South Africa’s Champion Season came to a close with a package of brilliant thoroughbred racing at Hollywoodbets Greyville in Durban on Saturday where real champions produced a thrilling finish to the R1-million, Grade 1 World Sports Betting Champions Cup.
The R1.24-million, Grade 3 eLAN Gold Cup was the traditional core element of the 12-race programme which featured four Grade 1 races that included the R1-million Mercury Sprint and the two R750 000 juvenile races over 1 600m, the Thekwini Stakes for fillies and the Premiers Champion Stakes.
It was the superb win by Cape star Rainbow Bridge in the World Sports Betting Champions Cup that proved the highlight of the meeting as the gutsy Eric Sands-trained Ideal World gelding in the hands of Richard Fourie fought a bitter battle to the line with the Mike de Kock-trained Australian-bred three-year-old Soqrat under Anton Marcus.
Having won the Sun Met and run second in the Vodacom Durban July, Rainbow Bridge started favourite with the Irish-bred Buffalo Bill Cody as a somewhat cheeky challenger for the top position on the betting boards. In the end, the youngster was put in his place only managing fifth place. But it was the sneaky move by Marcus on Soqrat that nearly stole the glory from Rainbow Bridge when he made a quick move at about the 1 200m mark sending Soqrat swiftly round the field to head matters as they hit the home straight.
Richard Fourie, who has yet to be beaten on Rainbow Bridge in four rides, reacted quickly to send his mount in pursuit and came close to causing interference to his opponent as his mount shifted in and onto Soqrat for a second which resulted in a race review from which no further action was taken.
The eLAN Gold Cup was well won by the Joey Ramsden-trained Dynasty filly Dynasty’s Blossom that had run second in the Gold Vase on Vodacom Durban July Day. Under Mauritian jockey Nooresh Juglall, she proved too good for outsider Made To Conquer and favourite Doublemint.
After the field settled down it was Sunshine Silk that made the running ahead of Flichity By Farr, Secret Potion and Dark Moon Rising who moved through on the back straight to take the lead. Jockey Keagan de Melo began a planned hijacking of the race in drawing clear of the field to lead by about five lengths as the field turned for home. At one stage it appeared he might have stolen the race but Dynasty’s Blossom went in pursuit and together with Dawn Assault and favourite Doublemint slowly reeled Dark Moon Rising in as the Ideal World gelding finally succumbed to the gutsy effort.
Juglall said after the race that former jockey Glen Hatt had given him some advice on how to ride the filly in this particular race which he had won in the past and that had helped him.
Trainer Justin Snaith, whose day had not been successful up until the Grade 1 Mercury Sprint, got his deserved result when Fourie completed the Grade 1 double on strong favourite Kasimir, a success that together with his win in the Cape Flying Championship could see the Captain Al gelding declared sprinter of the year at the annual Equus Awards next month.
The disappointment of the day was the Sean Tarry-trained Var colt Eden Roc in the Premiers Champion Stakes. Considered generally on his unbeaten and impressive record as the potential exotic bet banker, he never became a danger and finished out of the placings as Joey Soma’s colt Got The Greenlight gave his opposition an absolute galloping lesson.
Soma said after the race that he had always felt extremely confident of winning and from the colt’s wide draw Marcus settled him early then brought him to the outside as the field hit the home straight. The colt burned up the turf as he flew down the outside to win impressively – prompting Soma to comment that the Gimmethegreenlight colt could well be in the line-up for a run in the Vodacom Durban July next year.
The Thekwini Stakes was won by favourite Gabor from the Gavin van Zyl stable after a close battle in the finish with Mill Queen that had made all the running. Snow Palace and Victoria Paige completed the quartet.