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DESERT LINKS to make Singapore debut

desert links horse
desert links horse

Desert Links : Canon Gold Cup 2008

(Photo : John Lewis)

Group 3 $200,000 Jumbo Jet Trophy

The 3200m Canon Gold Cup (Gr1) kicks off the new South African racing season on Saturday and it’s fitting that champion of the 2008 renewal, Desert Links, should embark on his Singapore campaign exactly a year from that historic day.

On Sunday 2 August, the son of Kahalwill line up in the weight-for-age Group 3 $200,000 Jumbo Jet Trophy over 1400m, for trainer David Hill and jockey Mark Gallagher aboard.

Thoroughbred News Singapore reports that David Hill is filling in as caretaker-trainer of Desert Links until Basil Marcus takes up his Singapore training post next year.

David Hill and Basil Marcus have a long history together having teamed up in Hong Kong during the 1990’s, when Hill was in the training ranks and Marcus a leading jockey.

Desert Links arrived from Dubai with trainer Herman Brown in May, when Jay Peg was in town to defend his Singapore Airlines International Cup crown. He was left behind for Basil Marcus to take over as trainer upon his arrival in Singapore.

The gelding has been in David Hill’s yard just shy of two months and to date hasn’t been asked to do anything too strenuous, although he did catch the eye with a good second in a 1000m trial on July 21.

“He’s been in my stables from around the middle of June,” said Hill. “He hasn’t been asked to do anything too strenuous to date. He’s just been out to do some long slow canters and he’s had one trial to sharpen him up a bit. He was finishing the trial off quite nicely and I’m hoping he will be doing the same in his race on Sunday.”

“I am a little concerned whether he is fit enough to run, but I thought the seven furlongs (1400m) would be a good race to start him off in. I just hope he doesn’t blow out in the straight. If he does then I’ll have to give him quite a bit more work.”

David Hill said he was quite taken with Desert Links who is a seven time winner in South Africa including two wins at “black type” level.

“He looks like a racehorse and importantly performs like one,” said Hill. “The hardest part is trying to get a guide on his form, but he certainly looks the part anyway.”

Following Sunday’s race, David Hill said he would look at stepping Desert Links up in distance in an effort to get him to his ultimate goal, the Group 1 Singapore Gold Cup over 2200m in November. He explained that Desert Links would target the new “Classic” races aimed at getting more stayers into Singapore.

“There will be some nice races for him in the lead-up to the Gold Cup,” said Hill. “Those new staying races that the club will be putting on will be ideal for him. I hope that he can pick up some prizemoney along the way before I hand him over to Basil, so in the meantime I’ll just keep him ticking over through to the Gold Cup.”

Desert Links is a five-year-old by Kahal from the Home Guard mare Selborne Park. He arrived in Singapore with a rating of 97 and has raced on 22 occasions in South Africa and Dubai, registering seven wins and a further three second placings over distances of 1600m up to 3200m.

SINGAPORE'S PREMIER RACEDAY : The South African Challenge

 Mythical Flight
Kranji, Singapore, 15 May 2009
(Photo : Singapore Turf Club)

Defending Singapore Airlines International Cup Champion, Jay Peg, will jump from stall five in Sunday’s feature event at Kranji, much to the delight of trainer Herman Brown.

“It’s a good draw and gives us plenty of options to ride close to the pace, as he normally does. A lot will also depend on how quick the horses on the inside go,” said Herman Brown.


In 2008, Jay Peg sat quietly in second spot before sweeping into the lead for a dominant victory in the 2000m showcase race. The European Bloodstock News reports that the handsome bay has failed to win since and has run below par in three starts since undergoing knee surgery, most recently finishing down the course behind Gladiatorus and Presvis in the Dubai Duty Free.


Mike de Kock’s charge, Bankable, will jump from stall three and is considered a possible danger to Audemars Piguet QE II Cup winner and race favourite, Presvis.

“That’s great,” said Mike de Kock’s assistant trainer Trevor Brown following the draw. “He (Bankable) is versatile with a good turn of foot and he’s had a good preparation.”


Sean Tarry, was left shaking his head in utter disbelief when his speed merchant, Mythical Flight, came away with barrier 11 for the 1200m KrisFlyer Sprint, where defending champion Takeover Target, well drawn on the inside, is the likely favourite.


“It’s a shocker. I’ve said all along we’ll be in trouble if he draws double digits,” said Sean Tarry, who was hoping to draw as close to the rail as possible but added, “We’re here to race. We wanted an inside draw, which can be vital here, but he has very good gate speed, he’s looking well and moving well.”


Former South African trainer Patrick Shaw, now based in Singapore, was also left deflated after drawing stall nine for local hero, the undefeated three-year-old, Rocket Man, owned by old friend of Summerhill, Fred Crabbia.


“Yes, I’m disappointed with the draw but we have to move on now. It’s not the end of the world but it makes his (Rocket Man) job a bit harder,” said Patrick Shaw.


The Australian-bred Rocket Man is the highest rated galloper in Singapore and his wins include both the Kranji and Singapore Three-Year-Old Sprints this season. Rocket Man is a half-brother to the Charles Laird-trained Gr1 winner Our Giant.


Summerhill Stud wishes all the South African connections “Voorspoed” and the greatest success on Singapore’s premier raceday.

Jay Peg sends stopwatches flying in Singapore

Jay Peg
Kranji, Singapore, 14 May 2009
(Photo : Singapore Turf Club

The final countdown to the 2009 renewals of the Singapore Airlines International Cup and KrisFlyer International Sprint has begun.


This morning’s trackwork session at Kranji racecourse wound down to a sedatory pace, with most runners having already concluded the bulk of their preparations.


Interesting news from the Singapore Turf Club is that the only candidate to send stopwatches flying was the Herman Brown-trained 2008 Singapore Airlines International Cup winner, Jay Peg, who put a broad smile on his South African connections with a solid hit-out on the Polytrack, underlining his spot-on condition ahead of the $3million race. A bullish assitant-trainer Nicolas Iguacel could not resist sending out an ominous warning after the workout: “More than ready to defend his title!”


Jay Peg winning the
2008 Singapore Airlines International Cup Gr1


New Zealand Ready To Run Sale defies odds

graeme rogersonLeading buyer Graeme Rogerson
(Athlone Thoroughbred Marketing)

New Zealand Bloodstock reports that the 2008 New Zealand Ready To Run Sale of two-year-olds which ended yesterday at Karaka, achieved solid results which largely defied the international financial crisis.

Both the sale median and average were only a shade off last year’s figures, with the median price reaching $60,366 (down just 1% from a record $61,134 in 2007) and the average $33,000 (down 8% from $36,000 in 2007).

The clearance rate climbed steadily throughout the day to finish at 67%, down from last year’s 70%, with 247 horses sold for $14,910,500, compared with $15,100,000 for the same number sold last year.

Tuesday’s top price of $400,000 for the Red Ransom colt from Lady Circles was not surpassed, with yesterday’s top lot knocked down for $360,000. The Zabeel colt from group one winner Surprize was purchased by Queensland bloodstock agent John Foote from Mark and Shelley Treweek’s Lyndhurst Farm.

“I’ve bought him for a Hong Kong client and as yet we haven’t decided whether he’ll race in Australia first or go straight to Hong Kong,” said John Foote last night.

“He’s a well-bred colt, a lovely type and breezed up with a good action. We’re hoping he’ll be as good as his mother and father.”

The Zabeel colt breezed up the 200m straight at Te Rapa racecourse on 20 October in a time of 11.72 seconds.

Of the 247 horses sold, 17 fetched $200,000 or more compared with 14 last year, showing the relative strength at the top of the market.

New Zealand Bloodstock’s sales and marketing manager Petrea Vela was very pleased with the results after uncertainty created by the financial crisis.

“In view of the challenges facing everyone in the current market conditions, the results of the past two days have really been well in excess of our expectations,” she said last night.

“Heading into this sale we were certain that results would be down on last year, but to see such strength from the market here has been a fantastic result.”

Leading the buyers was transtasman trainer Graeme Rogerson with eight horses purchased for $1,625,000. A total of 49 horses are destined for Singapore, including purchases by former Kiwi trainer Laurie Laxon, Michael Freedman, Stephen Gray and Soon Hock Lee, with another 18 bought for Hong Kong.

Fourteen headed to Malaysia and five to Macau. The Seoul Racehorse Owners Association bought a further six yesterday to bring its total to 16 horses now bound for Korea.

The leading vendor for the second year in a row was Mark and Shelley Treweek’s Lyndhurst Farm, with 11 of its 15 entries selling for $1,706,000 at an average of $155,091.



Tokyo welcomes the World at 32nd ARC

Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges presents “New Strategies for new Global Challenges”
(Photo : Asian Racing Conference)

The 32nd Asian Racing Conference in Tokyo officially got underway with a lavish Opening Ceremony providing the fireworks on Monday evening.

The conference has returned to Japan in style after a 23-year absence, with the ceremony spearheading what should be four days packed with debate and deliberation during six plenary sessions and three selective sessions that will further galvanize thoroughbred racing in Asia - and the rest of the world.

The ARC has grown leaps and bounds, with a delegation of 850 from 33 countries and regions taking part in the highly anticipated meetings this week.

The ceremony was highlighted by a bit of ancient Japanese theatre, a flag-bearing procession of the 22 member nations of the Asian Racing Federation - which spread its wings to two new members earlier on Monday to the Saigon Racing Club from Vietnam and the Jockey Club of Russia - and a speech from the honourable Shigeru Ishiba, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries which oversees the Japan Racing Association.

For daily reports, audio and photos visit :



Verdict : JAY PEG puts the doubters to bed

Marsh Shirtliff and Team (AP Photo / Wong Maye-E)

There were two issues surrounding Jay Peg’s performance in the $ 3 million Singapore Airlines Cup (Gr.1) on Sunday. The first concerned the merit of his win in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (Gr.1) at the World Cup meeting in March, and whether or not that was something of a fluke. And the second involved the question of his “nationality” going into Sunday’s big event.

As far as the first question is concerned, his convincing 2.5 length victory on Sunday left his doubters in no doubt at all about his merit, particularly as the field included one that had run second to Archipenko in last month’s Queen Elizabeth Cup (Gr.1) in Hong Kong, as well as at least one quality Australian performer with Group One form.

In a race in which the pace was on at one helluva lick from the off, Jay Peg stalked the leader at a distance of some six lengths, and then, about 600 m about home, Anton Marcus let the reins out a notch, and whoosh! he was away. The harder they came from behind, the harder Jay Peg went, and he hit the line at a growing distance of more than two lengths, much to the joy of a not insignificant contingent of South African connections.

We mention his South African connections because there was some consternation before the race at a suggestion that he be entered as a representative of the United Arab Emirates, where he has been based since his departure from South Africa. Of course, he is South African-bred, South African owned, South African-trained, and he was South African mounted on Sunday, and there was nothing other than his preparation to suggest that he belonged anywhere else, so it was with some relief that racing fans in this country found they had a live candidate in the race.

The ecstasy in the grandstands was palpable, as Marsh Shirtliff, Etienne Braun, Paul Loomes and Selwyn Marcus embraced each other in a rare display of unbridled emotion, while one had to acknowledge the professionals involved in this horse’s career to date. It was an all-Marcus affair, with brother Basil Marcus having selected the horse as a yearling and trained him while he was involved in the domestic programme at home, brother Anton Marcus was abroad and brother Selwyn Marcus was among the owners. In sending the horse to Herman Brown Jnr for his Dubai and Singapore campaigns, the Marcus family were acknowledging a decades-long relationship between them and the Browns, when young Basil, (as he was then), was stable jockey to Herman Brown Snr in one of the most successful partnerships in racing history.

The son of Camden Park was bred and raised at Ken Truter and David Hepburn-Brown’s High Season Stud near Hermanus, and was a R140 000 yearling of his year, a far cry from the well over R40 million he has since earned at the races.

The entire Summerhill and Vuma teams salutes the achievements of this grand horse, who once again did the nation proud. From one champion team to another, we extend our warmest congratulations.




Herman Brown's JAY PEG charges home in Singapore Airlines International Cup

Anton Marcus and Jay Peg (AP Photo/Wong Maye)

Jay Peg has claimed his second Group 1 victory of the year, winning the Singapore Airlines International Cup at Kranji after tasting success in the Dubai Duty Free in March. 

Australia’s Fox Sports reports that the South African star, ridden by Anton Marcus, settled in second place before overhauling long-time leader Chevron and winning from Recast and Balius.

“The horse was sweating so much before the race that it unnerved me,” winning trainer Herman Brown said of Jay Peg, who defeated Darjina in Dubai.

“But I felt pretty confident down the straight, and Anton gave him a beautiful ride.”

Jay Peg, a dual Group I winner in his native South Africa, winning the Cape Guineas and Derby, is now expected to be spelled before being prepared for the Group I W.S. Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in October.

Herman Brown has also mentioned the Group I Melbourne Cup as a potential target for his stable star.




HERMAN BROWN ready for Singapore Airlines Cup


Record-breaking Gr.1 Dubai Duty Free hero Jay Peg heads a maximum field of 16 for Sunday’s Gr.1 Singapore Airlines International Cup at Kranji.

The son of Camden Park arrived from Dubai in fine fettle and will be reunited with jockey Anton Marcus, who rode a masterful race in the Duty Free despite suffering a saddle slip during the race. Herman Brown mounts a two-pronged assault on the S$3 million race, with recent acquisition Mourilyan (Desert Prince) making his debut for the stable under Weichong Marwing.

Formely trained by John Oxx, the Aga Khan-bred colt scored successive victories in Dubai this year before a runner-up effort in the Gr.3 Dubai City of Gold . The four-year-old most recently finished unplaced in the Sheema Classic.

Sunday’s opponents include Japan’s Cosmo Bulk, who finished first and second in the last two runnings of the 2000m race and New Zealand’s multiple Gr.1 winner, Sir Slick.