Pacific Trader will take an unconventional route towards the Betting World Cape Flying Championship after making light of a difficult draw in the Interbet.co.za Pinnacle Stakes at Durbanville on Saturday.
The 18-10 favourite was impressive. Despite not having raced since his Computaform Sprint victory almost five months ago he was in front after a furlong and Corne Orffer had no trouble in holding the strong-finishing Vincente by a comfortable half length. Celestial Storm, three-quarters of a length away third, had to steady off the heels of the winner in the closing stages but she would not have won even if Grant Behr had been able to ride her to the line.
Brett Crawford said: “Pacific Trader was rated to win this – it was just a question of whether he was ready – and I needed to run him to get his fitness up. There is not a lot for him between now and the Cape Flying – I don’t want to run him beyond five furlongs – but I have to keep him on the boil so I will run him in whatever is in the programme in the way of pinnacles etc. “
In Flat racing the job of the stalls handlers is, arguably at least, even more dangerous than that of the jockeys. True, being pitched at over 50kph into a sea of metal-tipped pounding hooves, each one delivered with the force of half a tonne, is a recipe for injury and occasionally even death but the handlers come into contact with the end that kicks in every race – and those watching the on-course close circuit TV for the Betting World Maiden were confronted with a horror show.
The Crawford-trained newcomer Shiny Shoes took fright in the pens and handler Alfred Mzondi climbed up into the metalwork to take hold of the horse’s head and so calm him down. Somehow he got knocked over into the horse’s stall and fell beneath his hooves. He was kicked mercilessly and repeatedly before managing to crawl under the front gate.
The stipes’ TV, which shows everything far more clearly and in close up, revealed a horrifying scene of the terrified horse on his back, all four legs flailing, and Mzondi – too badly hurt to get to his feet – crawling on hands and knees all the way across to the safety of the rails. The race was delayed while the paramedics took him to the doctor in the weighing room. He was, understandably, still considerably shaken when he got there. He also had a nasty cut on his cheek and he was taken to the Durbanville Mediclinic for a scan to make sure that there was no head injury.
The unfortunate Shiny Shoes had cuts on his shoulder and his quarters. It will be a long time before he forgets his introduction to racing. The race itself went to his stable companion Golden Tractor, brought fast and late by Orffer.
Justin Snaith and Richard Fourie, successful in maidens with all-the-ways scorers Yucatan and Maravilloso, also took the Settlers Trophy with the Fosters’ homebred 9-10 fav Belgarion who had been off between disappointing in the Cape Derby and winning early this month.
Snaith, winning his sixth Settlers and his fourth in five seasons, said: “There was nothing wrong – we just decided to put him away – and I will do so again if he gets punished by the handicapper for this. We will see what he gets and then decide where we go.”
Eric Sands is aiming Driving Miss Daisy at the Western Cape Fillies Championship (October 26) and the WSB Cape Fillies Guineas after she made up ten lengths in the final 300m of the finale to score with Donovan Dillon easing up.
Sean Veale, deputising for the bronchitis-hit M.J. Byleveld, was fined R2 000 for using his whip more than the maximum permitted when landing the Tellytrack.com Handicap on the Vaughan Marshall-trained Path Of Choice.
Azores quickened well to lead 100m out under Stuart Randolph in the mile maiden and Dean Kannemeyer believes he will make up into “a nice staying sort.”
By Michael Clower