Rainbow Bridge Unbeaten From Five

Rainbow Bridge at the Nationals. Image: Candiese Marnewick

Rainbow Bridge paid tribute to the late Chris Gerber in the only way he could by producing his devastating trademark turn of foot to extend his unbeaten record to five in the Cape Mile at Kenilworth on the weekend.

But he did it the hard way, turning the preliminaries – and indeed the whole time since he left his Milnerton stable – into nervous, sweating and energy-sapping anxiety. Eric Sands, amazingly now almost accustomed to this alarming behaviour, repeatedly threw buckets of water over him to cool him down.

But in the parade ring the favourite jig-jogged round in a manner that had the bookmakers rubbing their hands in glee. They lengthened him from 10-15 to 16-10 in a bid to get in as much money as they could.

Bernard Fayd’Herbe deliberately took the horse much further down the course than any of the others in the parade and by the time he reached the start a lot of the nerves had dissipated into the atmosphere.

“I wasn’t too concerned,” he reported afterwards. “The most important thing for me was to get him relaxed and enjoying the race. Indeed he was travelling so well that when we turned into the straight I was looking to put on the handbrake.”

Instead he pressed the accelerator. Not even Lewis Hamilton could have got a better response. The four-year-old slipped into another gear and 150m from home he was in front. The length and three-quarter margin over second-placed Silver Maple does little justice to the ease of victory.

Eric Sands said: “The sweat was dripping off him when we got here but he is better than he was and, as he settles, he shows more and more of his ability. He runs in the Green Point next.”

But the trainer was so overcome that he was having to fight back the tears as he was interviewed by Stan Elley. “It’s Chris’s death and also Rainbow Bridge’s groom who committed suicide a month ago,” he explained.

So just how good is the Ideal World four-year-old? “As good as they get,” was Fayd’Herbe’s unhesitating reply and he has ridden more top horses than most of us have had holidays.

Hawwaam, a Silvano half-brother to Rainbow Bridge wins the first ‘hands and heels’ race on race debut under Randall Simons. Image: Candiese Marnewick

But that nervous sweating hangs over the bay’s future like a threatening cloud. He might get away with it in races like this but the Queen’s Plate and the Met are a different matter. No matter how good you are, you cannot afford to burn up lengths beforehand. Sands’ task is going to be as difficult as anything he has faced in his long career.

Rainbow Bridge sold at the 2016 National Yearling Sale for R300 000 (pictured), bred in partnership with Wilgerbosdrift & Mauritzfontein, and consigned to the sale under the banner of Wilgerbosdrift.

His Silvano half-brother Hawwaam who sold for R1-million a year later at Nationals and is owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum, made the headlines for more than one reason, aside from winning on debut at Turffontein on Charity Mile day, he won the first ‘hands and heels’ race in South Africa under Randall Simons.

Rainbow Bridge won the Gr3 Winter Guineas in only his second start, followed by the Gr3 Winter Classic and Gr3 Matchem, taking the Ridgemont Highlands Series. He has earned stakes of R612 500 to date.

Out of Jet Master mare Halfway To Heaven, a Gr3 winner of the Prix Du Cap and Off To Stud Listed amongst her 7 wins, she has a colt by Philanthropist (2016) and a filly by Silvano (2017) to come through.

His sire Ideal World stands at Mauritzfontein and has produced the likes of the globetrotting Gr1 winning mare Smart Call, Zen Arcade, Inverroche, Hermoso Mundo, Zante and Persian Rug amongst others.

-extract Michael Clower/Gold Circle

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