Memorable start for Sun Met
THE Sun Met racemeeting, celebrated with G.H.Mumm at Kenilworth on Saturday, was of such a high standard in every way it prompted an English owner to call South African racing the best in the world.
Ironically, in Sun International’s first year of sponsorship following the 39 year stint of whiskyproducing J&B, the big race winner was named Whisky Baron.
The Brett Crawford-trained four-year-old Australian-bred gelding is owned under the banner of Ridgemont Stud, which was formed by the Kieswetter family, Wayne and Belinda and their sons Ross and Craig.
It was decided Ross and Craig would race all of this partnership’s male horses in their colours, which are reminiscent of Scotland's national flag, while the fillies run in the Ridgemont colours.
Craig represented England in one day cricket 71 times, but his career was ended by an eye injury.
Mother Belinda was born in Scotland and among entrepreneurial father Wayne’s business ventures is a partnership in a Scottish whisky distillery.
The win gave Crawford a third Met and jockey Greg Cheyne a first.
Two years ago Crawford completed the L’Ormarin’s Queen’s Plate and Met double with Futura, only to see the horse depart his yard a few weeks later due to a dispute between the owners.
However, fortune compensated him at the end of the same year when he inherited Whisky Baron after a split between the Kieswetters and their original trainer.
Whisky Baron extended his unbeaten run as a gelding to five starts.
He and the favourite Legal Eagle were the stand outs in the preliminaries.
In the back straight Whisky Baron became trapped wide and his chances hung in the balance.
However, this horse has a laid back demeanour and jockey Greg Cheyne had little difficulty in easing him back and slotting him in.
Anton Marcus had to get to work earlier in the straight on Legal Eagle than he had last year as Captain America and Gold Standard were showing no signs of stopping in front.
Whisky Baron was meanwhile making inroads after turning for home about eight lengths off the lead.
His white near-fore sock made it easy to see how well he was throwing that leading leg out.
The leading trio’s strides were laboured by the time he had caught them just before the 100m mark and he swept past in machine-like fashion to win by 1,5 lengths.
Runner up Legal Eagle was carrying a 2kg Gr 1 penalty, but Whisky Baron was being eased down at the line.
The winner’s stablemate Captain America repeated his third placing from last year.
An objection against him by three-year-old Gold Standard was overruled.
Second favourite Marinaresco turned for home on Whisky Baron’s heels, but couldn’t match his initial turn of foot. He was finishing fast for fifth. French Navy pipped the filly Bela-Bela for the all important sixth place.
The Vodacom Durban July looks likely to be on Whisky Baron’s radar, so the handicappers’ view of the race will be important.
Earlier, Englishman Dr John Warner had waxed lyrical about South African racing.
He had every reason to feel elated as the mare he part-owns, Carry On Alice, had just won the Gr 1 Betting World Cape Flying Championships over 1 000m under S’Manga Khumalo.
The five-year-old daughter of Captain Al has now won a Gr 1 in all four of her racing seasons.
She is yet to win an Equus award and might be hard pressed to do so in this season’s Sprinter category, because the performance of the day undoubtedly belonged to the Cape Flying runner up, Trip To Heaven.
This five-year-old Trippi gelding lost at least five lengths at the start, yet failed by just 0,3 lengths to catch his stablemate. The result gave Sean Tarry a Gr 1 one-two. Gr 1 Mercury Sprint winner Red Ray was third and the filly Jo’s Bond proved her recent defeat of Carry On Alice was no fluke by finishing fourth. The veteran Tevez was a gallant fifth. Earlier Carry On Alice’s formline had been enhanced when the Candice Bass-Robinson-trained filly Live Life won the US$500,000 CTS Sprint over 1 200m under Grant van Niekerk.
The Gr 2 Sceptre Stakes victor produced another powerful finish to beat Gr 1 winner Always In Charge. Trippi had one over Captain Al on this occasion. Attenborough was third. Later, Bass-Robinson’s heart must have sunk when she saw Silver Mountain’s promising run petering out in the Gr 1 Klawervlei Majorca Stakes.
However, it didn’t matter in the end as the stablemate, the Silvano filly Nightingale, produced a strong finish to get up, beating Star Express and Goodtime Gal.
This was Bass-Robinson’s official first Gr 1 winner, having taken the reins from her legendary father Mike at the beginning of this season.
It was also a first Gr 1 win for the familiar duo of jockey Anthony Delpech and owner-breeder Mary Slack since their official retained-status partnership begun.
Earlier, Gold Standard’s Met chances had been enhanced when his Grand Parade Cape Guineas conqueror, the Captain Al colt William Longsword, stormed to victory in the US$500,000 CTS Mile under Anton Marcus, defeating 35-1 shot Copper Force by 1,75 lengths.
Edict Of Nantes
Dingaans winner Singapore Sling was next best. The result also enhanced the form chances of the Crawford-trained Count Dubois colt Edict Of Nantes in the Investec Cape Derby.
Edict Of Nantes duly won it to give an elated Frankie Dettori a first Gr 1 victory in South Africa, twenty years after missing out on the Queen’s Plate ride on London News due to illness.
The Derby race time was nearly five seconds slower than the Met’s. However, the result proved form and distance suitability to be the two ultimate guides.
Crawford’s day had begun with a hair’s breadth victory for Bold Silvano colt Bold Respect in the R1 million Kuda Sprint under Corne Orffer.
Crawford clinched a memorable four-timer when Orffer won the eleventh on Winter Prince.