Winning Leap - Gold Bowl (Grade 2)
(Photo : JC Photographics / Summerhill Stud)
GOLD BOWL (Grade 2)
It’s no easy task for a 3 year old to take on older rivals over 3200m and that is probably why Winning Leap was the only representative in this event of his generation. The ground was soft and it rained throughout the race, but despite all, the Summerhill-bred son of Labeeb came through with his head held high, writes Steve Furnish for Sporting Post.
The classy Santa, a runner up in this race last season, was always at the top of the bookmakers’ boards and after finding good support on course he eventually left the stalls at 2/1. Mike de Kock’s only representative Wild Kodiak was also fancied. He shortened into 6/1 from 10’s, whilst all of Chico Azul (10/1 into 8/1, touched 7’s), Saltwater Girl (10/1 into 8/1) and Winning Leap (20/1 into 15/1) were all nibbled at in the ring.
They set off on this two mile trip rather slowly and were seemingly still in no hurry to get out of the rain as they passed the winning post for the first time. As they moved into the long back straight though the confirmed frontrunner Chico Azul raised the tempo and the field quickly began to string out. The unfancied Dancing Red sat second whilst the eventual winner Winning Leap raced close up in third. Racing in fourth was another outsider Carnoustie. The favourite Santa raced alongside Saltwater Girl in fifth and only five lengths off the pace at that stage they were perfectly positioned to mount a challenge. The order changed very little as they moved up the back straight and it was only when the pace began to slow again rounding the home turn that things began to change. The rain began to pour as they entered the home straight and with Chico Azul now battling to quicken, Winning Leap, under replacement rider apprentice Juan Paul Van Der Merwe, swiftly took up the running. Santa also quickened very nicely at the top of the straight and when he moved up to tackle Winning Leap 500m from home it looked as if he would go on to land the odds. Just as he had done when winning in a lowly MR71 Handicap last time out though, the rapidly improving Winning Leap found extra. The pair then fought out a protracted battle with both horses and riders giving their all. Behind them meanwhile the fancied Starzene had steadily been making headway and within a length of the duel 300m from home, he too joined the fight. Surprisingly, it was the recent Racing Association Stakes winner Santa who was the first to crack. Running out of gas 150m from home. That didn’t make things any easier for Winning Leap though as Starzene was plugging on determinedly. Answering every call from his up and coming rider though, Winning Leap dug deep below the distance and in the style of a true stayer, he held on to score by three quarters of a length. Now a tired horse, Santa kept on to finish third, whilst staying on for fourth, some nine lengths adrift, was Precedent.
A son of Labeeb out of the Northern Guestmare Summersault, Winning Leap, an R85,000 purchase from the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Sale, has now won three of his seven career starts to date amassing stake earnings in excess of R400,000. Winning Leap showed real guts and determination in winning this event and with natural improvement still to come, he’s clearly one to keep tabs on in the future.