Armando may have run his last race in South Africa. When Brett Crawford trained Elusive Gold for a Tony Millard client the horse stayed here until he had won the Cape Guineas but Crawford, after watching the Lammerskraal-bred What A Winter colt put up a performance in the Cape Of Good Hope Nursery that had Guineas written all over it, expressed doubts about history repeating itself.
He said: “I am waiting to hear from Tony and Mr Ng but, now that Armando has proved that he is Group winner, it’s more than likely he will get going for Hong Kong.”
Understandable – that is what he was bought for – but he won as if he could put the Cape Nursery a bit more on the classic map and Bernard Fayd’Herbe was impressed, saying: “He won a gutsy race. The horse of Vaughan Marshall’s (Fearless Warrior) is decent. I picked him up about the 300 and I thought I would have him quite easily but he went on again.”
By this stage Fayd’Herbe was in the sort of inspired form that does not countenance defeat. His five-timer embraced the last four races and he had already landed the Kenilworth Fillies Nursery on 61-20 shot Cousin Liz who also had a Marshall-M.J. Byleveld fancy as her principal victim.
“I knew it was going to be hard to hunt down Mirage (the 22-10 favourite) because M.J. had a length and a half on me,” Fayd’Herbe related. “Mine got tired in the last bit but she is a smart filly, a sprinter.”
Candice Bass-Robinson, who has now won half the six runnings of these two nurseries in the three seasons she has been training, is optimistic that the Captain Al filly will get further. “I am sure she will try a mile and I hope she will get it but she does have a lot of speed.”
The situation is complicated – and clouded – by soundness issues. “She has a knee problem. It was tough getting her here today and I couldn’t get a run into her.”
Marshall and his jockey might have suffered Group reverses but they unleashed a good’un in the first In Silver Operator who had the bookies running for cover – he was backed from 9-1 to 11-10 – and came away from a furlong out to score by three and a half impressive lengths.
“You can see from the betting that we did fancy him,” confirmed Marshall’s assistant Adele Alsop. “This is a super, super colt.”
Byleveld added: “His work was magnificent and I thought it would take a very good horse to come and fetch him. It’s early days yet but he is something to look forward to.”
Greg Cheyne was the only other jockey to get a look-in, deputising for the sidelined Donovan Dillon on the Geoff Woodruff-trained last gasp winner Retro Effect and following up on Sacred Arrow who initiated a Bass-Robinson double in the Tellytrack.com Handicap.
By Michael Clower