Chantyman, who wanders around his yard like a pet dog is a terrier on the track, making short work of a quick field in the African Holly Handicap (Non-Black Type) at a blisteringly hot and humid Hollywoodbets Scottsville yesterday.
Obviously a stable favourite, both Dennis Bosch and rider Anton Marcus were enamoured with the win. “He has the nicest disposition and one day will make someone very happy,” said Bosch obviously referring to the gelding’s retirement from the hard grind of the racecourse. “I’m not usually an emotional person,” said Marcus. “But this horse is close to my heart. He can’t breathe, you should hear it, (when under pressure in races) but he gives it his all.”
Chantyman has only twice been out of the money in 18 starts and yesterday’s win was one of his easiest.
It was always going to be a quick race with the likes of Effortless Reward and Calvary in the line-up, so Marcus tracked the pace on the outside where Calvary, with his 4kg claimer up, was cutting the pace. Pressing Chantyman to keep up with the pace a long way out, the cards folded up front and Chantyman was singing the right tune a long way out as Marcus geared him down to a comfortable win without calling for any extra encouragement.
Earlier, Brilliant Disguise was most pundits best bet on the card and he duly obliged, rollicking home under Marcus and leading from the jump. He went down to the start sporting red ear-muffs, now standard equipment for horses that may get upset in the preliminaries but removed at the start.
They worked a treat for Brilliant Disguise who ghosted to the start and was hardly off the bit in the race.
“He’s a bit hot,” said Duncan Howells, “but if we can keep his temperament under control, he will win a few.”
It was from high to low come the second for Howells as favourite Trip To Africa trailed in last. Solid Gold set a smart pace under Serino Moodley under instruction from Michael Roberts and the regally-bred son of Rock Of Gibraltar was never in danger. “He has a few issues at the gate,” confirmed Roberts when quizzed on the gelding’s temperament, “but otherwise he’s fine. You must just let hm do what he wants and Serino gets on well with him.”
Trip To Africa jumped awkwardly and was reported lame after the race.
Whether you are an owner, trainer or punter, close finishes are what make this sport what it is. Winter Retreat, in front, then behind and then in front, will have had many hearts pumping. In front for much of the race, replacement rider Gareth Wright got the best out of Shane Humby’s filly when it counted, snatching the decision on the line as the hard-charging Electric Surge was short-circuited one jump before it counted.
It was a trying afternoon for Marcus and more pertinently Robbie Hill, with Electric Surge beaten on the line and Moon In June and Marcus suffering a similar fate next up.
Red Al and Arizona Sunset looked to have it wrapped up going down the inside rail, but Escape Club and Moon In June roared home on the outside rail to run them out of it two jumps from the line.
Apprentice Denis Schwarz, out of his time after a five-year stint at the South African Jockey Academy, has been making a name for himself with a steady supply of winners for Gary Alexander and more recently with a variety of high-profile Highveld trainers as he has honed his talents.
He indicated that he will be a regular visitor to KZN and did his reputation no harm as he guided Celebration Rock to a narrow, if somewhat fortunate, win. “He’s not a horse that you can boss around, you just have to let him do it on his own,” said Schwarz.
Possibly unluck was Letaba who ducked off a straight course under relatively inexperienced apprentice Joshwin Solomons, but to his credit, he did gather his mount and come for a second bite, only to be denied by a piece of paper.
Beaten in a couple of close-up finishes, it was not all gloom and doom for Marcus who rounded off the meeting with a quick double, bringing his afternoon total to a healthy four wins as he obliged on favourites Divine High and Han Solo to round off the day.
By Andrew Harrison