it even looked like he would sweep past them all.

No Worries fought back gamely, but Bezanova edged ahead in the closing stages to beat his rival by a neck with Louis The King only 0.50 lengths further back in third.

Laird was delighted with the victory although he admitted he had preferred the chances of Bouclette Top. "At this stage Bezanova has been entered into the Sansui Summer Cup. We'll take a look at how he is weighted and make a decision later on as to whether we will run him or not," said Laird.

In the SASCOC Triple Crown, his runners could not penetrate the tenacity of Louis the King but finally Bezanova tipped the scales. "Unfortunately this is not a Grade 1 race but we'll take it," said Laird.

On a day when horses were not winning from off the pace, the fact that Louis The King could make up the amount of ground he did was remarkable. Drawn wide, jockey Piere Strydom felt he faced an impossible task. "I'll take third place," said a delighted Strydom.

Woodruff said his charge had started to put in some good work during the week and most pundits, including Mike de Kock, were proclaiming Louis The King as the horse to beat in the Summer Cup.

Extract from The Citizen