Top South African trainer Sean Tarry missed by mere centimeters pulling off an historic training feat at Scottsville racecourse in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday when he won all but one of the four Grade 1 races that formed the official Jackpot bet at the Tsogo Sun Sprint meeting – the country’s famous annual “sprint festival”.
Winning three of the races was, however, a record in itself in that it had never been done before and he closed off the Jackpot in sensational style with his three runners in the R1-million Tsogo Sun Sprint getting up in a fantastic finish to fill the first three places. And taking the enormity of his success in the premier event to an even high level, two of the three runners had been drawn on the outside of the large field which has always been considered a major handicap.
Before that, in the R750 000 Allan Robertson Championship for two-year-old fillies, Tarry’s Var filly Cavivar, that he trains for Anthony Beck and which bears the famous brown and white colours of Anthony’s legendary parents, the late Graham and Rhona Beck, just failed to get the better of the Captain Al filly Miss Florida from the Justin Snaith stable. Cavivar’s rider Lyle Hewitson lodged an objection against Miss Florida on the grounds of interference in the closing stages but the objection was overruled.
That marked another milestone in South African racing as Miss Florida was ridden by top apprentice Luke Ferrraris, grandson of legendary Gauteng trainer Ormond Ferraris, who recorded the first Grade 1 victory of his young career.
Then the Tarry yard took control of matters in the three other Grade 1 events with the Var colt Eden Roc, ridden by Hewitson, just getting to the line ahead of a fast-finishing favourite from the Mike de Kock stable, Frosted Gold, under Anton Marcus.
The R750 000 South African Fillies Sprint was next up and Snaith stable’s star Captain Al filly Snowdance was considered the horse to beat. And that it was as the four-year-old under Richard Fourie cruised along against the inside rail at the head of the action looking very much like a winner when she was called on to produce a strong finishing burst and she drew clear of her opposition on the inside.
Then, like a rocket on the outside of the field, the brown and white Beck colours appeared on the scene attached to jockey Hewitson aboard the three-year-old Captain Al filly Celtic Sea and she cruised across the line following up on her impressive performance at last year’s Scottsville meeting where she finished half a length second to Mighty High in the Allan Robertson Championship.
But the last of the four Grade 1 races, the Tsogo Sun Sprint, proved the most spectacular race of the day with the famous blue and red colours of popular and leading owner Chris van Niekerk dominating the result in a thrilling close finish taking the first three places.
The three-year-old Trippi colt Chimichuri Run, in the hands of Raymond Danielson, led the Tarry trio across the line followed by Trip To Heaven, that had again been slow away at the start, and the Visionaire gelding Africa Rising. Running a fantastic race under a big weight and from an outside draw to finish fourth was the Brett Crawford colt Undercover Agent.