Eden Roc, in contention for Champion Two-year-old last season, had been winless this term but that all changed today (Saturday) when Stuart Randolph produced him with a telling late effort to land the Grade 2 Post Merchants. It was a triumphant return to Hollywoodbets Scottsville, the scene of his Grade 1 Gold Medallion victory.
With Sean Tarry’s first-choice riders, Lyle Hewitson, successful on Eden Roc last year, and Luke Ferraris still holed up in Gauteng, locally based Randolph picked up the mount and delivered a copybook ride.
Sitting mid-field for the early exchanges he asked Eden Roc to start picking it up with about 400 m to run. At this stage Invidia appeared to be travelling best of all and a likely winner 200m out, but the red light was flashing empty when Eden Roc swept past to score comfortably with Cartel Captain third and Warrior’s Rest making it a memorable afternoon for winning owner Chris van Niekerk.
The Grade 1 Golden Horse Sprint on July 4 is an obvious next target.
Vernichey, who zipped home in a 900m scurry on debut, took a steep rise in class in her stride when she out-gunned the more fancied pair of Slalom Queen and hot favourite Delta Queen in the Grade 3 Strelitzia Stakes.
Showing signs of ring-rust after a nearly six-month break since her debut win, Warren Kenney had the devil’s own task of keeping his mount straight and hard to her task when he asked for an effort. Fortunately, he managed to clear the runners on his inside before allowing his mount to shift in towards Slalom Queen and Delta Queen who were battling it out on the inside rail. Slalom Queen kept Delta Queen at bay all the way to the line but was not able to hold off the late effort from Vernichey.
Trained by Gareth van Zyl for Kestorm Investments with Kenneth Pillay as nominee, Vernichey is now two-from-two and primed for a crack at the Grade 1 Allan Robertson to be run at Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Saturday, July 4.
Dennis Drier is a master at preparing his two-year-olds for the Grade 1 Gold Medallion, a race that he has won eight times, and he served notice that his runners will again be a force to be reckoned with on the fourth of July, saddling the first two past the post in the Grade 3 Godolphin Barb Stakes. Tempting Fate came in for some strong market support and it proved to be money on the button as Sean Veale put in a typically powerful ride to get Tempting Fate home ahead of stable companion Pray For Rain who gave the starter a few grey hairs as he played up in the gate before being re-loaded and jumping on terms.
Ante-post favourite Joseph Barry, proved friendless in the market which proved prophetic. Although handy for much of the race, he was just not able to go on with his effort when it counted. Obviously a little short of peak fitness, he is likely to come on lengths from this race.
Pretty Young thing gave her older rivals a galloping lesson in the Grade 3 Poinsettia Stakes and was the easiest feature race winner on the afternoon. Anton Marcus had Brett Crawford’s filly on the bridle for much of the race and when given her head, the daughter of Jackson accelerated away from her rivals, leaving them like corks bobbing in her wake with Master Keys, mostly ignored up the inside fence rattling him for second and edge out pacemaker Captain’s Girl. Owned by Ridgemont, nominee Wayne Kieswetter and bred at the Kieswetter-owner Highlands Farm Stud, Pretty Young Thing was recording her fifth win from ten outings and could well have the Grade 1 SA Fillies Sprint on her agenda.
Images: Candiese Lenferna