Not since Capetown Noir six years ago has the winner of the Matchem gone on to land the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate but so impressive was One World’s finishing kick in Saturday’s Durbanville highlight that you would have to think that the double might well be achieved this season.
This is a horse who, don’t forget, has only ever been beaten twice in his life and on this occasion he snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in a manner seldom seen since Jonah emerged from the mouth of the whale.
The Truter colours could be seen uncomfortably far back early on and halfway up the straight you could name your own price. Even 100m out the 53-20 shot was only fifth yet he flew home like Pegasus to beat Search Party by four-tenths of a length with the favourite Undercover Agent a length and a quarter further back third.
Victory was particularly sweet for M.J Byleveld who had been forced by injury to hand over all last season’s triumphs on this horse to Anton Marcus. “My plan had been to have him handy but he didn’t have the speed and they went too quick for him,” Byleveld related. “At the 300m mark they started coming back to me and, once he lowered, I knew I was going to win. It now looks like being an exciting season!”
This was the third Matchem in 15 years for Vaughan Marshall who promptly outlined plans: “There are a couple of opportunities coming up including the Cape Mile (Nov 9) and the WSB Green Point (Dec 14) but the Queen’s Plate is obviously the main one.”
African Warrior, only fifth in his bid to become the first three-year-old Matchem winner since Variety Club, finished close enough – and well enough – for Dean Kannemeyer (who won the last with Captain Elliodor) to decide to aim him at the Cape Guineas.
Front And Centre started odds-on for the Diana Stakes and, although those who backed her had a few nervous moments a furlong out, a couple of confident pushes from the man on top was all it took to settle the issue. “Helen’s Ideal (third) had a soft lead and so I didn’t want to give her too much start,” Greg Cheyne related. “The pace was only average – given the class of the race I thought it might have been a bit stronger. Front And Centre is not wound up yet and she has a lot of upside going into the season.”
This was the first Diana victory for Brett Crawford and he has yet to win the Majorca but avenging last season’s third is an obvious objective for him and the Kiewswetters. The combination were also on the mark with Kelpie in the Betting World Handicap after the in-form Cheyne shrewdly chose this one in preference to unplaced favourite Flame Tree.
Freedom Charter, off since May and a little considered 16-1 chance, was only beaten half a length in the Diana and an understandably pleased Candice Bass-Robinson said: “She has matured into a lovely sort and she will now go back sprinting for the Sceptre Stakes and a couple of races before that.”
Robert Bloomberg had already worked out plans for Cane Lime ‘N Soda even before Byleveld brought the three-year-old with a strong run to lead inside the final furlong of the New Turf Carriers Handicap and beat the older horses – “The Racing Association Mile in P.E., Cape Guineas, CTS sales race on Sun Met day and Cape Derby,” he said.
It was quite a day for Marshall and his stable jockey and they kicked off with Fynbos making up four lengths in the final furlong of the mile maiden to delight breeder and part-owner Peter de Beyer. He had been surprised when he failed to get a meaningful bid on his R600 000 reserve when she came up at the big CTS sale just days before her half-brother Last Winter went close in the Met.
The Snaith stable continued their seemingly unstoppable march through the maidens with Camp David and Sovereign Secret (the latter the first winner for Pete and Janet Carolin) while stable jockey Richard Fourie produced a fine turn of foot to take the jockeys race.
The crowd was big by present-day standards – “It’s like the July,” quipped one official – and events officer Clinton Theys promptly predicted that “this meeting is going to grow and grow.” Certainly it augurs well that so many children found the racecourse such an enjoyable experience.
By Michael Clower