Smart Call en­tered for Hong Kong

Sunday Tribune - - NEWS&VIEWS - LIESL KING

TUCKED away among the long list of en­tries for the LONGINES Hong Kong In­ter­na­tional Races, is a six-year-old mare from South Africa named Smart Call, pic­tured, owned by Jes­sica Slack-jell of Mau­ritz­fontein Stud and trained by Alec Laird, best known in Hong Kong for his stun­ning vic­tory in the 1997 QEII Cup with Lon­don News.

Af­ter pick­ing up a mi­nor in­jury dur­ing her ini­tial over­seas foray to Eng­land un­der Laird’s care, Smart Call was trans­ferred tem­po­rar­ily to Sir Michael Stoute ear­lier this year for an ex­tended over­seas cam­paign.

Su­perb tem­per­a­ment

The rest of her biography reads 16 starts in South Africa for seven wins and six plac­ings, in­clud­ing two Gr1 vic­to­ries, five starts in Europe, in­clud­ing a fourth in the Gr1 Prix Jean Ro­manet at Deauville, and the pos­ses­sion of a su­perb tem­per­a­ment and a rather long pair of ears.

Ears, you may ask? Well, ears in mares are rather im­por­tant.

Af­ter all, both Treve and En­able sport a pair of long ones, prompt­ing John Gos­den to com­ment af­ter En­able’s mag­nif­i­cent vic­tory in the Prix de l’arc de Tri­om­phe that he is rather par­tial to mares with long ears!

An­other who likes mares with long ears is Slack-jell, Smart Call’s owner.

She owns a whole stud full of mares, as well as a num­ber of de­cent run­ners, but Slack-jell’s all-time favourite is the big bay mare with long floppy ears.

For not only is Smart Call a home­bred, but she is also by Mau­ritz­fontein’s res­i­dent stal­lion, Ideal World and when can­ter­ing home lonely in the Gr1 Woolav­ing­ton 2 000, she be­came her sire’s first Gr1 win­ner.

On her dam side, Smart Call has even more his­tory. Her mother Good Judge­ment is a daugh­ter of the best race­horse ever bred at Mau­ritz­fontein, the in­cred­i­ble Horse Chest­nut.ev­ery girl must have a dream and Slack-jell’s was to have a run­ner at the Breed­ers’ Cup.

Sadly, al­though Smart Call’s Gr1 Pad­dock Stakes vic­tory granted her au­to­matic en­try to North Amer­ica’s in­ter­na­tional shindig, the mighty mare pulled a mus­cle on New­mar­ket Heath with a month to go and the dream was over.

Not de­terred, though, Slack-jell de­cided to sol­dier on with an over­seas pro­gramme and Smart Call joined Stoute’s New­mar­ket string for the full 2017 Euro­pean sea­son.

The big mare may not have cared much for the un­du­lat­ing English tracks or the mud of the Cur­ragh, but she al­ways tries her heart out.

Her fourth at Deauville was within a head of the sec­ond-placed horse and that de­spite re­ceiv­ing a hefty bump as she started her run.

Hence, Sha Tin will suit her down to the ground lit­er­ally.

A flat grass track with no mud?

For Smart Call and Slack-jell, it doesn’t get any bet­ter than that.

So if you see Smart Call step out onto the emer­ald Sha Tin turf, whether it be in the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup over 2 000m or the LONGINES Hong Kong Vase over 2 400m, don’t look for the ‘Look of Ea­gles’, just watch her ears – they will tell you the whole story and then some. – Hong Kong Jockey Club.

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