Champions Day could not be more aptly named. Competing at Turffontein on Saturday 30 April will be the highest rated three-year-old, the top two rated four-year-olds, five-year-old and filly in the country.
Viewing entries in
Wylie Hall, "heartbreak horse" of the 2014 Vodacom Durban July, showed just what a classy performer he is as he stormed to victory in the R2-million President's Champions Challenge at Turffontein on Saturday.
Geoff Woodruff - quietly confident about Private Jet
(Photo : Summerhill Sires Brochure)
Turffontein, 1 May 2010
NICCI GARNER : Pierre Jourdan’s bid for Triple Crown glory on Champions Day has had to be postponed for a week due to the weather and many punters are wondering what impact the delay may have on the runners engaged for the richest day in South African horseracing.
Champions Day was first postponed until Tuesday and then to this coming Saturday after some 70mm of rain in the last 10 days, so the nation’s racing fans are still holding their breath in anticipation of watching the star colt with the Roman nose try to make history by becoming only the second horse to win the SASCOC SA Triple Crown.
Pierre Jourdan, who is currently on offer at 11-10 for the third and final leg, the R1.5million SA Derby, will not be inconvenienced by a soggy track and the new beach training track at Turffontein has proved a boon for his trainer Gary Alexander and other trainers there, allowing them to work their horses through the wettest summer in some three decades.
At this stage the track is not drying as fast as was hoped because of the cold and overcast weather and weather tipsters’ forecasts for the next few days differ significantly. For instance, the SA Weather Service predicts Friday and Saturday will be “partly cloudy with showers and thunder showers’’ and estimates that 8mm of rain will fall on the two days. On the other hand www.accuweather.com predicts Friday will be “sunny and nice’’ with maximum temperatures in the region of 22 degrees Celsius and Saturday will be “partly sunny and pleasant’’ with a high of 21 degrees Celsius. If the latter forecast is correct, the track will get the chance that it needs to dry and racing should definitely be able to go ahead.
Trainers of the big runners also have differing opinions about how much the postponement will affect their runners’ chances.
Those who will be most affected by the delay will be the visiting horses from KwaZulu Natal because of altitude issues. The rule of thumb for coastal horses raiding on the Highveld, where the air is more rarefied, is to bring them up a month before the race so they have a chance to acclimatise or to travel them as close to the race as possible.
Durban-based Herman Brown has two runners carded, 33-1 chance Lion’s Blood in the R2million Champions Challenge over 2000m and Intellectual in the R1million Computaform Sprint. His runners arrived at Turffontein on Friday last week, primed to the minute.
“While neither will mind soft ground, I’m not too optimistic,’’ Brown mourned yesterday. “They are unlikely to run to their best form after a week away from home, but funny things do happen. There are no fixed rules in this game and we’ll take our chances. “The delay will affect Intellectual less over the 1000m distance than it will Lion’s Blood over the 2000m,’’ he confirmed. “But Lion’s Blood does like Turffontein and runs well there.’’
Champion trainer elect Mike de Kock, who needs only three more winners to reach the 2000-winner milestone, will saddle the favourites in the Champions Challenge (Rudra) and the SA Oaks (Here To Win as well as second favourite Alderry).
He is philosophical about the postponement: “We’re all in the same boat,’’ he said. “The horses are all very fit and there’s not much more we can do with them. Providing they get some exercise to stretch their legs, they won’t fall off in a week. Anyway, sometimes having a couple of days off does them the world of good!’’
Charles Laird, who fields Computaform Sprint favourite Warm White Night, as well as Champions Challenge second fancy Smart Banker and several other short-priced runners, is fuming about the double postponement.
“If a race meeting cannot take place on the scheduled day or the day after, it should be put off for a week,’’ he said. “These three-day postponements (Saturday to Tuesday, for instance) wreak havoc because you can’t work the horses in between. These are not motor cars that you can just take out the garage whenever you need to - and you can’t give them hard work 24 hours before a race meeting. They do need to get out and stretch their legs. And the Randjesfontein sand tracks are under water! I understand that we’ve had an unusually wet season, but the Turffontein track staff should be experienced enough to make an early call and not mess us around.’’
The Vaal has not had quite as much rain as Turffontein and Randjesfontein and the affable trainer is happy to continue his “maintenance programme’’ with the defending champ, who beat Rebel King and Warn White Night in a thriller a year ago.
“Of course he was prepared to run last Saturday and we’ve lost one fast work-out and a pace work-out, but I don’t think it’ll inconvenience us too much,’’ he said.
Extract from Racing Express
Pierre Jourdan and Derreck David
(Photo : Robin Bruss)
NUMBER 3 DRAW OR BETTER FOR PIERRE JOURDAN
Pierre Jourdan will have the benefit of No 3 draw or better in the Grade 1 SA Derby on Champions Day 24 April, when he attempts to become only the second horse in South African racing history to win the SASCOC SA Triple Crown.
Nicci Garner writes that Gary Alexander’s charge won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, the Gauteng Guineas and SA Classic, and will compete for the R2-million bonus in the SA Derby over 2450m at Turffontein on Saturday 24 April.
The R1.5-million SA Derby is one of eight feature races on the day with three Grade 1 events. The others are the R2-million Champions Challenge over 2000m and the R1million Computaform Sprint over 1000m.
Pierre Jourdan showed his class when winning the SA Classic, the second leg of the Triple Crown, from a poor draw, but this time jockey Derreck David will not have to worry about that problem. Should Pierre Jourdan win he will follow in the footsteps of the great Horse Chestnutwho won the Triple Crown in 1999.
De Kock will also be delighted that Rudra will break from pole position in the Champions Challenge. The 2008 Summer Cup winner has slowly been regaining his old form and looks the one they will all have to beat.
Supplementary entries closed on Monday and the only two new nominations for the Grade 1 races came in the Computaform Sprint where Lightning Lecture and Esterel joined the list of nominations.
Final acceptances fall due at 11am tomorrow.
NOMINATIONS FOR THE
R1,5 MILLION SA DERBY GR1 2450m
Turffontein, 24 April 2010
CONQUERED DREAM (AUS)
FLYING TREISTRAM (AUS)
HAPPY VALLEY (ARG)
Mike de Kock
Mike de Kock
Mike de Kock
HERE TO WIN (BRZ)
Mike de Kock
There can’t be too many race meetings in the world that boast eight Graded Stakes races, yet that’s what racegoers can look forward to Saturday at Turffontein, and if the last few months are anything to go by, we can count on some big hitting contests. For Summerhill, we have sixteen footsoldiers on duty in the Graded races, but for the time being, we’ll concentrate our comments on the three Grade Ones, kicking off with the top-biller, the Champions Challenge (Gr.1) for all of R2 million.
There are a lot of pundits who would make the quartet of Smart Banker, Likeithot, Senor Versace and Crown Of Power from the Charles Laird stable a “shoe-in” for the laurels, but we’re not sure it’s that cut and dried. Much will be claimed by the connections of Buy And Sell, Surfin’ USA (whose mother Fenn Tarbitt-owned Palm Beach Gold is a resident mare at Summerhill), Forest Path and Zirconium, while Ormond Ferraris will be hoping that his gallant mare, She’s On Fire, is able to reproduce the run which carried her into second spot last year.
Charles Laird may well have four aspirants engaged in the big one, but we’re not without our own hopes, headed up by the horse that managed second place in the event a year ago, Catmandu, on-fire Thandolwami, and the heroine of the prestigious Gerald Rosenberg Stakes at her last start, Spring Garland, while Steve Sturlese’s El Padrino rounds it out. There are some doubts about the stamina limitations of Thandolwami and El Padrino, but the former has managed a decent draw for the first time in heavens-knows-how long, and he seems to have a love for Turffontein and its long strait. How many times has this fellow been beaten by the fact that he’s run out of space at Greyville, and we only have to go back to November to see him running within a quarter length of Likeithot on precisely the same weight terms as they meet on Saturday? For what it’s worth, Hartford hosted Champion Jockey, Anthony Delpech over the Election holiday, and he believes only altitude can deny Thandolwami his due. Some recommendation from a world class rider.
The fact is, Summerhill graduates make up 25% of the field in what is one of the richest races in the nation, and that tells you all you need to know about their upbringings.