Charles has had a R6 million bill hanging over his head all his racing life but, while removing his stud potential eliminates his long-term earning capacity, seemingly it is going to be the making of him as a racehorse.
“He was gelded in August as soon as he got back from Durban,” relates Brett Crawford. “Since then his whole attitude has changed. He is not playing around anymore and he is now focussed on what he is doing.”
Punters were expecting the old Charles – good enough to get placed but not to win – and were happy to let him drift unbacked from 11-2 to 10-1 in the Tellytrack.com Pinnacle at Durbanville on Saturday but from Keagan de Melo’s position the picture looked very different. “I was always going well,” he said. “Everything seemed to be slowing up 600m out and, when I managed to get a couple of lengths on them, I knew I was going to win.”
For the horse’s trainer equine psychology is now the deciding factor in future plans. “To win, drawn ten out of ten over a trip that was his shortest, was impressive but I have got to build up his confidence.
“He is only rated 111 and so he is far behind the 130-plus stars. There is a mile coming up next month (Cape Mile) and if he wins that well we will take on the old guns in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and the Sun Met.”
If Charles was a revelation Twist Of Fate was a disappointment. Last into the parade ring, he looked in the picture of health, albeit a bit big round the middle. The money poured on him from 17-10 to 17-20 and he raced handy. But when Stuart Randolph started riding two furlongs out the response was nil. Indeed he weakened to finish fifth. To be fair, he was giving away lumps of weight and it was his first race for nearly three months.
“He needed it,” said the jockey. “Turning into the straight he began to labour a bit but he will come on from this.”
Snapscan had been off just as long but there was confidence behind her – she shortened from 9-2 to 26-10 – and she led 100m out under Louis Mxothwa for a convincing win in the TAB Telebet Conditions Plate. Like Charles she set a new class record.
“She has run in staying feature races to get black type,” said Glen Kotzen. “We will go the soft route with her to start with and run in the Victress (Dec 21) but if she wins that we can look at the Paddock Stakes.”
Justin Snaith clocks up the winners so fast that he is past landmark after landmark with nobody noticing – including himself. His tally now stands at 2 635, an incredible average of 146 a year since he started training in 2001.
He and Richard Fourie chalked up three more on Saturday with Aye Aye, Wild Coast and the wandering Winter Is Over.
Sandile Mbhele is nearing a landmark of his own as he needs just five more winners to lose his claim after scoring on Spy for Vaughan Marshall. However the talented 21-year-old’s personal schedule has been put back a week with an interference suspension.
Donovan Dillon is making the most of his flying visits from Durban and he scored on How And Why for Eric Sands and the well-backed Brett Crawford-trained Khopesh in the last.
By Michael Clower