Abashiri - SA Classic (Gr1)

The best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry, and leave us nothing but grief and pain, for promised joy!
— Robbie Burns

The Orange Revolution was the name given to pro-West protests in the Ukraine in 2005. The Orange Revolution hit Turffontein on Saturday but this one was all about Abashiri in the SA Classic.

Ridden by Karl Zechner, the Abashiri, a son of Go Deputy, stormed to a 3.75-length victory over Brazuca, with 50-1 shot Samurai Blade another 0.75-lengths back in third and Suyoof in fourth.

Abashiri is now just one race away from becoming the third horse to win the SA Triple Crown and claim the R2-million bonus that goes with it.

The gelding is trained by Mike Azzie and owned by Adriaan and Rika van Vuuren, who run their horses in orange colours with black crossed sashes. These were the same colours used by late businessman Tony Factor. Within moments of the horse crossing the line the parade ring filled with supporters wearing orange bibs with Abashiri’s name printed in black.

Abashiri went off at 6-10 and the race could not have gone better. Stable companion Le Clos went to the front while Abashiri sat midfield one off the fence and had Brazuca on his heels. With 400m to run Zechner made his move, switching his mount out for a clear run and in a few strides it was all over. Abashiri ran past the opposition and went clear at the line.

Once again he hung to the outside of the track and finished almost hard up against the outside rail. “I think he just loves the crowd,” said an elated Zechner who rode his first Grade 1 winner.

“Years ago in Durban Mr Azzie replaced me on a horse in a feature but he promised that one day he would have a good horse and I would get the ride. I’ve ridden some good horses since arriving in Joburg but Abashiri is the cherry on the cake.”

But as Robbie Burns once wrote: “The best laid schemes of mice and men oft go awry, and leave us nothing but grief and pain, for promised joy!”

How true that nearly turned out to be for Abashiri’s connections as just three weeks back the horse stepped on his own foot and it looked as if he would have to be pulled out of the race. “He was stuck in his box for eight days while we did everything to try and remedy the situation,” said Azzie.

“Fortunately he was a very fit horse already and I didn’t think he would lose that fitness so quickly. But, who knows, that may have worked in his favour. Maybe somebody upstairs was sending us a message.”

He will now be aimed at the SA Derby over 2450m and it is hard to see any of the horses who ran behind him in the Classic turning it around in the Derby. It was a worthy first Grade 1 win for Van Vuuren who has invested hugely in South African racing.

Extract from www.tabnews.co.za