Current national champion trainer Sean Tarry broke the stranglehold Geoff Woodruff had on the Gauteng Chris Gerber Summer Cup three years ago but is now dominating the race himself as he recorded his third win in succession of Johannesburg’s biggest race on Saturday and his fourth overall.
Leading apprentice Dennis Schwarz has shown himself in the past couple of seasons to have an outstanding racing mind coupled with good riding skills and he produced another ride out of the top drawer to lead from start to finish on Zillzaal, hence landing his first Grade 1 victory.
Zillzaal had drifted off the boards to 28/1 and Tarry said, “He did what he had to do, it was a very good and very confident ride by the apprentice and it sort of went as we had planned. People have short memories as Zillzaal started favourite for the Charity Mile. But it is also hindsight for us as we had also lost confidence. However, the tell-tale sign that he wasn’t going to give his best in the Charity Mile was that he began sweating badly at the start, so something was amiss, although we are not sure what it was. His first run after gelding had been very good and on Saturday he went down very maturely and there was no sign of sweat so he once again looked like a horse who had come back from gelding. I had also said in the panel discussion that two of my previous Summer Cup winners had come in off quiet runs. I had respect for Mike de Kock’s runners in the build-up, he seemed to have the goods, but I didn’t think we were prayerless at the weights on some of the formlines and I thought we may just get a blow in. Al Mutawakel was the one I was probably most confident in based on his Victory Moon run and although at the weights the pundits were academically correct in saying he had a tough task I knew he would come on from that run. He is a big strong horse and I knew he would get close to Soqrat.”
Al Mutawakel, a relatively lightly race four-year-old who is a full-brother to the Grade 1 SA Derby winner Al Sahem, duly finished a 0,60 length third, just a neck behind runner up Soqrat. De Kock filled the fourth and fifth places with Queen Supreme and Atyaab.
Topweight Soqrat was caught wide in the running the whole way and considering he was giving all of the other placed horses 8kg he put up an outstanding performance in defeat. There is now no doubt he will stay the easier Kenilworth 2000m of the Sun Met and is sure to make his presence felt there in what is gearing up to be a race of epic proportions.
There is a current ban on normal travel down to Cape Town from Johannesburg due to a recent African Horse Sickness case within a 30km radius of Randjesfontein, but it is hoped this ban will be lifted on the tenth of this month.
However, Tarry pointed out that only genuine weight for age horses are worth sending down to Cape Town, so he questioned whether the like of Zillzaal and Mutawakel would be worth sending down, although a final decision has not yet been made.
Both Zillzaal and A Mutawakel are by the champion sire Silvano.
Tarry also ousted De Kock in the main supporting feature, the Grade 2 TAB/Betting World Dingaans. His Captain Of All colt Shango was jostled early and found himself near the back, but this long-striding sort stormed home under Gavin Lerena to win going away by 2,75 lengths despite odds of 36/1. De Kock’s Frosted Gold was second ahead of the filly Cockney Pride and Battle Of Alesia. The more fancied of Tarry’s two runners, Eden Roc, over raced for the second time over a mile and finished fifth. The De Kock-trained favourite Marshall, unbeaten in two previous starts, finished second last but looks the part and can’t yet be written off as an over-hyped horse.
Tarry said, “The tell-tale sign of Shango being this class was his close second on Gold Cup day to one of the best horses of the crop (Alibi Guy). I also nominated him for the Ready To Run race (14 December Kenilworth) and he could easily have run there but he drew badly so I ran him here. He needed his comeback run quite badly and I thought he might still need this one based on his homework. But the pace was on and it suited him.”
Tarry said he might nominate him for the Grade 1 Cape Guineas but is not sure yet. He reckoned Shango would definitely stay further and said he could well be a Triple Crown prospect.
Tarry also won the Grade 2 New Turf Carriers Merchants over 1160m with the five-year-old Oratorio gelding Mardi Gras, who was having his first run for him. The grey returned from a 189 day layoff but looked a picture in the preliminaries and off a merit rating of 116 he won easily by 2,25 lengths under Lerena from his big stable companion Warrior’s Rest.
Tarry said his rating might now put him in the bracket of a weight for age horse but he questioned whether he was a five furlong horse so travelling to Cape Town for the Grade 1 Betting World Cape Flying Championship was still up in the air.
By David Thiselton