Gosforth Park's second biggest meeting of the year - the Southern Sun Classic – has pride of place on the East Rand courses calendar and was held on November 7 when the R200 000 Germiston November Handicap over 1600m had top billing supported by a R30 000 sprint feature.
Unfortunately for punters the rumours were unfounded and Main Man dominated betting at 11/10 on the day with bookmakers offering 6/1 and better about the other 15 runners.
In the interim there had been persistent rumours that the colt had leg problems - vehemently denied by Heming - and he had realised a bid of R1 million at a sale of horses in training at the TBA sales arena adjoining the Gosforth Park racecourse.
The R1-million sale might have been little more than a publicity move. Owner Jaap van de Vendel and Heming apparently retained their 55% and 10% shareholdings respectively and original buyer Zwi Heroldt's share was bought by Joe Stravino.
Main Man's supporters must have been happy with proceedings halfway through the turn in the November Handicap.
Main Man was still in command 300m from home but cracked 100m further on when challenged by Yardmaster, Cup Holder and Another Treat, and faded to finish eighth.
Cup Holder (8/1) and Yardmaster (14/1) soon shook off Another Treat and duelled stride for stride until Cup Holder edged ahead late to score by 1/2 length. Another Treat finished 6 lengths further back in third place.
After a few months on a spelling farm, Cup Holder was sent to trainer Roy Howe in Johannesburg. Owner Andreas Schon picked a winner in Howe, who has had significant success with ex-Natal horses in recent years. In just four runs for Howe, Cup Holder has notched three wins and a second and shot earnings from R34 590 to R182 840.
Heming was stunned by Main Man's defeat - "we'll have to wait and see" - and Lloyd could shed little light on the colt's downfall. "I don't think he needed the run," said Lloyd. "He just didn't feel the same horse who beat Model Man in the Mainstay. Perhaps he needs runs after a layoff to reach peak fitness."
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