Sail South head of the class
BRETT Crawford landed his sixth Grade 1 win of the season on Saturday, the first day of the Gold Cup Festival Of Racing at Greyville, when Sail South won the Champions Cup over 1 800m under Richard Fourie.
National Champion trainer Sean Tarry has landed seven Grade 1s this season, but has had only four individual Grade 1 winners, while Crawford has had five individual Grade 1 winners, Edict Of Nantes, who won two Grade 1s, Whisky Baron, Captain America, Lady Of The House and Sail South. Mike de Kock has had five Grade 1 winners courtesy of five individual Grade 1 winners.
Sail South, a six-year-old gelding, became his late sire Sail From Seattle's third Grade 1 winner and remarkably the other two, Elusive Gold and Gulf Storm, were also trained by Crawford.
Sail South has always had a lot of class, but has had a tendency to over race.
The key to his victory on Saturday was the good pace of the race set by his stabalemate Captain America.
Captain America jumped quite well, but was momentarily squeezed between BelaBela and Marinaresco, having jumped from the second widest draw of all in the ten horse field.
He found himself out wide as they reached the first turn.
Meanwhile, Sail South, who had jumped from draw seven, had gone around them and was in the lead quite soon into the turn.
However, he then began over racing a touch as he waited for Captain America to slot in front of him.
Once Captain America had found the rail he was given a breather, but then began stretching out with his big stride.
The fast fractions suited Sail South down to the ground as he was also able to use his stride. Captain America kicked away at the top of the straight and made a bold bid to hold on. However, his early exertions soon took their toll and Sail South draw level at the 200m mark and was still full of running.
He went on to beat him by 1,25 lengths and returned odds of 17-1 compared to Captain America’s 41 price.
The relatively unexposed Tarry-trained three-year-old gelding Matador Man showed how good he was by storming home from second last in the running to finish a 2,25 length third at odds of 15-1.
Bela-Bela started 26-10 favourite, but was held up on the false rail behind her stablemate It’s My Turn.
By the time she began her chase down the inside it was clear she was going to battle to make up the leeway against the superbly conditioned Crawford pair, who both had the advantage of coming into the race relatively fresh. However, in her swansong she still managed a respectable 2,75 length fourth.
The July winner Marinaresco understandably found the race a bridge too far after a tough season and made little impact from last place before being nursed home to finish second last.
Ten Gun Salute, from third in the running, held on for the fifth place cheque ahead of Table Bay.
It was another magnificent training feat by Crawford and the time said it all.
The 108,28 seconds was more than four seconds faster than last year's renewal and close to three second faster than the previous year’s. However, it was not as quick as the 107,38 seconds of 2014 and there is little coincidence that the winner of that race, Futura, was also trained by Crawford. Crawford also won the race in 2013 with Jackson.
Sail South began showing his true class when getting a fast pace over 1 600m on Vodacom Durban July day last year in the Listed Daisy Business Solutions Handicap.
He destroyed them by five lengths that day despite carrying topweight of 61kg off a 104 merit rating.
He got another good pace in his second run of the season over 1400m in a Pinnacle Stakes race and he cruised in by 3,5 lengths. That race was also the beginiing of his successful partnership with Richard Fourie. However, his transformation into a genuine Grade 1 performer came when he was held up for the first time by Fourie in the LÓrmarin’s Queen’s Plate. He over raced at the back yet still managed to fly up for third behind Legal Eagle and Captain America.
The same tactic was used in the Grade 1 Rising un Gold Challenge and after over racing again, he flew from a hopeless position for fourth. Saturday was the first time he had gone beyond a mile and the remarkable bay proved his class again. His Northfields dam did win over 2400m. Sail South was bred by Mr and Mrs GN Potts and is part-owned by them together with GJ Dempsey.