Pace is always a key to the outcome of any horse race and most will argue that a genuine gallop usually sets it up for the best horse in a race. Pace, or the lack of one, is one of the first factors jockeys, trainers and astute punters look towards when planning strategy but even then, things can go awry.
A case in point was the third at Hollywoodbets Greyville yesterday as the entire field may well have dropped back to a canter had Stuart Randolph not taken action and let Wildlife Safari off the bit and speed up what was looking like a funeral procession.
The move almost paid off but both Favour and Room At The Top finished with a wet sail to run Wildlife Safari out of it in the last few jumps.
It was a lesson learned from the previous race with another dawdling pace in the early fractions but fortunately for favourite backers, Dickens finally put it all together to break his string of runner-up places.
It was the first win on the day for Johan Janse van Vuuren who notched a treble with Ginger Biscuit and What A Thrill rounding off a successful afternoon for the Highveld-based trainer.
Two of those, Dickens and What A Thrill, were the mounts of Keagan de Melo with Ashton Arries riding a particularly good race on the eight-year-old mare Ginger Biscuit.
Formerly trainer by Pat Lunn, who has handed in his trainer’s brief but still holds a share in the mare, Ginger Biscuit has been an honest campaigner for her connections and an eighth win was not out of order as she had not been out of the money in her last five starts.
Arries had his patience tested as he hunted a gap with the line looming, but once he got daylight, Ginger Biscuit responded with a turn of foot that belied her age.
Dennis Bosch seldom let’s one past the goalkeeper but Gentleman’s Way had him doing a Joe Hart after the first. As the gelding had not been out for over a year, Bosch does have excuses. Gentleman’s Way was probably not an apt name as the gelding has not been the easiest of customers at the gate, hence his sole outing in three seasons. “He’s a bad boy,” confirmed Bosch. “He rattles those cages.”
“This was a little bit of a surprise but he has been working terribly well. I thought it would be too short but you have to start somewhere.”
Frank Robinson will again have been disappointed with the performance of Just Dixit in the second but the gelding keeps earning and has not been out of the money in his last six outings and was just out-gunned by the better horse in Dickens.
Robinson may not have made the winner’s enclosure here but two races later his runners bracketed favourite Orient Express who was the meat in the Robinson sandwich. Muzi Yeni, relentless in his quest for the national title after coming up just short last year, got first jump on Princess Analia to hold off Orient Express with Adorable Analia closing the door on the rest of the opposition.
By Andrew Harrison