Eyes Wide Open has the class

The Star Early Edition - - RACING - DAVID THISELTON

GLEN Kotzen had a red let­ter Gold Cup Fes­ti­val Of Rac­ing week­end and so did his clients Chrigor Stud, whose won­der­fully con­spic­u­ous colours are be­com­ing a fa­mil­iar sight in South African rac­ing.

Kotzen sent out four run­ners over the week­end for the Chrigor Stud op­er­a­tion of Hugo and Suzanne Hat­tingh and the yel­low with royal blue checked di­a­monds with red sleeves and cap and royal blue di­a­mond found the win­ner’s en­clo­sure three times in­clud­ing in a Grade 1 and a Grade 3.

The High­lands Farm Stud-bred Dy­nasty colt Eyes Wide Open was the head­liner as he ran on strongly to win the Grade 1 Premier’s Cham­pi­ons Stakes over 1 600m, thus com­plet­ing a Fes­ti­val Grade 1 dou­ble for jockey Richard Fourie.

He jumped from draw six and was mo­men­tar­ily caught wide and head­strong around the turn, but Fourie man­aged to get him tucked in again one wide and he trav­elled beau­ti­fully from then on in.

In the straight he moved up un­der the hands from midfield in the thir­teen horse field and then had to be switched out­ward. Once he saw day­light he wound up into his im­pres­sive stride and won go­ing away by half-a-length from Ances­try.

He will be a se­ri­ous clas­sic horse this sea­son and could well follow in the foot­steps of the Chrigor Stud part-owned Gold Stan­dard and be­come a Sun Met con­tender.

He was bought at the Sibaya KZN Year­ling Sale last year and fetched the sale sec­ond high­est price of R850,000.

He was then sent to Jane Thomas in the KZN Mid­lands to be spelled be­fore mak­ing her way to Kotzen’s Wood­hill Rac­ing Es­tate in the Paarde­berg near Cape Town.

He showed him­self to be smart, “a proper horse”, from day one and was ear­marked for the R1 mil­lion KZN Year­ling Sales race on Vo­da­com Dur­ban July day, as long as he was ready in time.

How­ever, as it hap­pened he be­came “shin sore” and was only able to make his de­but on June 21 in a 1 400m Maiden Ju­ve­nile Plate. He stayed on for a re­spectable third that day. How­ever, it was his next start that con­firmed Kotzen’s be­lief in the colt as cruised to a 3,5 length vic­tory in a Maiden over 1 600m.

“It was his time which was im­pres­sive,” said Kotzen.

“He ran a quicker time than the MR 82 hand­i­cap on the day and it was up with a top di­vi­sion mile time.” One per­son who was con­fi­dent he would win was An­ton Mar­cus.

The top jockey, known for his ex­pert anal­y­sis of form, phoned for the ride and when Kotzen con­firmed his sta­ble jockey Richard Fourie would be aboard Mar­cus ap­par­ently said he would in that case rather watch the race from the stand. Mar­cus proved right. Kotzen had two other run­ners in the race, Sea King and the Chrigor Stud-owned Pack Leader.

Sea King

Sea King, for­merly owned by Kotzen and his son Kuyan to­gether with T Muthusamy, was bought by Green­street Blood­stock be­fore the race and the Jud­pot colt fin­ished a 1,15 length fifth.

Kotzen said Pack Leader’s rider Craig Zackey had said he might have won the race if a gap had not closed on him at a cru­cial stage.

The Phi­lan­thropist colt fin­ished a 1,45 length sev­enth. Ear­lier in the day Vars­fontein Stud-bred Chrigor Stud-owned Cap­tain Al filly Princess Peach had won the Grade 3 The Sunlife Vi­ta­mins Debu­tante Stakes over 1 200m un­der Fourie, when see­ing off the chal­lenge of the highly re­garded Nep­tune’s Rain. Kotzen said she was a bit of a quirky filly, “a real madam”. How­ever, this is not un­usual for a tal­ented filly. He added, “She is re­ally smart and came right at the right time.

Her pedi­gree sug­gests she will want a mile and she has a hel­luva ac­tion, so we will likely go the Guineas route with her.”

Kotzen won the first race of the day, a Maiden Plate over 1 000m on the poly with Edith’s Rose, a What A Win­ter filly rid­den by Ran­dolph.

He said, “It was very ex­cit­ing to pro­vide Mor­ris Ferreira with his 80th win­ner on such a big day.”

Kotzen also ac­knowl­edged the fine work put in by Ferreira’s rac­ing man­ager Des Gon­calves.

He was full of praise for the im­prov­ing Edith’s Rose and con­tin­ued, “She won in a fan­tas­tic time.”

Her chief tar­get will be one of the ex­pen­sive sales races over 1 400m. Kotzen ended Sun­day by pulling off a fine train­ing feat. The six-year-old Greys Inn geld­ing Gone Baby Gone was off for about a yearand-a-half with in­jury at one stage and he has brought him back slowly but steadily this year.

He won a MR 94 Hand­i­cap over 1 900 on the poly­track on Sun­day un­der Erico Saziso Ng­wane.

On day one of the Fes­ti­val on Satur­day Kotzen won with the speedy Chrigor Stud-owned Gee Whizz, a two-year-old filly by Sail From Seattle who did well to beat older fil­lies over 1 000m in a MR 82 Hand­i­cap un­der Fourie.

How­ever, she will now have to go for a wind op­er­a­tion as she has a breath­ing is­sue. Kotzen's looks to have an ex­cit­ing clas­sic sea­son ahead of him and his yard look to have a good chance of mak­ing a few head­lines.

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