Move over Andrew Fortune – you have competition when it comes to post race television interviews. Aron Xabendlini, riding What A Captain in the work riders’ race at Scottsville yesterday, played to the crowd, and for whatever reason it was jam-packed for a mid-week meeting in the Capital.
Egged on by presenter Dees Dyanand and clearly not short of a word or three, Xabendlini had onlookers cheering.
“That’s what makes racing so much fun,” said one grizzled veteran. “I wish the whole world could see this.”
The paddock held more supporters than before the Gr1 Tsogo Sun Sprint and although the race was run without incident barring a slight scrimmage out of the gates, there were a few out-of-breath riders on their return.
Mike de Kock, who saddled the winner, was quietly amused. “The only thing I told him was not to go to the front,” he commented halfway through the race as What A Captain, Great Stohvanen and Be Happy cut out the pace. He need not have worried, Xabendlini had it all under control and he got home with nearly two lengths to spare.
Anton Marcus, still in the hunt for the championship behind Yeni and Hewitson, booted home a quick double for Glen Kotzen, Prince Of Persia taking it up early and running hard to the line chased by Quant Master with the filly Talia Al Ghul being run out of it late after showing early toe.
First season sire Wylie Hall has got off to a fair start from limited opportunities, Poinciana his fourth winner from 17 runners to date. It was the Kotzen / Marcus show again as Poinciana took up the running a long way out to comfortably hold the first timer Baby Shooz, who raced in ear muffs, and Krishnies Jet.
Dean Kannemeyer shows little emotion when watching his runners and he hardly twitched a muscle as Silva’s Fling finally landed the odds in the Natal Property Consultants Maiden. With the blinkers removed, he kept rolling relentlessly to out-gun the year younger Knight Warrior and Brilliant Disguise.
Kotzen was looking for his third of the afternoon as Luna Child and favourite Golden Chance fought a desperate finish to the fifth, a short head in it at the line.
The stipendiary stewards called a race review that was upgraded to an objection after Hewitson had a cursory glance at the patrol film, objecting on the grounds of intimidation in the latter stages.
If anything, he was the chief culprit in the coming together so it came as no surprised when the protest was over ruled.
Donovan Dillon is a welcome addition to the KZN jockey ranks after deciding to re-locate from Cape Town. He was side-lined for two months after suffering a knee injury in a starting stalls incident but is now back to full fitness. He scored a double for Shane Humby at Greyville last week but most punters will not have been too enamoured with his win aboard Wendy Whiteheads Rocking Ruby in the sixth, a 55-1 chance on the books and paying R63.80 on the ‘nanny’.
Expedite was a top division sprinter in the Cape who won 12 races back in the late seventies, but the filly of the same name is no sprinter and came up short of giving Glen Kotzen and Marcus a treble for the afternoon in the seventh over 2000m. Marcus looked to have timed his run on the top weight to perfection as Expedite took the lead a furlong out, but Ella’s World under Gavin Lerena for Dennis Bosch, kept grinding away to out-run her rival when it counted.
Kannemeyer was back in the winner’s box for the last as Seattle Kid scored a narrow victory over rank outsider Sherman. Stand By Me had the call through the 400m marker and fighting hard, but his condition gave out in the battle for the line as Sherman took it up, only to be out-gunned late by the faster finishing Seattle Kid.
By Andrew Harrison
Image: Golden Chance (yellow) Lunar Child (black) – Candiese Marnewick