Feature Double For Sire Oratorio


A dashing son of an internationally proven sire out of a Gr1 darling of the Cape turf, the 4yo Mardi Gras is a horse going places and he registered his biggest win with an eyecatching victory in the Gr2 Senor Santa Stakes at Turffontein on Saturday.

On a memorable afternoon for many folk associated with the handsome 4yo grey gelding, including jockey Randall Simons, who was registering his fourth winner of the meeting, and a large group of enthusiastic owners who had put their money down in double quick time after the former Mayfair Speculators galloper had – according to trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren – failed a scope en route to Mauritius, Mardi Gras’ grinding display of power also marked the first leg of a terrific feature double for his champion sire, Oratorio.

A breathless Avontuur GM Pippa Mickleburgh screamed the gelding home amid loadshedding and the drone of generators on the magnificent Stellenbosch farm where the standout foal first saw the light of day on 11 October 2014.

“Wow. That was impressive. He is versatile and very smart. I’m so glad for all the owners and trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren. And what a feature double for Oratorio on the afternoon!” she said as her son of Danehill, imported to add a new dimension to the champion Var and with the aim of producing classic and Met or July winners, continues his roll of winners.

“The Oratorio’s can only get better with time. So it’s very exciting,” said Pippa.

Facing his first big test and dropping marginally in ground after two good wins over 1200m, Mardi Gras raced prominently for the first half of the race behind Romi’s Boy and Down To Zero.

At the 500m it was clear that nothing was going better and the 4yo simply pulled his in-form jockey into the lead before drawing clear with a  measure of authority to beat the gallant Prince Of Kahal in a time of 65.65 secs.

The Sean Tarry mare Exquisite Touch made up many lengths inside the 200m and stormed through to grab third ahead of another daughter of Var in the year younger Schippers, who ran a cracker.

The favourite Cirillo was never sighted and finished downfield.


Mardi Gras, who is likely to be aimed at the Gr1 Tsogo Sun Sprint at Scottsville on 25 May, has won 6 races with 5 places from 13 starts for stakes of R719 527.

Originally the joint top-seller at R3,2 million at the 2016 Emperors Palace Select Yearling Sale, he changed hands following the Mayfair Speculators unbundling.

Bred by Avontuur, he is a son of champion racehorse Oratorio (Danehill) out of the classy Gr1 winner Sarabande, a powerful daughter of Goldmark, who won six races in the care of Joey Ramsden from a mile to 2000m.

A triple Gr1 winner and dual champion sire in Italy, Oratorio has two fillies on offer at Sunday’s Cape Yearling Sale, and he also has a large, quality  draft on offer at this year’s National Sale in April.

Oratorio’s 18 strong National Sale draft includes a half-sister (Lot 250) to Gr1 winner King Of Pain, a half-brother (Lot 337) to July winning champion Big City Life, and a filly (Lot 344) out of Cape Fillies Guineas winner Emerald Beauty.


Leading Gauteng owner  Lawrence Wernars celebrated his birthday on Saturday as longshot Divine Odyssey, a horse he bred and part owns, bounded home to win the R150 000 Listed Drum Star Handicap to give Avontuur stallion Oratorio a superb feature double on the day.

“Lawrence (Wernars) was saying recently that he doesn’t have runners in a lot of the features. I asked him if he wanted runners or winners,” chirped trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren who saddled the feature double a half hour after the yard’s Mardi Gras had cruised in to win the Gr2 Senor Santa Stakes.

Calvin Habib drives Divine Odyssey out to win well (Pic JC Photos)

Racing under sufferance off bottom weight of 52kgs, Calvin Habib had Divine Odyssey relaxed in midfield off a muddling pace set by Pilou, who led Dawn Assault, The Dazzler and Cash Time.

At the 500m Divine Odyssey commenced his move as The Dazzler and Pietro Mascagni looked dangerous.

Riding a confidence race, Calvin Habib let the 4yo gelding go at the 250m and he drew clear at 28-1 t beat the consistent The Dazzler by 2 lengths in a time 110.37 secs.

Pietro Mascagni plodded late into third a further length back, with Cash Time rounding off the quartet after having every chance.

The on-off pace would have done the prospects of Hero’s Honour and Noble Secret no favours.

Winning jockey Calvin Habib said that he had been travelling well throughout. “At the 400m I knew we had it. It’s a good win as he has been a handful.”

Trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren, who was on his way to join the Wernars family for a few days of celebrations, confirmed that Divine Odyssey ‘is a bit difficult but has ability’.

“I don’t usually run horses under sufferance. But it worked out and the lack of pace suited us,” he added.

The winner, another son of Oratorio (Danehill) to win on the day, is out of the four-time winning Dynasty mare, Divine Right – who won to a mile.

Bred by Lawrence Wernars, he went through the Cape Premier Yearling Sale ring where the hammer fell at R500 000.

Divine Odyssey has won 4 races with 5 places from 14 starts for stakes of R286 825.

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