Fort Wood legacy lives on
PUBLISHED: January 26, 2015
The great Mauritzfontein Stud champion stallion Fort Wood died over the weekend and although his loss will be sorely felt his legacy will live on.
Mary Slack, the daughter of Mauritzfontein founders Harry and Bridget Oppenheimer, spoke sadly of the loss having just won the Gr 1 Betting World Cape Flying Championship on Saturday with her Mike de Kock-trained filly Alboran Sea.
Fort Wood will be best remembered as the sire of the great De Kock-trained Triple Crown and J&B Met hero Horse Chestnut, who is widely regarded as the best racehorse to have ever set foot on South African soil.
Horse Chestnut was one of Fort Wood’s amazing first crop that contained two other Gr 1 winners, Fort Defiance and the filly Dog Wood.
Horse Chestnut was one of three Horses Of The Year that Fort Wood produced. The other two were the Geoff Woodruff-trained Celtic Grove and the great Dean Kannemeyer-trained Dynasty, who is regarded by many to have put up the best ever performance in the country’s premier race, the Vodacom Durban July, winning from draw 20 despite running wide and fighting for his head throughout.
Dynasty is currently leading the National Sires log and Horse Chestnut has been doing well since being brought back from the USA and is in 21st place. Other Fort Wood stallions standing at stud are Whitechapel and Elusive Fort.
Fort Wood has always produced fantastic daughters and is currently leading the national broodmare sires log.
He gained a reputation as a breeder of stout horses, but this might be due to the renowned strength and courage of his progeny, as he has imparted plenty of speed too. In all he produced over 75 individual stakes winners, including 15 Gr 1 winners.
He also became known as a notable sire of sand performers. Two of his sons, Hilti and Iron Curtain, won the country’s richest sand race, the Gr 2 Emerald Cup, and another of his sons, Pylon, achieved the highest ever sand merit rating accorded in South Africa.
Fort Wood was bred in the purple being by one of history’s greatest stakes producing stallions, Sadler’s Wells, and being out of the eight-time winning Pretense mare Fall Aspen, who produced eight Group winners in Europe and America.
His promising career on the track in France, where he was trained by the legendary Andre Fabre and owned by Sheikh Mohammed, was curtailed by a fractured sesamoid as a late three-year-old by which stage he had won three out of six starts, including a courageous Gr 1 victory over ten furlongs and a Gr 2 win over eleven furlongs.
Accolades for the amazing 24-year-old bay have poured in since the news broke on Saturday.
Elley has team in a good place
PUBLISHED: January 26, 2015
The Stan Elley-trained Punta Arenas was the surprise package of last year’s J&B Met, running third at odds of 125/1 despite jumping from draw 13, and after being one of the picks of the Met gallops last week he could be worth including in the trifecta again from a similar draw.
The six-year-old Silvano gelding worked with Big Cat at last Thursday’s Met Gallops and looked to be one of the big race’s most relaxed runners, striding out freely and enjoying himself. Elley said, “Our emphasis at this stage is always to have a happy horse, as the work has been done and the horse is fit enough.” He spoke about last week’s gallop, “It was the same as last year’s gallop and also his July gallop as he worked beautifully and really enjoyed it. So we were delighted and I think he is peaking at the right time.”
Last year Punta Arenas easily found a handy position in a moderately paced race and after swinging on the bridle clearly enjoying himself throughout he stayed on resolutely to finish just 1,95 lengths behind the pacemaker and winner Hill Fifty Four. Regarding his draw of 12 and the apparent lack of pace in Saturday’s race, Elley said, “I’m looking on the positive side, he is drawn one better than last year! I am not sure there is going to be no pace as I believe Astro News might have been entered as pacemaker. Legislate tugged in the Queen’s Plate and I believe they will want to prevent a repeat.” Astro News, interestingly, was only supplemented for the Met after the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate, despite having had no outings in any Cape Summer Of Champions Season feature races this season.
Elley believed Punta Arenas would enjoy a good pace. He said, “He likes to run at them and in the Peninsula (over 1800m where he ran a 3,85 length fifth) he was a bit handy with topweight. He will be better off at the weights with all of the horses that beat him in the Peninsula and whatever happens he won’t be far back in the Met.” Big yards dominate the placings in big races in South Africa, but Elley is one of the few to have broken the trend this century, running third in the Vodacom Durban July with Red Badge in two successive years (2003 and 2004). Punta Arenas’ third last year is Elley’s best Met achievement, although he had fourth place finishes with both Red Badge in 2003 and with Kapil in 2009. All of Punta Arenas, Red Badge and Kapil run in the colours of passionate owners Mike Fullard and James Drew.
Punta Arenas was ridden by Grant van NIekerk last year, but Aldo Domeyer, who won the big race on outsider Martial Eagle two years ago and rode Punta Arenas to third in the Gr 2 Peninsula Handicap over 1800m last season, will be aboard on Saturday.
Elley has three other lively runners on the day, including Dynastic Power who runs in the Gr 2 J&B Urban Honey Stayers over 2800m, a race he won in 2005 with Red Badge.
However, he said that his best runner on the day would be Pecan Nut, who runs in the 11th race, and he was also “bullish” about the chances of Big Cat who runs in the 10th.
The improving four-year-old Pecan Nut followed two comfortable wins over 1800m and 2000m respectively with a decent 5,2 length eighth in the Gr 1 Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes over 1800m on January 10.
Elley said, “Pecan Nut was a bit out of her depth last time but didn’t run badly at all. Big Cat worked with Punta Arenas at the Met Gallops and actually needed that little gallop so will be spot on after his workout on Tuesday. I was delighted to have secured Piere Strydom for the ride as he will suit Big Cat’s style down to the ground. Dynastic Power was kicked behind the stall before his last start, he only had a little scratch, but was scratched from the race. That was a pity as it would have peaked him but we have put a bit of work into him and Aldo (Domeyer) is very pleased with him. To be honest I have been a bit disappointed with Dynastic Power this summer, especially in the Cape Summer Stayers, but he had to run through the middle that day and things didn’t really go his way. Theoretically he is not well weighted on Saturday but without a doubt has the class and will stay every inch of the trip.”
Pecan Nut carries second top weight in a MR 90 handicap for fillies and mares over 1800m and will be ridden by Greg Cheyne from pole position.
Big Cat also jumps from pole position in a MR 96 Handicap over 1600m over his ideal 1600m trip.
Dynastic Power is officially 3,5kg under sufferance with the best weighted horse Coltrane, but he has always struck as one who could be better rated than his current 93 merit rating, as he proved when beating J&B Met contender Power King in last year’s Gr 3 Winter Derby over 2400m at level weights. His barrier four draw is a bonus to his chances and the astute Aldo Domeyer knows him very well having ridden him ten times, including in his Winter Derby victory.
Snaith happy with Legislate
PUBLISHED: January 26, 2015
Durban July winner Legislate came out of last Thursday’s public gallop in good shape and he is very much on course for the J & B Met on Saturday.
That was the message at the weekend from Justin Snaith who a week ago was advising punters against backing the horse following his infection-caused flop in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.
Snaith, confirming that he is happy with the colt’s condition, added: “Legislate put up a good gallop and he seems fine but I would still caution anybody about betting on a horse this far away from a race. There are so many variables and anything can go wrong even an hour beforehand.
“A lot of horses have their little niggles and you never know until you get to the race, although the good thing with Legislate is that I know what was wrong with him. I’m doing my best to make sure I have him ready on the day but the proof of whether I’ve got him right will be in the result.”
Legislate, as short as 9-10 at one stage, is 28-10 third favourite with Betting World which has Futura heading the market at 2-1 and Louis The King on 5-2. It is 12-1 and upwards the rest.
Act Of War seems certain to start odds-on for the Investec Cape Derby and he pleased Joey Ramsden when ridden by Andrew Fortune in a spin at Kenilworth on Saturday.
Ramsden said: “He went with Disco Al (Anthony Andrews) and they galloped a mile. He went very well.”
Stable companion Kingvoldt was scratched for the Cape Thoroughbred Sales Stakes because of an “abnormal blood count.”
Ramsden explained: “He had a nasty virus after the Queen’s Plate. It knocked him for six and I couldn’t get the count right. He will go to Durban for sprint races.”
The Durban season is also next for Jet Aglow who has been scratched from Saturday’s Klawervlei Majorca after picking up what Dennis Drier believes is the same bug that hit Legislate and Futura.
Drier said: “I hadn’t fancied a horse as much for a long time as I did with Jet Aglow in the Paddock Stakes but Sean Cormack said she ran flat. We found she had an infection in her trachea.
“She had given me no indication beforehand. I took her blood on the Monday before the race and it was fine. But apparently this infection has a 10-14 day incubation period and you don’t know they have it until you run them when the stress of the race brings it on.”
Records tumble at CPYS
PUBLISHED: January 26, 2015
A Dynasty colt out of a full sister to Silvano smashed the South African record for a horse at public auction when knocked down for R5.2 million at the Cape Premier Yearling Sale in the Convention Centre last Thursday evening.
The buyer was top game breeder Piet du Toit, a comparative newcomer to racing, and he had to overcome spirited opposition from the likes of Markus Jooste and Coolmore’s Paul Shanahan before auctioneer John O’Kelly brought the hammer down on the handsome bay from Maine Chance Farms.
The colt was named Standpoint in the catalogue and Shining Knight on the results sheet but Du Toit intends renaming him Tsunami, not after the disaster that killed so many a decade ago, but after his West Zambian Sable antelope bull whose progeny apparently sell for more than a racehorse!
Mike Bass, who will train the colt, said: “Wehann Smith (the Kuda Insurance boss who signed the docket) brought Piet down and they asked me which I would like to buy. I told them that this Dynasty colt was my pick of the sale.”
Du Toit also bought a Trippi filly for R2.5 million, helping the average to soar 12.5% to a record R644,118 while the median rose 14.3% to R400 000 and the aggregate was nearly 17% up at over R120 million.
Cape Thoroughbred Sales boss Adrian Todd said: “This was the most impressive draft we have had so far and so I was expecting a decent increase. For me, though, what was outstanding was that the records were created by new entrants into the game.”
Some of the more established buyers admitted to finding it hard going. “Very tough,” was John Freeman’s verdict. “When I looked at the catalogue I knew it was good and when I saw the horses I knew it was quality.”
Jehan Malherbe added: “It was very strong and difficult to buy at the top end because there were more buyers than nice horses.”
Computaform next for Alboran Sea
PUBLISHED: January 26, 2015
Alboran Sea will attempt to become the fourth horse this century to win both the Cape Flying Championship and the Computaform Sprint in the same year.
Mike de Kock announced his plans for the Australian-bred daughter of Rock Of Gibraltar after the three-year-old had given him his first win in the Betting World-sponsored Grade 1, bravely holding off the sustained challenge of Captain Of All by the width of a Tote ticket in a time only 0.07 sec outside the course record.
He said: “She has very good acceleration and in the Southern Cross last time she led which was exactly the opposite to the way I wanted her ridden. I think the Computaform Sprint will be next followed by one or two races in Durban including the SA Fillies Sprint at Scottsville. I will have to talk nicely to Mary and see if we can then get her on a plane out of here.”
Mary Slack, who owns her in partnership with Michael Javett (joint-owner of the legendary Politician), didn’t seem quite so keen on the last bit and said: “I’m always nervous about running them again when they have done so well.”
It was announced over the public address that this was De Kock’s 100th Grade 1 win but the actual total is 102. For a long time the trainer’s website omitted two in 2010 – Mother Russia’s Empress Club and Gluwein’s dead-heat in the Majorca – but the mistake has now been corrected.
Almost a third of those Group 1s were ridden by Weichong Marwing who led over two furlongs out, far sooner than he or de Kock wanted.
He explained: “I wanted to be one or two lengths off them and I thought Trip Tease would last longer but his speed wasn’t good enough for this filly. I had to open my deck of cards and allow my horse to use her action.”
Interestingly both he and Sean Cormack on the runner-up flashed past the post convinced that Dennis Drier’s 9-2 chance had beaten the favourite.
The strongly fancied Fly By Night could finish only a disappointing seventh and Mike Bass said: “She had an infection in a joint a week and a half ago. She had to go on antibiotics and I couldn’t work her or prepare her properly. Going down to the start I could see that she wasn’t comfortable on it.”
Normanz had his stalls cert withdrawn. He delayed the start by bursting through the gate and breaking his breastplate. He became restless when reloaded and lost four lengths.
Brutal Force recouped R500 000 of his R4.5 million purchase price by just fighting off Zambezi River in the Cape Thoroughbred Sales Stakes and will doubtless be relieved to be shot of the ‘most expensive horse’ millstone. But he might not be so happy to learn that further cuts are planned.
Joey Ramsden said: “He will definitely be gelded. I know it’s a shame but at 600kg he wouldn’t survive otherwise.”
Markus Jooste’s 4-1 winner was the third leg of a treble for Piere Strydom who also scored on Music App and Perini for Darryl Hodgson and Hassen Adams.
- Alboran Sea (right) holds on from Captain Of All – Cape Flying Championship (Liesl King)
- Brutal Force (right) fights off Zambezi River (Liesl King)