The Triple Crown for fillies, a series of three races introduced a couple of years ago, opened with the R100 000 Ultimate Computer Fillies’ Guineas over 1600m at Gosforth Park on November 21.
Other races in the series are the R100 000 BAR Valley Classic at Milnerton and the R100 000 SA Fillies Guineas at Scottsville. There is a R250 000 bonus for a filly who wins all three races and a free service to Argosy (USA), who stands at Graham Beck’s Maine Chance Farms Stud.
Beck and Laird appeared to have a Triple Crown prospect on their hands in Mill Hill. The daughter of Royal Prerogative (GB) went into the Gosforth Park classic with five straight wins under her girth following an unplaced debut run. She had already trounced the best of her age and sex in the Transvaal and Natal and the 6/10 odds offered by bookies at the off seemed far more attractive than prime rates from any financial institution.
Unfortunately for Mill Hill, her connections and many punters, the classic marked a turning point in Heming’s fortunes which had slumped after Little Vic’s win in the John Skeaping Trophy on October 10. Heming fielded four runners and the stable elect was Love Of London, a former Natal-based filly turned out in prime condition for her debut for her new stable.
Laird reckoned it would take a miracle to beat Mill Hill but was worried that the fast Gosforth Park track would not suit his charge, who takes time to gather momentum. Consequently, Gavin van Zyl was told to keep the favourite handy and make an early run for the winning post.
The race was going according to plan for Mill Hill halfway through the turn. She was disputing second place with Prairie Oyster and Royal Elegance and was only 1 1/2 lengths behind pacemaking Phantom’s Gift, while Love Of London was in fifth place. Van Zyl was readying Mill Hill for her first stride towards the Triple Crown when disaster struck in the form of Phantom’s Gift, who weakened and dropped back on to Mill Hill. Van Zyl had to check Mill Hill and the pair were forced out by Phantom’s Gift, who shifted from the inside rail.
When Van Zyl blinked Mill Hill was in trouble. Prairie Oyster had shot 4 lengths clear and Love Of London was already alongside the Laird runner. Mill Hill made a brave effort but 400m dashes are not her forte. She got on terms iwth Prairie Oyster 150m out but Love Of London was a length ahead and drew off to vanquish the Laird champion by 4 lengths. Prairie Oyster was the same distance away third.
Love Of London (7/1) had been disappointing in her three previous races this season but obviously blossomed under Heming’s care and appears to have recaptured her top two-year-old form. She will not remain with Heming permanently. “Love Of London was sent to me especially for this race but on condition she remains with me as long as she was in the running for the Trip Crown honours. If she wins the second leg she will not return to her Natal trainer until after the last leg.” Heming went on to explain that the record rains on the Highveld this spring were the principal reason for her runners’ loss of form after the Skeaping Trophy. Sand tracks at her private establishment became water-logged and hindered the training of her charges.
Love Of London is by US-bred sire Rollins, who was killed by lightning last year.
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