Some top horses have raced in the colours of Mary Liley, one the springs to mind being Queen’s Plate and Champion Stakes winner Bold Monarch back in 1979. She has had some good horses since but none as good, until maybe yesterday.
The lightly raced gelding Tristful gave notice that he will be a horse to be reckoned with over the last few months of the season but as Tony Rivalland, caution, “the pressure’s on now,” after the gelding scored an eye-catching win in the Gr3 Byerley Turk at Greyville yesterday.
Sean Veale rode a faultless race as he tracked a slow early pace set by Solid Gold, but when he asked for an effort, Tristful responded with a smart turn of foot.
“You haven’t seen the best of him yet,” said Veale. “Wait until he goes 2000m, that’s his game.”
Given those words, Tristful will probably go the traditional route for three-year-old males, the KZN Guineas, Daily News 2000, and all going well, a possible tilt at the Vodacom Durban July.
The July is still 88 days away and a lot can happen in the interim, but Liley and Rivalland got proof yesterday that they are in with a shout at least.
Temple Grafin, winless since The Debutante at the end of last season, opened her seasonal account in the Gr3 Umzimkulu Stakes under another tremendous ride from Anton Marcus. Inching his way into a challenging position from his outside draw, Marcus had Temple Grafin within striking distance coming off the false rail and the filly came forward gallantly to outgun Santa Clara and Silvano’s Pride.
Richard Fourie had no hesitation taking favourite Silvano’s Pride to the lead and she set a strong pace, tracked by Santa Clara who had the run of the race. These two hooked up at the top of the straight with Santa Clara slowly wearing down her rival, but neither had an answer to the late challenge from Temple Grafin, Glen Kotzen’s filly getting up close home.
Champion jockey Lyle Hewitson is making a bold attempt in defence of his title and took the lead ahead of Muzi Yeni and Anton Marcus for the first time this season with a double at Fairview on Friday. He added to his lead by winning the first on Elnora for Wayne Badenhorst but not before having to survive an objection.
In the lead, Hewitson pulled his stick through to his right and Elnora took exception, shifting sharply onto the well-fancied Rose Dance.
Sean Veale objected on the grounds of interference in the latter stages, but although he was well within his rights, the stipendiary board ruled that Rose Dancer would not have got past the winner and the result stood.
Ishnana, bred and owned by Robert Smith, finally snapped a string of second places with a superb victory in the fourth where he took on a really smart field.
Drawn wide, apprentice Luke Ferraris was hard pressed to get the gelding to settle early on, but once in behind runners he dropped the bit nicely as Calvary set off at a blistering gallop.
Not for nothing was Garth Puller nicknamed “The Headwaiter” when he was a jockey, often pouncing late when all looked lost, and he would have been proud of Ferraris. Last into the straight, he shot through a big gap and Ishnana pulled him through to win smartly.
By Andrew Harrison