Class told yesterday as Sunset Eyes ran out a comfortable winner of the Gold Circle Podcast Handicap at Hollywoodbets Greyville. Competitive at the highest level, the three-month break was of minor concern for Brett Crawford’s runner and his supporters.
Taking the ‘golden highway’ as Anton Marcus has dubbed the outside of the Greyville synthetic track, the six-year-old went to the line virtually unchallenged.
Elusive Heart chased shadows for second with the lightly weighted Hey Boy staying on for second. Fillipo, expected to make some impression, folded early to finish out with the washing.
The question of soundness is of major concerns for trainers. Vets bills are an unwelcome attachment to training bills, but find a solid and sound horse and you have a ‘champion’, no matter what the horse does to make it to the top.
Big King, an eight-year-old gelding, turned the tables on the three-years younger Mutawaary when landing the fifth. Greg and Karen Anthony’s gelding winning his seventh race from 40 starts.
Multiple champion Marcus is not a man to be run down easily but Joshwin Solomons, son of Western Cape jockey Morne Winnaar, came from a long way back on the Dennis Drier-trained Dune Dance to out-point race favourite Captain Of Colour when the race looked all over.
Jason Gates is one of the more driven apprentices in the SA Jockey Academy. “He even wants to win barrier trials,” commented one trainer who was looking for an easy introduction to the track for his charge.
With that in mind, one would do well to take cognisance of all Gates’s mounts although Dust Storm gave little early notice that he was a contender in the card opener.
Gates had ridden Garth Puller’s charge in both his barrier trial and one debut, finishing down the field in both outings. A four-year-old that pulled up lame on debut, it was little wonder that he started at 45-1 yesterday but finished like an even money shot.
Favourite James Peter, later reported to have pulled up lame, and visiting Touch Of Fate set quick early fractions and when James Peter fell away, Touch Of Fate looked set for victory. But Gates coaxed a finishing burst that took Dust Storm past his rival.
Warren Kennedy started the day 20 winners clear of nearest rival Greg Cheyne in the jockey championship, and although there is still a long way to go before the cock crows, Kennedy rarely goes a meeting without a winner. He restored some confidence in favourites with a hard-fought victory on Arianos Spinner for Robbie and Shannon Hill, holding off a game challenge from At Your Request, having her first run for Dean Kannemeyer.
Desolate Road looked very much the best bet on the card in the third but Anton Marcus earned his riding fee as he was hard-pressed on Tony Rivalland’s gelding to keep The Master at bay.
Lowly Fillies and Mares Handicaps are notorious for results that don’t necessary correspond with current form although Je Na Sais Quoi’s win was not entirely unexpected as she was going over her prefer trip. Up from the Western Cape, Glen Kotzen’s filly was given a pipe-opener from a poor draw on her KZN debut, but sent over 2000m yesterday, Stuart Randolph waited until the final furlong to pull the trigger and Je Ne Sais Quoi responded with a burst of speed to overhaul Abbey.
By Andrew Harrison