KING'S PACT STAKES
Scottsville, Turf, 1000m, 29 March 2015
Team Valor International look to be onto something special with the Glen Kotzen-trained speedster Royal Pleasure. The good-looking 2-year-old chestnut filly enjoyed the distinction of being her sire Visionaire’s first South African winner when scoring on debut in January and added the R120,000 King’s Pact Stakes Sunday at Scottsville to her unbeaten record.
The signs were there when leading Cape jockey Greg Cheyne made the long trip up to Pietermaritzburg for just the one ride. And the beautiful filly was never under any pressure to score easily.
Royal Pleasure was bred by Team Valor and was purchased for a bargain R30,000 on the 2014 KZN Suncoast Yearling Sale by Andy Williams’ Worldwide Bloodstock. She is out of the King Of Kings mare, Royal Purse, who was unplaced in 3 starts at 2 to 4 and the dam is a half-sister to Jalberry, the dam of Count Express and Singapore winner Mr Fantastic.
During Visionaire's racing career, the chestnut won 5 races from 1300m to 1700m, including terrific efforts when winning the Grade 1 King’s Bishop Stakes and the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes. Considered a stallion-making race, the 2008 King’s Bishop at Saratoga was Visionaire’s finest hour and stamped him as a very special athlete.
Royal Pleasure made her debut in the 3A Racing Syndicate silks but on Sunday she turned up in the famous red and green finery of Team Valor International for her second outing.
The Sporting Post spoke with Barry Irwin after the race, “After the filly won on debut, I contacted Glen Kotzen about whether Royal Pleasure could be bought. It turned out that Glen and bloodstock agent Andy Williams owned the majority and the 3A owned 20 percent. I bought out Glen and Andy in partnership with my longtime Durban-based racing partners Anant and Vanashree Singh, with whom we have raced many top fillies.” he said.
Irwin added that they now owned the majority 80 percent share and that the 3A Syndicate remained partners in the new formation. He confimed, “They seem a fun lot for sure and we hope we have some luck racing with them. She looks to be a particularly speedy type and we plan to exploit her precocity and speed while she has an edge over her contemporaries. So the impending dashes open to juvenile fillies will occupy her dance care in the immediate future.”
Team Valor have raced with great success all over the globe and in South Africa have had top horses with various trainers, including Glen Kotzen. “We have had some nice horses in the past with Glen, the most memorable one being Alexandra Rose. She initially was a Grade 2 winner for Juan van Heerden as a 2-year-old and after we bought her she missed by a head bob to the then unbeaten Bad Girl Runs in the Grade 1 Cape Fillies Guineas. She later raced well for us in Dubai and won a Group 3 sprint on grass at Santa Anita. She remains in our broodmare band and is producing foals by Animal Kingdom these days. Her South African-based filly Alice Springs has won her last 3 races in a row for Mike de Kock. Varsfontein owns her.”
Jockey Greg Cheyne will now have some ‘royal’ decisions to make. He also rides Princess Victoria’s half-sister Princess Royal for the same yard and the recent East Cape Fillies Nursery winner will have many similar races in target as Royal Pleasure. Whilst Cheyne obviously went up for the ride to assess Royal Pleasure’s merits, but would not be drawn afterwards on which one he is likely to opt for.