Calypso Beat went into the notebooks at Kenilworth on Saturday even though it was his jockey who stole the show, amazing his audience with one trick after another like a conjurer at a children’s party.
It was straightforward enough for Greg Cheyne on the R1 million Querari in the 1 000m maiden fillies. The 57-20 favourite took an early lead and proved far more superior to the opposition than the eventual two-length verdict would suggest.
“I got out smartly and at the 600m she found her feet, pricked her ears and took the bit without me asking – always a good sign,” Cheyne reported.
Brett Crawford, who has handled more stars than a pop singer’s agent, was impressed, saying: “I think she has a future and she is going to be much better when the ground is on top.”
Cheyne teamed up with Crawford again five races later to take the Interbet.co.za Handicap on Ikebana for the Gujadhur Mauritian training family. But this was genius stuff. Well inside the final furlong, with Grant van Niekerk on It Is What It Is two lengths clear and showing no sign of stopping, Cheyne switched the 3-1 favourite out of the narrowing gap between the leader and the rails and challenged on the other side. Amazingly, his mount ate up a seemingly impossible amount of ground and swept past to win a shade comfortably.
“Grant got first run on me and then he closed the gap,” Cheyne related. “People might say I was a bit cheeky at the end but I could feel the momentum – Grant’s filly had come to the end of her run while I was going away.”
The Cheyne fan club also attracted a whole host of new members in the previous race, the 2 000m Tellytrack.com Handicap, when he lulled the opposition into a false sense of security by setting a modest pace on the Andre Nel-trained Crome Yellow but, when they tried to come at him in the straight, he kept unleashing the reserves he had kept up his sleeve.
“The race was given to me,” he said, modestly playing down his masterclass. “My horse came out of the gate with his head in his chest and the others left me alone.”
Van Niekerk had to wait until Sleeping Single in race five to get off the mark – “The way the first few races went I thought ‘Oh God, I’m an embarrassment to Hong Kong.’” Not for long though as he also won the last for former boss Candice Bass-Robinson on Machiavelli in the Marsh Shirtliff colours.
However the Hong Kong man took only three rides to renew his acquaintanceship with the boardroom, being fined R1 000 for using his whip more than the permitted dozen on runner-up Yosma. The fine means little more to a man of his earning capacity than a car park tip does to the rest of us and surely the time has come for the NHA to substitute suspensions if it really does mean business about over-use of the whip.
Jockeys earn R4 500 for winning the most minor Cape Town race and, if they believe exceeding the limit will turn defeat into victory, they are effectively staking a grand at 9-2 on what they think is a certainty. All they lose is their stake.
Justin Snaith, trainer of Sleeping Single, sprang a 10-1 surprise in the first with Bravura’s three-parts brother Sachdev but the one that got away was 13-20 hotpot Winter is Over, only fifth to Craig Zackey and Geoff Woodruff’s Brother Louis in the mile maiden. “I am going to go back to the drawing board with him and try to find out what went wrong,” said the mystified trainer.
Joey Ramsden, still buoyed by Dynasty’s Blossom’s eLan Gold Cup and last season’s successful campaign (“with only 40-plus horses it was pretty special”), got off the mark for this term with the Ossie Noach-ridden Celtic Voyager.
By Michael Clower