Mercurana now hunting for gold

PUBLISHED: 02 March 2020

Vaughan Marshall

It’s seven years since Bass Racing last won the eLan Gold Cup with Jeppe’s Reef but Mercurana may well attempt to bridge the gap on July 25 after this half-brother to Marinaresco laid down his credentials in the Kenilworth Cup on Saturday.

That he did so was largely due to the talent, bravery and blatant opportunism of Sandile Mbhele who launched his mount through a totally inadequate gap with all the dash and determination of a Springbok scoring against the All-Blacks.

Still last at the furlong marker, he went for an opening barely wide enough for half a horse, shouldered aside Troop The Colour and pipped gamble-of-the- race Swift Surprise (9-1 to 11-4) on the post. “I took a tight gap and a huge risk,” Mbhile admitted but the stipes, perhaps in admiration of his courage, let him get away with it.

The Fred Green, Marsh Shirtliff and Bryn Ressell-owned winner was the 45-1 outsider of the field and at 77 he could be a bit low in the handicap for the Gold Cup, even in its present Grade 3 format. But the handicappers can be expected to solve that particular problem when they review the race today.

Candice Bass-Robinson said: “He was way under sufferance (9kg) but there was nothing else for him so I thought I might as well have a bash – and I will probably now take him to Durban for the staying races.”

But Lemon Delight, her first two-year-old winner of the season, will stay at home for the juvenile fillies features despite Aldo Domeyer’s glowing report of the R20 000 bargain buy’s potential.

He said: “This filly gave me a very similar impression to Magical Wonderland (Sceptre Stakes) and, when I asked, she kept responding.” The Flower Alley filly carries the colours of Tony Rhodes and is the first winner part-owned by Albery Stokes and his wife as well as, surprisingly, by the trainer.

Vaughan Marshall has Tsogo Sun Gold Medallion ambitions for No Laying Up who scored at the first time of asking under M.J. Byleveld in the other two-year-old race – “He is well above average, has shown some decent work at home and will be better over 1 200m.”

Justin Snaith is calling for more opportunities for work riders and, speaking after Siphiwe Madalana had impressed no less a judge than Stan Elley on Cyber Blossom in the first, he said: “These guys are the backbone of South African racing and I have become reliant on mine.”

He added, carefully excluding Richard Fourie and Bernard Fayd’Herbe from the comment: “My work riders are better than most of the jockeys who come and ride work in the mornings. I would like to see a competition between the best work riders and the jockeys – and it wouldn’t be hard to find a sponsor.”

A freak accident on the way to the start of race three – Fayd’Herbe somehow hurt his back and later went to hospital for a scan – saw Paddy Kruyer successfully reunited with Anton Marcus on Savea in the 1 200m handicap.

Kruyer recalled: “Anton finished off his apprenticeship with me and rode for me for a time afterwards. We had a lot of success together.”

Katak, bought privately for R20 000 by Piet Steyn, followed up his first time victory under Grant Behr by taking the finale but this time Behr was fined R1 000 for breaching the whip limits.  Keagan de Melo continued his rich vein of Cape Town form when the Paul Reeves-trained Photocopy made amends for last time’s bad luck by just holding off the Marcus-ridden Hudoo Magic in the TAB Telebet Handicap.

By Michael Clower