The likelihood of Jay Peg, dual Classic winner over some very serious sorts during the Cape season, going down in what was until recently the SA Guineas Gr1, was about as remote as Seattle Slew missing out in the Kentucky Derby 30 years ago next week.
Off a handicap mark almost 20 pounds ahead of his chief rivals and pitched in at levels, Basil Marcus’ charge was unbeaten at three, and had in fact only faced defeat once in his entire career. Yet there were at least a few commentators that felt if Jay Peg did fluff his lines for any reason, the threat would come either from S.A’s record priced sales yearling, Wonder Lawn (at R3,3 million), or from the R45,000 Summerhill Ready to Run graduate, DYNAMITE MIKE, who had improved unrecognizably in four starts since joining the yard of Michael Azzie.
As things turned out, the odds-on favourite surged to the front with 300 to go, and just as it looked all over, Guillermo Figueroa produced DYNAMITE MIKE with a characteristically perfectly timed run to gun down Jay Peg in the last 75 meters by more than a length.
This was a giant-killing tribute to Michael Azzie’s professional prowess, and while there will be those who will point to the fact Jay Peg was probably a touch ring-rusty, we should remember that his two close-shave Grade One victims earlier this year are both among the top three on the boards for next weeks Gomma Gomma Challenge (Gr1), where they’ll be contesting the biggest prize in African history. Significantly, both Emperor Napoleon and Pick Six shared a paddock back at Summerhill with the Guineas hero, and while as an oddity of a programming arrangement, Gold Circle’s Guineas version has been downgraded a notch, that’s hardly DYNAMITE MIKES’s fault. The race remains, in terms of average merit rating, the highest rated event for Three Year Olds, on the National Racing Calendar, and it remains a mystery as to what our programmers were thinking when they summarily revised its status.
Almost as unthinkable as Jay Peg being laid to rest in the Guineas, is the thought that any one farm could produce as many as nine Stakes winners in seven weeks, yet that’s exactly what’s happened at Summerhill since the first week of March.
As if DYNAMITE MIKE’s big win wasn’t enough though, the “durable” brigade were on display in the Eastern Cape as 7 year old (admittedly Grade One winner) DISAPPEAR snatched a last-to-first victory from yet another Summerhill lady, MIND GAMES, in a desperately tight conclusion to the Arlington Flying Five, one of the quickest 1000metre trips in the land.
This was DISAPPEARS’s 8th career win and takes his earnings ever closer to the R1 million mark. Another graduate of the Ready to Run, DISAPPEAR long ago returned the R160,000 outlay made to acquire him by Mr Appanna.
MORE GUINEAS NOTES
DYNAMITE MIKE’S big win in the Guineas on Saturday reminded us of a few small anecdotes:
a) His groom, JONAS MAHLABA, has worked for the Azzie family for 42 years. He joined Michael’s famous grandfather in 1965 (shortly after Numeral’s July), must’ve known the immortal Hawaii, both owned by the famous American Gems Billionaire, Charles Engelhard, and while he then worked for Michael’s Dad, Herbie, he obviously didn’t “do” Quarrytown, because in his TV interview after the event, he claimed this as his “first” in the race, and added that it was the one he’d always wanted.
b) When Dynamite’s mum, BEYOND THE CALL, first retired to stud, she suffered from a hopelessly enlarged ovary, which severely compromised her prospects of conception. She came within a stroke of being culled, but sentiment intervened (again!).
c) BEYOND THE CALL was one of the mares (among 30 odd) acquired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Kahlifa Al Maktoum for his new stallion HOBB ALWAHTAN, last season and she carries to his cover. “Hobb” is a 6 time winning 3 parts brother to Dubai Millennium.
d) She comes from the family of the great race filly LIANGA, and while “Dynamite” is a son of Sheikh Hamdan’s Middle Park (Gr 1) winner, FARD, he carries the stamina of French St Leger winner Braashee and Amercian Horse of the Year and Belmont Stakes (Gr 1) (1 ½ miles) ace, Arts and Letters. So he may well stay the trip in the Vodacom July, then, though a mile may also be the limit of his stamina.
That’s the intrigue of a game that creates new history every day.
NEWS TRAVELS FAST
As you’d expect following a Classic victory, the phone rang well into Saturday night and Sunday morning, and the calls came from as far afield as Hong Kong, Australia, the USA and the UK.
One hook-up we’d hardly expected was with Winston Chow, owner of the $5 million Sheema Classic (Gr1) hero, VENGEANCE OF RAIN, who obviously had much bigger fish to fry Sunday, when his Champion takes on the world in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (Gr1). Among his adversaries will be Japan’s Dubai Duty Free (Gr1) winner, Admire Moon, and Vengeance of Rain’s Dubai runner-up, the South African Oracle West. As they’ve so often said, may the best man take it.
Always a pleasure for us is to hear from our great friend and supporter, Alec Foster, who’d watched the race on his subscription Channel 34 from the comfort of his Northamptonshire lounge. Amazing what technology’s done for racing isn’t it?
When we reported Alec’s wishes to our staff, they were quick to remind us that DYNAMITE MIKE’s pull-up at the top end of the Imperial Despatch Ready to Run track on the farm, is marked by the “Alec Foster Avenue” sign.
Dynamite’s regular rider, JOHN MOTAUNG, always claimed the horse could read and write, and the way he’d make the detour to the road sign as he eased down, always made the team believe that perhaps Alec and “Mike” might’ve been acquainted in a previous life!