Glen Kotzen was surprised his Duke Of Marmalade filly Temple Grafin had been overlooked by on course television pundits before winning the Grade 3 Umzimkhulu Stakes over 1400m at Greyville on Sunday and he was looking forward to a good SA Champions Season for her and others in his string, including former Cape Derby winner Eyes Wide Open.
He said, “I thought Temple Grafin could have been mentioned considering she won the Grade 3 Debutante over 1200m at this course last season and she finished second to the highest rated three-year-old filly in the country, Clouds Unfold, over this trip in the Grade 2 Western Cape Fillies Championship.”
He continued, “This filly never cracks a draw and we imagined she would have to go to the front from her draw but Anton Marcus then suggested instead of making it so hard on her why not give her a chance and drop her out.”
He duly dropped her into a midfield position and when he found himself caught one wide he accelerated past Ella’s World and managed to slot her in behind Runaway Gal. So he was in joint fourth place one wide with cover, without having given the filly much to do. She then ran on strongly to win by 0,40 lengths, despite being one of only two contestants to be carrying a 1,5kg penalty.
It was a triumph for Drakenstein Stud stallion Duke Of Marmalade as another of his daughters, Santa Clara, finished runner up.
The Duke Of Marmalades appear to get better with age and Kotzen said, “Ant Mgudlwa rode Temple Grafin in work last season and he couldn’t believe how much she had matured when he saw her for the first time at Summerveld this season. She has really matured and grown bigger and stronger.”
The aim is now the Grade 2 KRA Fillies Guineas.
Kotzen is adamant she will stay the trip.
He said, “She is out of a Grey’s Inn mare who won third time out over 1900m. We just hope she cracks a draw for a change.”
The Grade 1 WSB Cape Fillies Guineas was her only attempt at the mile and she was rushed to the front from draw 13 of 13 and then began over racing a touch when she was reined back to allow two other horses to go past her. Not surprisingly she compounded in the straight and finished a 7,60 length eleventh.
The SA Fillies Sprint could also be on the menu for Temple Grafin, as she has plenty of speed, and Kotzen said he would be discussing this possibility with owner Hugo Hattingh of Chrigor Stud.
Santa Clara and third-placed Silvano’s Pride can also be taken out of the Umzimkhulu as ones to follow. Santa Clara will be improving continuously, especially as she is out of a full-sister to champion stallion Silvano, whose progeny mature like fine wines. Silvano’s Pide is by Silvano and as one who takes a strong hold she only knows one way of running, from the front, so she did well to finish third in her first KZN start and should come on plenty from it.
Kotzen said Eyes Wide Open, who also runs in the familiar Chrigor Stud colours, had been “cruising” in his work and he will make his first Champions Season appearance in the Sledgehammer. The aim is to get him into the Vodacom Durban July with a nice galloping weight.
He said, “He battled in the Cape Season with haemoconcentration but we have been working on his bloods and he is back to his best.”
He was also hoping to get Herodotus into the July, whom he rates as a “proper” horse. This Trippi colt, who finished third in the Grade 1 GBets Cape Derby, is back in Cape Town and would likely run in the first two legs of the Cape Winter Series before heading for KZN, although Kotzen said he would play it by ear.
Kotzen has a feeling there will be a number of hitherto unknown three-year-olds emerging from various yards during the Champions Season.
He mentioned two among his string could be the promising Ideal World colt Cat Daddy, whom he reckoned would improve as he went over more ground, and the What A Winter gelding Spring Fling, whom he has hopes for over a mile and beyond.
By David Thiselton