Millard targets Derby

PUBLISHED: 06 January 2020

Tony Millard

Parterre may have Tony Millard’s Hong Kong stable on his long-term agenda but a more immediate objective is next month’s Cape Derby following his success In the Handicap at Kenilworth on Saturday.

Brett Crawford, whose yard is now sponsored by Interbet, said: “The Politician on Sun Met day would probably be the right route but I will have a good look at it because the conditions are a bit funny [although a Grade 3 the weights are largely determined by merit rating] and I need to make sure that he is well in.”

Tony Millard
Tony Millard

This was the middle leg of a Crawford treble and Count Jack, who spearheaded the stable’s one-two in the last under Keagan de Melo, will also be seen next on Met day – but in his case the considerably more lucrative CTS 1600 with R5 million split between the first five.

Smart William, ridden like Parterre by Corne Orffer, kicked off the treble when odds-on for the Maiden Handicap. But he fly-jumped as the starter pressed the button, was left three lengths and only caught the pace-setting King Saladin in the dying strides. “Absolutely nerve-wracking – particularly at my age!” exclaimed owner Cheryl Gabler who has had to be ultra-patient with this horse – he sat out the whole of his two and three-year-old careers after fracturing a pedal bone.

Warren Kennedy has not got where he is today – top of the log and heading towards a first championship – by getting things wrong but apparently the Cape crawl caught him out when Miraculously Ours started favourite early last month. “He came in saying he didn’t ride that very well,” recalled Glen Kotzen but the four-year-old repaid the losses – punters’ as well as the owners’ – when justifying odds of 15-10 under Morne Winnaar in the TAB Telebet Handicap.

In the days before wooden rails were largely replaced by plastic, scribes were apt to write of winning jockeys riding so close to the inner that they came back with paint on their boots. Usually it was no more than literary exaggeration but when Sandile Mbhele returned on his winner number 57 – Mario Ferreira’s well backed (12-1 to 13-2) White Lace – interviewer Grant Knowles pointed out the tell-tale evidence of contact with the rails. “It was a terrific ride,” said an admiring Vaughan Marshall, “but he was damn lucky he didn’t go over them.”

Marshall also won the 1 200m maiden with the M.J. Byleveld-ridden Speed Of Night but some of the gloss was taken off Ken and Jane Truter’s celebrations by the filly being suspended for 60 days for bursting a blood vessel.

Bernard Fayd’Herbe made it look a good deal easier than it actually was when getting the Dennis Drier-trained Perfect Air home by a head in the 2 000m handicap – “With her 61.5kg weight I felt I would have to track M.J. (Fynbos) but I thought he would pull me through longer than he did,” explained the jockey. “And I knew that Richard Fourie (Rattle Mouse) was coming for me.”

Greg Cheyne, Kennedy’s nearest pursuer but some 30 winners adrift, had no such problems on Proclaimer in the first. He was well clear from before halfway and the 7-4 favourite came home under hands and heels to give Candice Bass-Robinson and Ridgemont the honour of Cape Town’s first winner of 2020.

BLOB Orffer, Fourie and Grant Behr were each fined R 1 000 for using their whips more than the 12-stroke limit and Anthony Andrews was fined R1 500 for the same offence. If the National Horseracing Authority officials mean business with this rule they need to look at it again. The present version is not working.

By Michael Clower