Paul Lafferty’s Summerveld yard are going all out to hang on to their lead in the Hollywoodbets Sizzling Summer Challenge.
Every race in KZN from the beginning of December until the end of February counts towards the competition. The points gathered for each race, whether a Grade 1 or a maiden, is dependent on the number of horses in the field and the finishing position. If there are ten runners in a race the winner will get ten points, the runner up nine points and so on all the way down to the tenth placed finisher who will get one point. If there are seven runners in the race then the winner gets seven points, the runner up six etc. The points are awarded to the relevant trainer, jockey and horse.
At the end of the competition the top six trainers, jockeys and horses will split respective prize money of R250,000 apiece.
The top trainer, jockey and horse will each receive R100,000.
Lafferty led the trainers table after yesterday’s Scottsville meeting with 447 points. Breathing down his neck were Garth Puller and Alyson Wright on 429 and 414 points respectively. Dean Kannemeyer, Duncan Howells and Dennis Drier were next best on 337, 324.5 and 314 respectively.
Lafferty’s assistant trainer Roy Waugh revealed that a virus which had plagued the yard for a long time appeared to have been conquered and the horses were currently performing well.
He said, “It was the most insidious virus, I have never see anything like it, and it hit us for about a year. They think it is a herpes virus, but they are not sure. The horses become anaemic overnight and it was very hard to get rid of. We ended up spraying virus-cides everyday, then we started vaccinating with rhinopneumonitis every three to four months. The symptoms were subtle and the horses didn’t look bad or train bad but they would then run twenty lengths below their form. If you could, the right thing to do was to just stop racing. This would allow them to recover and get their immunity back. If you brought them back too quickly they would get it again. So we haven’t seen the virus since October but we have had to build the horses up again and get them fit.”
The yard is thus on an upward curve and, for Hollywoodbets Sizzling Summer Competition purposes, the horses are coming well at the right time.
The yard had a winner yesterday but so did Puller and the pair joined Kannemeyer on the most winners during the competition, seven.
Dennis Drier would likely have started favourite for the competition but it falls at the wrong time as he has a string down in Cape Town. Drier’s assistant trainer Stuart Ferrie said the yard welcomed any points gathered for the competition but they were taking things as they came and not doing anything out of the norm to try and win it.
Anton Marcus and Warren Kennedy, amazingly enough, were locked together at the top of the jockeys table after yesterday’s meeting on a tally of 657 points apiece. Keagan de Melo is hot on their heels on 653 points.
Marcus increased his lead early in the meeting when winning the first on Heroic Victory, the first leg of a double on the day for Gareth van Zyl. Warren Kennedy fought back by winning the second on the Gavin van Zyl-trained Living Waters but Marcus then won the third on the Glen Kotzen-trained Imperial Rage. However, Kennedy rode in all eight races while Marcus only rode in four and this allowed the former to close the gap.
The Lafferty-trained Bint El Malak won for the second time third time in four runs during the challenge yesterday and she leads the horse table on 55 points, 15 clear of her stablemate Explosive Beauty. The Darryl Moore-trained Forest Jump rose to third place on 38 points courtesy of her runner up finish in the first race.
Meanwhile, the Lafferty yard’s three best horses, Dark Moon Rising, Sniper Shot and Share Holder, are gearing up for the SA Champions Season.
Dark Moon Rising carries topweight of 62,5kg in Sunday’s LIsted Michael Roberts Handicap over 1750m at Scottsville.
He is returning from a three month layoff.
Waugh said, “He is doing alright. He is carrying a lot of weight and the distance is a bit short of his best but he will run a decent race, he will be there or thereabouts. It’s his comeback run but he runs well fresh.”
Share Holder is close to full recovery from a nasty foot injury.
After winning his debut back in February he managed to pull his “whole quarter off.”
He is still running with bar shoes and Waugh reckoned that only with his next shoeing will the foot have fully grown back.
He finished unplaced yesterday over 1200m in a Novice Plate.
However, the strapping Australian-bred colt by Zoffany should be right by the time of SA Champions season features like the Grade 2 Daisy Guineas.
Sniper Shot has been doing well and is due to make his comeback in March.
By David Thiselton