It was Padre Pio that put the final nail in the coffin of Muzi Yeni’s bid for the jockey championship last season, Dennis Bosch’s colt putting Lyle Hewitson four clear and in an unassailable position as the season ran down on the last day.
Hewitson made all the running that afternoon and Padre Pio won readily. With Hewitson in Hong Kong, and currently serving out a suspension that he garnered on home turf before trying his luck in the home-ruled Chinses territory, he was replaced by former champion S’Manga Khumalo who is making a comeback after a spell in the doldrums.
Yesterday, Padre Pio again won readily from close-up after surrendering the early lead to Bank Robber, in a tricky Graduation Plate. He was up against older runners with strong form and Pollard, a winner of his last start, chased him home in a futile effort to close down the gap with Bank Robber staying on for the minor money.
Any seasoned punter will tell you that they are wary of reputations garnered through word of mouth rather than performance, but the word was out yesterday that Ultra Magnus would live up to his lofty reputation.
Brett Crawford’s gelding did his reputation no harm as he was given a confident ride by Donovan Dillon and hardly breaking a sweat in the process to hold off the useful Desolate Road.
It was a win full of merit considering the race conditions and Graeme Hawkins and his long-time Zimbabwean friend Brian Makwabarara of Black Diamond Thoroughbreds can be realistically optimistic.
Summerveld-based Frank Robinson has been enjoying a good run of late and the six-year-old mare Komeshans Flight belied her age with a stunning finish to the fifth, getting home late to nail long-time leader Philae in the shadow of the post.
Jacqueline started at cramped odds for the sixth and she duly obliged, Dennis Drier’s charge leaving her opposition strung out like a washing behind her.
Wendy Whitehead is another that has been enjoying a good run of late and one is generally assured of a good price on her winners. Fire Island was a long-time maiden, having drawn a blank in 24 starts, although seldom far off the money. It was a close call yesterday, but Fire Island got home narrowly ahead of Master Vision.
Andre Nel is in the envious position that owner Sabine Plattner appears to let him do what is best for her horses. As a result, many of Plattner’s runners have little mileage on their clock and Twice To Sydney, having only her fifth start in two seasons, came on well from her local debut to round off the meeting in a desperate three-way battle with Dark Moon Down and Ruby Cove.
By Andrew Harrison