There is no better rider in the country than current National Champion Lyle Hewitson but he has a long, long way to go to even get near the one hundred Gr1 winners of Anton Marcus. But as long as he continues getting the winners home as he did at Greyville yesterday, punters won’t mind if they are lowly maidens or Graded races.
Marcus’s milestone went almost unnoticed until Arnold Hyde, acting CEO of the National Horseracing Authority, stepped out of the woodwork yesterday to present Marcus with a memento for his achievement of one hundred Grade 1 victories in a career spanning nearly three decades.
Born in 1970, the 48-year-old is still at the top of his game as he showed when coaxing Legal Eagle to a thrilling victory in last Saturday’s Greenpoint Stakes at Kenilworth.
The fact that he has a current winning strike rate of close to 32% and is three winners behind log leader Muzi Yeni who has had almost three times as many rides, tells the story.
Marcus opened the day on the odds-on favourite Enterthedebutante for Ashburton-based Kom Naidoo who said the filly will now be put away. “She wasn’t supposed to be precocious, but she showed a lot of speed at home so I decided to run her.” It was a decision well made.
Hewitson scored in three of the next four races, each one a copybook ride. On Donnan and Mystical Summer, second and fourth races respectively, he sat off the pace and produced his mount with telling late runs.
It was a change of tactics for Nathan Kotzen’s Donnan who had been showing early pace in his previous races. This time with the blinkers off, he settled nicely and ran on when it counted.
Hewitson rode a similar race on Wendy Whitehead’s filly Mystical Summer who caused a major boil-over in the exotics, starting at 25-1 and paying R18 a win on the ‘nanny’. This was only Mystical Summer’s second run for Whitehead after showing very little in her previous starts.
The late switch of tracks from Scottsville to Greyville saw the draws turned upside down in the sprint races. With the draws down the Scottsville straight hardly an issue, outside draws suddenly did become an issue on the Greyville turn. One to suffer was the well fancied Socrates who was not able to get up handy as is his want and Marcus was forced to tuck-in towards the back of the field. Socrates was doing his best work late but Hewitson was wide awake on On The Boulevard. Handy throughout, Tony Rivalland’s gelding kicked when it mattered.
It was two more for visiting jockeys as Donovan Dillon recorded a double. Dennis Bosch expressed reservations about Mutawaary’s chances after the switch to Greyville but Dillon rode a driving finish to nail hot favourite Candy Galore on the line. Slow out of the gate, Dillon bided his time until the home stretch where he gave his mount a clear run at the wire to get home in the last jump.
He had it easier in the next as Doug Campbell’s runner Stand By Me put some moderate recent form behind him to come home lonely in the seventh. The Gary Rich-trained Don Pierro, often a handful in the mornings,gave apprentice Khanya Sakayi a difficult ride, refusing to stay on a straight course under pressure but doing enough to finish a comfortable second.
Rich had to be content with another second in the last as Clouds Of Witness was just run out of it by favourite Walterthepenniless to give Dennis Drier and Sean Veale a double.
It was anyone’s race come the final furlong as pacemakers Victorious Man and All Aboard clung to their lead but Clouds Of Witness and Walterthepennisless gradually clawed their way past with the blinkered ‘Walter’just getting the upper hand.
By Andrew Harrison