Su­per fit Fort Noble up to the chal­lenge

The Star Late Edition - - RACING -

THE lat­est Gold Cir­cle Chap­ter Chal­lenge Fi­nals were held on Satur­day and pro­vided three wor­thy win­ners in the Bart Rice­trained The Wal­rus (1 200m), the Den­nis Drier-trained Star Em­pire (1 600m) and the Paul Laf­ferty-trained Fort Noble (2 000m).

Fort Noble, rid­den by Kevin Shea, was a par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing win­ner as he is likely one of the fittest horses in the coun­try.

Laf­ferty made the bold move to put three of his good horses, Sports Fac­tor, Fort Noble and Le­gal Ac­count, on to a heart-rate and in­ter­val train­ing pro­gram that started at the be­gin­ning of April.

The re­sults have proved very good and Le­gal Ac­count was a touch un­lucky not to have pro­vided Laf­ferty with a dou­ble on Satur­day as she had to squeeze through a nar­row gap on the rail be­fore pick­ing up strongly to run a fast fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the ninth race.

The pro­gram is be­ing mon­i­tored by Leon Se­taro, who ex­plained, “It works on the prin­ci­ple of pro­gres­sive load­ing. The horses are built up day by day to take sig­nif­i­cantly more work, but are never given an over­load.

“The equip­ment used in the pro­gram is vi­tal. It con­sists of a watch that has a satel­lite re­ceiver as well as a highly sen­si­tive GPS. Then, at­tached to the girth strap, is a heart-rate monitor, which trans­mits data to the watch.

“The watch is worn by the jockey. The four record­ings taken are speed, in­cline, dis­tance and heart-rate. We are par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ested in the heart-rate in run­ning, the heart-rate re­cov­ery time and also the max­i­mum heart-rate.”

In­jury risk

The pro­gram en­ables the horses to do sig­nif­i­cantly more work with­out in­creas­ing the risk of in­jury. In fact, with the horse be­ing so fit, in­jury risk might well be less­ened.

Fort Noble is a three-year-old geld­ing by Fort Wood who is owned by Steve Sturlese in part­ner­ship with B Martin and was also bred by Sturlese.

He is a good ad­vert for the pro­gram as he ran last Wed­nes­day over 2 000m, fin­ish­ing sec­ond to an im­ported son of Hawk Wing, be­fore com­ing out just three days later and beat­ing a very com­pet­i­tive six­teen horse field in the Chap­ter Chal­lenge fi­nal.

He pro­duced a sus­tained fin­ish­ing ef­fort to beat the Rice-trained Royal Day by a length.

Rice was dis­ap­pointed not to have gained a Chap­ter Chal­lenge dou­ble and re­vealed that ac­cord­ing to Bernard Fayd’Herbe Royal Day had shirked the is­sue at a cru­cial stage be­fore run­ning on strongly, by which time it was too late.

Fayd’Herbe had ear­lier rid­den a typ­i­cally cool and well-timed race to win on Rice’s The Wal­rus.

The five-year-old Di­vine Act geld­ing, owned by D de Abreu, Rice’s wife Pam and Mr and Mrs PA Michaelides, claimed a hat-trick of sprint wins in the process.

He has had his prob­lems and was fit­ted with a cor­nel col­lar prior to his sec­ond win in Oc­to­ber 2008, as he used to dis­place his soft palate, a con­di­tion that af­fects a horse’s breath­ing.

He was also re­cently off with a pelvic in­jury for about 10 months, re­turn­ing in Jan­uary this year.

Rice has known since his first win, in which he was let go 300m out and stormed through to win by 4,25 lengths, that the key to him is his short run in.

In all three of his lat­est wins jock­eys MJ Oden­daal and Fayd’Herbe (last two) have fol­lowed this ad­vice and held him up for as long as pos­si­ble.

One to watch

Stu­art Ferrie, as­sis­tant trainer to Den­nis Drier, said the yard had been con­fi­dent of vic­tory with Star Em­pire, a three-year-old Sec­ond Em­pire geld­ing owned by M Gra­manie in part­ner­ship with Drier’s wife, Gill, and bred by Syd­ney Muller, Far­rell Ratner and Len Salz­man.

“He will win a few races and hope­fully land a Listed event,” said Ferrie.

“He en­joyed the cut in the ground and will prob­a­bly pre­fer fur­ther.”

Pic­ture: Nkosi Hlophe

Win­ning con­nec­tions lead in FORT NOBLE (Kevin Shea up) af­ter vic­tory at Clair­wood last Satur­day. The three-year-old has been on a heart-rate and in­ter­val train­ing pro­gram since the be­gin­ning of April.

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