A trio to watch
PUBLISHED: February 4, 2015
Summerveld trainer Alistair Gordon has a feeling that Assegai loves the polytrack and, together with stable jockey Alec Forbes, has chances with him and two other runners at Greyville on Friday night. Forbes also has a great chance of opening the meeting with a winner on the Dennis Bosch-trained Seek The Summit.
Seek The Summit, by Elusive Fort, was slow away on debut over 1000m at Scottsville but came through smoothly to finish just 2,5 lengths in second behind the promising Roy’s Goddess. She is now drawn well in five in the fillies and mare Maiden Juvenile over 1000m and is not only one who has created the best visual impression, but also comes out strongly on formlines.
Bosch believed that Seek The Summit would be fine on the poly and would have no problem with the start. He said he doesn’t “push” his young horses, so she would have come on nicely from that debut run less than two weeks ago.
Gordon has the hard knocking Right Approach filly Donna Amata in the second, a fillies and mares maiden over 1400m, where she is drawn nicely in six. She returns from a break of over seven months, but Gordon said, “She has had plenty of work and is light framed so, although she might just need it, she is certainly not unfit. We have worked her on the poly and Alec actually thinks she will be better on this lighter surface.” She doesn’t have a great deal to beat and it would be no surprise to see her getting off the mark.
Gordon’s useful four-year-old Ashaawes gelding Assegai’s only defeat on the polytrack has been to the impressive Gemini Gold, who is undefeated in three starts on the surface. That was in a comeback run over the too sharp 1400m and he then reeled off two victories over the more suitable 1800m.
He settles well and has a lovely rhythmic action, but does have to overcome a four point merit rated raise in tomorrow’s seventh race, a MR 90 Handicap over 1900m, and looks set to fight it out with Warcraft and Kentucky Guest, who both make plenty of appeal too.
Gordon give Highly Regal a “shout” in the last, a maiden for fillies and mares over 1900m. Being by Ideal World she should be improving all the time and will relish the trip. She was a bit out of her ground over 1900m at Scottsville last time, but stayed on nicely for fifth and the form of that race has worked out very well.
She has 0,75 lengths to make up on Mariah Ann from that race. The latter did have a few excuses and appears to be improving, but there is a reversal of draw fortunes here in favour of Highly Regal. The favourite could well be Noor Dubai, who is bred to enjoy this step up in trip, but she doesn’t have the biggest action, which could be an off putting point in a race this far.
The two apprentice handicaps might be the two stumbling blocks on the card, but it would be no surprise to see Callan Murray claim a double with the two topweights Live Controversy and First Flight respectively.
Lead Picture: Alec Forbes
Exciting times ahead for Drier yard
PUBLISHED: February 4, 2015
Maestro Summerveld trainer Dennis Drier and his string will make their way back from Cape Town today, having ended their campaign on a high note with two winners and a feature race second at the J&B Met meeting at Kenilworth on Saturday, and the yard has a lot to look forward to as they have a host of exciting horses in the yard.
Triptique is a smart looking three-year-old colt by Trippi and completed a Kenilworth 1200m hat-trick on Saturday under Sean Cormack. He won by an impressive two lengths despite carrying topweight in an open MR 80 Handicap and having to jump from a high draw, which was unfavourable on the day. Drier said, “He has done nothing wrong and is getting better and better. I am hoping he can stay further so we might look at the Scottsville 1400m feature race as a pointer to whether we can aim him at the Guineas.”
His other winner on Saturday was the three-year-old Horse Chestnut filly Balkan, who carried 57,5kg to victory in a MR 86 Handicap for fillies and mares over 1000m, her first victory in three outings in Cape Town. Drier said, “She has had a lot of niggles but only had one disappointing run and that was the real Balkan on Saturday.”
Drier’s two-year-old Seventh Rock colt Seventh Plain gave 3kg to the classy looking Justin Snaith-trained Australian-bred Buckinghampshire and only lost by 1,25 lengths in the Listed Sun International Juvenile Stakes over 1000m. Drier said of the rangy bay, “He’s an exciting colt and I think the Snaith’s colt might be a sprinter whereas Seventh Plain is looking for 1400m and a mile.”
Gathering Fame is a four-year-old filly by Jet Master who has won three out of five starts to date. Drier’s string was struck down by travel sickness after arriving in Cape Town last October and she was the worst hit. However, she recovered to win the Listed Jamaica Handicap over 1700m, meaning she is now unbeaten since being stepped up from sprints to a mile and beyond. Drier said, “She is way above average. We will be speaking to Mr Rattray before mapping out a nice plan for her.”
Art Deco is an eyecatching three-year-old filly by Dynasty and relished the step up to 1600m in her third start after two excellent placed efforts in sprints. She romped home in a maiden plate over 1600m on the Greyville polytrack.
The three-year-old Judpot gelding Oh Boy came from a long way back in the running on debut over 1200m at Scottsville to just get up and is another who will likely relish further.
The three-year-old Argonaut gelding Sea Fever impressed with his superb, rhythmic action when converting odds of 1/3 in ever so easily over 1200m at Scottsville on Sunday.
Drier said about these three three-year-olds, “They are still coming through the ranks, but they look pretty exciting.”
The four-year-old Jet Master gelding Space Launch is unbeaten in two starts for Drier, both over the Kenilworth 1200m, having had only one placed run before that. “He is really exciting,” said Drier.
Three of Drier’s established stars are Captain Of All, Generalissimo and Jet Aglow.
The four-year-old Captain Al gelding Captain Of All went within a whisker of ensuring the yard would bring home a Gr 1 trophy from the Cape for the fourth season in a row when denied in a head-bobbing finish by Alboran Sea in the Betting World Cape Flying Championships. Drier can still scarcely believe he lost and said, “He has come out of the race fantastically. The long break we gave him did him a world of good, it was a complete break, instead of stop go, stop go. Markus (Jooste) and Derek (Brugman) allowed it and thanks to them he is now over his niggles.”
Drier has discussed a possible tilt at the Gr 1 Computaform Sprint with Jooste’s racing manager Derek Brugman, but it has not been finalised.
The three-year-old Var colt Generalissimo broke the Kenilworth 1200m course record in his only victory in Cape Town. In his other starts he didn’t stay the trip of the Gr2 Selangor Cup over 1600m and then finished lame on his near fore in a 1000m contest. Drier said, “He is very well. I don’t think he stays and is young so the Computaform might be too soon. Maybe next year.”
The five-year-old Jet Master mare Jet Aglow won the Listed Jet Master Stakes over 1600m during her Cape campaign, but was then found to have an infected trachea when running a disappointing fifth in the Gr 1 Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes. Drier said, “It was going around Phillippi, but she is now totally over it.” Her obvious targets will be races like the Gr 2 Tibouchina, the Gr 1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes and the Gr 2 Gold Bracelet.
Fortune back in action
PUBLISHED: February 3, 2015
Andrew Fortune returns to action for the first time in nearly three months at Kenilworth today when he partners Around Not Across for Joey Ramsden in the Futura Maiden Plate.
The 47-year-old former champion has only had six rides this season and but he has ridden two winners, both on Miss Saigon. He has been similarly carded up since only to have to cry off because he couldn’t get light enough to take the ride. His mount has 60kg here and Fortune has told Ramsden that he will get close enough to ride.
The money has already poured on and, after opening 12-10 favourite with Betting World on Monday, the three-year-old was down to 1-2 by yesterday afternoon. He has not been seen since September when he started hot favourite at Durbanville only to over-race.
“He had two twisted testicles so he was gelded and he then had a nasty foot abscess,” says the trainer. “But we have got him fairly right.”
The obvious danger is 7-2 chance Seattle Kat who went close over this course and distance last month and, like Fortune’s mount, is having his third start.
Nordic Wind, scratched from the Listed race on Met day because she had been coughing, should be hard to beat in the opening Maiden Juvenile Plate. She ran on strongly after starting slowly on debut and went into the notebooks of many punters, including James Goodman on Winning Ways.
But don’t overlook Just Felicity who also ran well on debut and is fancied by Greg Ennion. “She is a smart little filly. Her first run was the first time she had seen grass and she would have run the winner close had she not raced green,” says Ennion. “She shows a huge amount of ability at home.”
Mohammed Allie and Hilaria are overdue a win and, with Sean Cormack riding out of his skin, the 16-10 favourite should be able to beat Provenance (5-1) in the Legislate Maiden.
Yalla Habibti has a big chance at 7-1 in race four if you are prepared to forgive her last run when her rider reported that she was not striding out freely and when the racecourse vet said she was blowing hard.
“I couldn’t find anything but she is a small filly with a choppy action,” says Eric Sands.” She needs to be covered up and I think she just saw too much daylight.”
That said, Captain’s Dove has more obvious credentials, particularly as she again drops in trip, although you won’t get rich backing her at 8-10.
Svala (already backed from 9-2 to 3-1) is the only newcomer in this race and Yogas Govender says: “The trip will be a bit short for her but she has ability.”
Finally Good Grace stands out in race eight after running so well on debut. Unfortunately the value has already gone and you can’t now get much more than 9-10 (she opened at 14-10). Her first run was packed with promise.
Lafferty to open Dubai stable
PUBLISHED: February 3, 2015
Summerveld trainer Paul Lafferty will soon be opening a new chapter in his colourful life as he plans to open an international stable in Dubai.
The yard will have small beginnings, but Lafferty is partly inspired by the example set by Herman Brown, whose highly successful Dubai operation that ran for a number of years this century never had more than 15 or so horses.
Lafferty’s Gr 1-winning Equus champion Harry’s Son will be one of the founding members of the international stable. He and his team are also looking out for a quality international horse in training to accompany the Australian-bred colt. His Summerveld assistant trainer Roy Waugh has also been talking to a few international owners in the meantime in order to bolster the numbers.
Lafferty is gregarious by nature and has always been a team player. This distinguishing trait was honed during his years as a professional footballer with Durban City. He now aspires to be like the peerless Mike de Kock, who has become internationally famous and has been able to run yards in all of Dubai, Newmarket in the UK, Randjesfontein and Summerveld due to the fantastic team he has built around him. Current champion trainer Justin Snaith provides another example. Snaith’s main role is to train and take care of horses as all other duties required to run a successful yard are divided between the other expert members of his highly professional operation.
Lafferty already has an excellent team in place and for a small yard it is noticeable how often they send out feature race runners. He has had Gr 1 winners through Harry’s Son and Love Struck in both of the last two season’s as well as a Gr 1 third place through Admiral’s Eye. Other horses to have flown the yard’s flag high in recent times have been the Gr 2 Gold Circle Oaks winner Goat, the Gr 3 Peninsula Handicap winner Pinero and the Gr 3 Southern Cross Stakes winner Oracle News.
Besides Harry’s Son the yard currently have some useful types that include the Gr 3 Flamboyant Stakes runner up Goldie Coast, the five-time winner Garibondy, the up and coming three-year-old fillies Flying Loot and Pearl Emblem and consistent older horses like Auction King and Double Clutch.
Lafferty has loyal and dedicated staff. Head grooms Vusi Ndlovu and Paulos Ntali are two of the most important members as they have both been with the yard since it started out in 1987 and have become experts in horse care and nutrition. Assistant trainer Waugh is a trainer in his own right having had a lot of success in the USA. Dereck Ramsay is the efficient behind-the-scenes member of the team and takes care of the yard’s financial, accounting and administrative duties and he has also developed the yard’s communication and social media outlets into polished processes. Ramsay is one of Lafferty’s many staunch friends from his schooldays and runs a successful IT business. He did not get there without determination and is laying out the plans for the yard’s ambitious future with equal zest.
Lafferty would not have done as well as he has done in recent times without this skilled and dedicated team behind him as he has built up Gary Playeresque air miles in staying close to his wife and daughters, Jan, Amy and Holly, who all live in the UK. Behind Lafferty’s happy-go-lucky exterior is a highly committed father and the many hats he has worn in racing from training at Summerveld, to TV presenting, to directorship of Gold Circle, Chairmanship of the Trainer’s Association and at one stage having a successful satellite yard in Port Elizabeth have all been aimed at raising his profile and stakes in order to secure the future for his daughters.
His high profile helped him recently land the position of South African Ambassador to the Magic Millions Sales company in Australia, a role which has seen the many global friends and connections he has made over the years increase tenfold. Being well known on the international scene means he will have already accomplished the first step towards his overseas ambitions.
His daughters have reaped the benefits of his and his wife’s dedication and Amy recently qualified Cum Laude at Oxford University, while Holly is currently headgirl at one of the top private school’s in England, St. John’s in Leatherhead.
Lafferty’s travels have sometimes been negatively perceived, but teamwork is what training is all about these days and the current team have all embraced his ambitious plans with keen anticipation.
Waugh helped Herman Brown set up a yard in Chantilly at the outset of his Dubai sojourn and spent time with him in Dubai for many seasons. This coupled with his experience of dirt tracks in the USA will see him taking to the current Dubai racing climate like a duck to water and he will be a natural as one of the new yard’s chief components. Therefore Lafferty will soon be looking for a Summerveld assistant trainer to replace Waugh.
Lafferty has never been short of energy and has a renowned sense of humour so it is a certainty that he will add a lot of colour to the Dubai racing scene.
Dynasty and Trippi lead the way
PUBLISHED: February 3, 2015
Dynasty and Trippi look set to fight out the National Sires title after their respective progeny, the Brett Crawford-trained Futura and the Mike Bass-trained Inara, both completed back to back Gr 1 victories at Kenilworth on Saturday.
Bloodstock agent John Freeman not only owns a share of the L’Ormarin’s Queen’s Plate and J&B Met winner Futura, but is in the rare positon of managing both the first and second placed stallions on the current national sires log, Dynasty and Trippi respectively.
Freeman also manages Captain Al, who is right up there in fifth place on the log.
He purchased Dynasty as a yearling and was later responsible for syndicating both him and Captain Al.
He has shares in all three of the above-mentioned sires.
Freeman recalled, “Dynasty has extremely well balanced proportions and superb looks and temperament. If you had to make a mould of how a stallion ought to look, he would be it. He also has incredible movement.”
Freeman said about the now four-year-old colt Futura, “He is very much his father’s son. The most valuable asset Dynasty passes on to his progeny are his elastic stride and his heart.”
Dynasty, a 1999-born colt by the late great Fort Wood, was trained by Dean Kannemeyer and won nine of his twelve starts. He won four Gr 1s in successive races in 2003, the Cape Derby, the South African Guineas, the Daily News 2000 and the Vodacom Durban July.
Freeman, in recalling the purchase of Dynasty, began, “I was a great admirer of Fort Wood, his progeny were so outstanding you couldn’t miss them.”
However, Dynasty’s grandsire Commodore Blake was considered an off putting point for all except Freeman.
He said, “People didn’t understand Commodore Blake, so Dynasty was hard to assess. Nobody knew that Commodore Blake was trained by Sir
Michael Stoute, who told me the horse could run very well. He had a timeform rating of 123. He was imported by the Bloemfontein-based Jane Wessels so I knew the horse well as I am a third generation racing man and the racing community used to be small. Commodore Blake only averaged 15 foals per crop in a short stud career in South Africa. But the key to Dynasty is that Commodore Blake was by the English Derby winner Blakeney out of Ribamba, who was a half-sister to the classic winner Bruni (who won the St. Leger by ten lengths). Commodore Blake’s grandam is a close genetic relative of Horse Chestnut. I liked the pedigree and it has proven to be good.”
Freeman recalled that even prominent owner Jack Mitchell, who is today one of Dynasty’s biggest supporters at the sales, had decided to “pass” when offered a share in Dynasty after the yearling sales, because although he loved the horse he was not sure about the Commodore Blake angle. Today Mitchell has a share in both Futura and another top Dynasty colt, the Equus Horse Of The Year Legislate.
Dynasty was owned during his racing career by John Newsome’s Fieldspring Racing, who also owned the champions Free My Heart and Rabiya.
Freeman was Fieldspring’s trusted bloodstock agent in South Africa and he recalled that there was once an offer for Dynasty after his July win of an incredible US$5 million. The prospective purchaser could not believe that this amount could be turned down for a South African-bred and Freeman had replied, “It’s simple, he’s not for sale because we want to breed with him.”
This turned out to be a wise decision, because his stud value would far surpass that figure today.
The Highlands Stud-based Dynasty recently broke the record for the highest priced horse sold at a South African sale when a Maine Chance Farms-bred yearling colt, out of a full-sister to the champion sire Silvano, was knocked down for R5,2 million.
The top former trainer Herman Brown Senior, respected for his vast knowledge of thoroughbreds, commented that in 63 years of attending sales he had never seen a better yearling. He said that this Dynasty colt had resembled a three-year-old and also spoke of his excellent legs.
The Drakenstein Stud-based Trippi remains the most expensive thoroughbred ever imported to South Africa and Freeman is adamant that a stallion of such quality would never have been landed had it not been for the financial crisis in the USA.
Trippi’s numbers are now the equal of Dynasty and his success this year lies in his amazing three-year-olds, the best of whom is the Maine Chance Paddock Stakes and Klawervlei Majorca Stakes winning-filly Inara. Trippi is leading the three-year-old national log.
Freeman said that initially Trippi’s progeny had been viewed as “forward” types and he consequently broke the South African record for having the highest number of two-year-old stakes winners with his first crop.
Freeman said, “That was initially his undoing, but trainers now understand not to rush them and give them the time they deserve and the rewards are coming.”