Raceform's pen-pictures of the best runners of 1986, as published in Winner's Circle
3 b f Trocadero - Poet Princess (Laureate) [1985 1200g* 1986 1000g* 1000g* 1400g2 1600g*]
81.0 (TFR 98)
Allure made her debut in July of her juvenile career, over 1200m at Newmarket; she won by a good 6 lengths at odds of 13/10. After a 2 months break came 2 victories in quick succession, over 1000m at Turffontein, both times at odds-on. Now hailed as the new Transvaal superstar, the clash with Natal champion Jungle Class over the Turffontein 1400m at her next start had the pundits somewhat confused. Jungle Class was the marginal favourite at even money, Allure started at 13/10. It was no race. Jungle Class let all the way, slowish early on, to pull away from the 600m for a convincing victory in a fair but not fast time.
The two met again a month later in the first leg of the Fillies Triple Crown, the Gr1 Mikes Kitchen Fillies Guineas. Jungle Class started at odds of 4 to 10, with 8/1 Pasqueflower and 10/1 bar. Rather surprisingly short odds on Jungle Class, since she had still to prove to stay the mile. In the event she appeared not quite to see out the Gosforth near bend mile. The same is probably true for Allure, who benefitted from masterful Muis Roberts tactics on the day. Roberts took Allure to the front from the break to set a decent pace, not too fast, but fast enough for Basil Marcus not to want to make the effort to overtake her. Roberts made an early, unexpected move on Allure coming off the bend, to steal a couple of lengths on his rival. Marcus reacted quickly, but the effort of making up ground so quickly proved too much - Jungle Class almost got to her girths, but then failed to run on in the last 100m or so. Young Lady was a close third, narrowly holding off the very fast finishing Island Paradise, who looks the filly to watch over distances from a mile upwards in future clashes.
Allure is bred by Stephen de Wet’s Excelsior Stud and is leased to her current owners by the stud. Her dam Poet Princess won 3 races up to a mile and seems likely to have been a sprint/miler, best over 1400/1600. Her previous foals were rather a mixed bag. Her first foal, by Jan Ekels, was a lightly raced maiden. The next, a sprinter by Harry Hotspur, won a few races in the Cape and is the dam of Bar le Duc. Then came the Heming-trained Roland (by Roland Gardens) a top division performer sprint/miler. Rhetoric, the fourth foal, by Kalamaika, is a rather modest middle distance performer in the Cape. Next came 2 fillies by Trocadero; the oldest, the Heming trained Gay Parisian won one race over 1400m, the youngest is Allure. The following foal, Colloquial by Roland Gardens, was a R52 000 yearling at the most recent National Sales and is in training on the Rand.
Second dam Tertia bred 7 winners by a variety of sires. She was a modest winner over 1000m and 1400m as a 4yo. The track record of her off-spring suggests that she was probably best around 1400m. This confirmed by the record of Poet Princess, who is by Laureate. An orphaned foal bred by Lord Derby and trained by Bernard Van Cutsem in the UK, Laureate had been expected to run well in the Derby, but generally had a disappointing career of which heart trouble seems to have been the cause. By Aureole out of a Nearco mare, he won the Lingfield Derby Trial and must have stayed at least a mile and a half. It seems then that Allure inherits her stamina from her dam, who got it in turn from her dam, and that consequently she will be best over 1400/1600m.
Allure’s next mission is bound to be the second leg of the Fillies Triple Crown, over the sharp Milnerton near bend mile early in January. There she will no doubt meet Marcus and Jungle Class again, but also the Cape fillies Alpine Silk, Double Vodka and Divine Forest. The latter will enjoy the services of Roberts on that occasion. Whether Allure will be capable of winning again remains to be seen. The all important draw and resulting tactics are going to play a decisive role, but Allure seems certain to give a good account of herself.
3 b f Northfields - Galana (Reform) [1985 1000y* 1200g 1400y3 1600g* 1986 1400g2 1400g* 1600g*]
81.0 (TFR 98)
Much has been written in recent years about the so-called detrimental effect the importation of topclass horses has on the breeding industry in this country. Every time another Argentinian-bred and usually Millard-trained horse wins a big race the question rears its ugly head. We fail to see the point. After all, he who pays the piper has the right to call the tune, and the number of really well bred and well conformed horses on offer at auction in South Africa is limited to say the least. It is not surprising that those who wish to invest their money look for the best - and if for that they feel they must go overseas, then good luck to them. As usual the grass appears greener on the other side of the fence, but witness the vast numbers of wellbred imported horses with limited ability and you will see that Mother Nature and statistics have their way of keeping abreast of the trends. The more avenues we explore, the greater the chances of breeding more topclass horses. Protective import controls imposed by the South African breeding industry really do no one any good, least of all the buyers who would be forced to settle for inferior stick, if they would buy at all. Let us not forget that breeding is a form of investment, and nothing more, or less.
Alpine Silk's dam Galana was bought at the 1981 Tattersalls December Sales for 43,000 Guineas in foal to Northern Baby, a few minutes after the 4th foal of Galana, by Habitat, had fetched 60,000 Guineas. A bargain buy by all accounts, Galana was a Gr3 placed winner of 2 races in Ireland (2000/2400m). Her first foal, by Habitat, fetched 106,000 Guineas as a yearling, had a Timeform rating of 82 and stayed a mile. Her second, Be My Guest, ran once at 2 before being exported to the US. The third foal, Lady Galana by Nonoalco, won and was Group placed in Italy. The fourth, the already mentioned 60 000 Guineas foal (resold for 82,000 as a yearling), by Habitat, was a miler, but with ah Timeform rating of only 59 in 1984. Galana is a halfsiser to Cavo Doro (Sir Ivor), the Lester Piggott ridden runner-up in the 1973 English Derby (TFR 124), now a sire in Brazil. Another halfbrother Great Brother (by Great Nephew) and a winner of 5 races (TFR 108) did his stud duties in South Africa. Half sister Helmsdale (by Habitat), Group-placed, was a useful miler (TFR 107). The second dam Limuru had a Timeform rating of 83; she won 4 races and probably stayed well. She was a half sister to sire Saintly Song (by Aureole), a multiple Group winner with a TFR 128.
Galana was imported in foal to Northfields in August 1983. Three months later Alpine Silk was born. Quite a late foal, Alpine Sillk made her debut at 2 in April 1986. Looking in need of a run, she won going away over the stiff Kenilworth 1200 on soft going, at 6/1. She was comfortably beaten at her next start (K1200, good going) by Double Vodka, with whom she was to cross swords again on several occasions. Her third start was the Matchem Stakes, the traditional clash between juveniles and 3yo’s at Kenilworth over1400m. She ran on nicely for third, coming from well back. A month later Alpine Silk reappeared in Natal, over 1600m at Greyville. Ridden much handier than before, she won narrowly in fair time, but raced somewhat green. Her next start was the Gr2 Golden Slipper, where she reversed to her old race tactics of coming from well back, assisted no doubt by a sluggish start. She ran on well, but had little chance with Jungle Class, who won this Clairwood 1400m race in good time, and who had been close to the pace all the way (showing once again that you cannot give start to a sound frontrunner). Following a 2-month break Alpine Silk met her conqueror Double Vodka again, over 1400 at Milnerton, to win comfortably after a short struggle 300m from home. She had been handy all the way in a small field, with the pace on the slow side. The two clashed once again at their next start, the Gr3 Majorca Stakes over 1600m at Kenilworth. Always well back in a fast run race, in which Double Vodka rather surprisingly was pushed along to stay handy, Alpine Silk came from last at the 400m to win going away in good time. Some writers expressed the opinion that jockey Puller is giving them heart-failure by sitting so far off the pace, but on this occasion that seemed exactly the reason why she was able to win; the 400m fractions of the race were 24.5, 24.2, 24.8 and 24.9, with Double Vodka the only one of the horses racing close up to run on.
Alpine Silk certainly stays a mile, but that will probably be as far as she goes. Her dam Galana won over 2000m and 2400m and must have stayed well, with her sire Reform (who incidentally only stands 15.2hh) a miler who won the Champion Stakes (2000m) and Galana’s dam Limuru in all probability best over long distances. With Northfields as her sire, Alpine Silk is certainly entitled to stay a mile. Her manner of running, though, suggests that she gets her stamina from him and not her dam – were the latter the case Alpine Silk would certainly stay the 2000m and probably a mile and a half, and in the process improve considerably on her rating. That in turn would make her one of the very best fillies we have seen in the country, which at this stage we are not quite ready to accept. Future clashes with Double Vodka over a mile and more will be something to look forward to, especially if Double Vodka is ridden with more restraint and by a stronger jockey. But before that there will be the BAR Valley Classic, the 1600m near bend Fillies Guineas in which Alpine Silk most likely will meet with Jungle Class, Divine Forest and Allure, who all seem well suited to the sharp mile. There must be a good chance that Alpine Silk's superior stamina will play a decisive role that day.
2 b c Jungle Cove · Maiden Over (Persian Wonder)
[1985 000g* 1200g* 1200g* 1200g* 1400g*]
It never ceases to amaze us how biased people become when topclass horses from one centre race in another. When the season is on the Rand, Rand-people are sceptical about the quality of Cape horses coming up. When racing is in Natal, Rand people will prefer their own champion over one coming from the Cape, and Cape punters will see to it that the Cape-tote odds on their horses are a good few points lower than the actual betting in Natal. Although loyalty is an admirable quality, it has no place in the assessment of horses of different centres. The astute handicapper can often pick up astounding value for money because of the public's general bias and ignorance, to which the local press greatly contributes - in ignorance and bias they generally lead the field. How else can one explain the generous odds available on Bush Telegraph at his last two starts, both of them at 5/2?
We have on many an occasion laid the claim that the most important (and rewarding) task facing a handicapper is that of assessing juveniles. Not only can future champions be handpicked, but future careers of all horses become clear for all to see - there is no better time to make an offer for a well-bred filly with stud prospects than when she has had one or two runs as an early juvenile.
Bush Telegraph, unbeaten in five starts, showed his very best form on only two occasions: at his very first start and at his fourth start. In fact, it was at his very first start, in January, that he impressed us most. Most Cape racegoers should know by now that the official timing of races at Kenilworth bears little relationship to reality, and anyone using the official times for purposes of speed rating would do well to acquire a stopwatch, to check times by hand. Not that times of races in themselves mean anything. Firstly times for the day of all races must be scrutinised to establish a benchmark of what is possible on the day. Secondly, and much more important, races must be timed in sections, preferably of 400m each, to judge whether a race is run at a true pace or not. In our experience not more than half of all races run can be classified as true run races. For a correct assessment of horses in handicap terms it is extremely important to know which half. Sectional timing, however, does not seem to be something the powers in South African racing that be regard as consequential. It seems likely that a good few years will pass before the penny drops - but we are confident that, when it eventually comes, the face of racing in South Africa will change dramatically. Our hands-on experience with sectional timing has taught us an incredible amount about the reading of races and the correct assessment of horses.
Bush Telegraph made his debut over the fast Kenilworth 1000, in a field of eight. He drifted from opening odds of 5/10 to 3/1 on support for Master Harry, who was backed from 12/10 to 4/10. Both horses were first timers. The time for the first 400m of the race was exceptionally fast, so much so that we wondered halfway through the race whether these youngsters would be capable of keeping it up. And it was with breathless admiration that we saw Bush Telegraph show the hallmark of a great horse. He managed to quicken off this incredible pace with 400m to go, putting 5 lengths between himself and Master Harry, who ran second, a good few lengths in front of the third horse. This was no flash in the pan. Master Harry, mistakenly campaigned over ground after the defeat, won later on in the season in strong open company over the same straight. Further down the field was Lap of Honour, who proved himself conclusively in the Langerman Handicap and Matchem Stakes later in the year.
After winning his second start at odds of 4/10, beating Esprit de Corps (who won 4 races at 2), Bush Telegraph faced the stiffest test in the Gr2 Nursery Futurity over the Milnerton 1200. He sweated up rather badly in the ring and in our opinion on those looks did not look value for money at odds of 6/10. His sweating did hardly affect him, though, and he won by almost 3 lengths from the subsequent Langerman Handicap winner Ace Pilot.
It came as a surprise then that in the Smirnoff Plate Bush Telegraph's Racefigure was lower than that of Main Man, who like Bush Telegraph had been unbeaten in three starts to date. Perhaps the fact that Bush Telegraph was "only" a Gr2 winner whereas Main Man had won a Gr1 race had something to do with that. After breaking perhaps a bit sluggishly, Bush Telegraph raced somewhat off the leader over the stiff Scottsville1200, where the pace was fast. Jockey Puller took no chances, though, and made an early move to get up to leader Main Man's quarters at the 400m. The two drew well clear of their field, Bush Telegraph beaten a short head, only to be awarded the race on objection after Main Man had carried him inwards considerably over the last 100m. Whether Bush Telegraph would have beaten Main Man had the latter kept straight is entirely a matter of opinion. And we would want to be the last to give a verdict in the matter. The two did not meet again that season.
Bush Telegraph was bred by Highlands Farms. He is the eighth foal of his dam Maiden Over, six of which ran, with Bush Telegraph the fourth one to win races. Best of the previous produce was probably Waikato (by New South Wales), a 9-time winner up to 1900m. Maiden Over herself won 3 times over 1000m at 2 and 3, and is a full sister to Guineas winner Ton Up (also a winner in the US), Fillies Guineas winner Have A Ball, and Majorca Stakes winner No Wonder. She also is a half sister to sire Lords (by Sovereign Path), an 11-time winner and an influence at stud up to 1400m. The second dam No Ball won over 1200m as a 3yo, and is a half sister to the dams of Song of Songs (TFR 116) and Piaffer (TFR 115), both sires in South Africa.
The major question is: how far will Bush Telegraph stay? In truth, a topclass performer can win over any distance, but the presence of such as Main Man, Desert Legend, Honey Bear and Cowdray Park, all highclass horses, will put emphasis on the running of each over his right distance in topclass events. Although his dam Maiden Over did no win beyond 1000m, she is likely to have been a sprint/miler, suited by 1400/1600. Jungle Cove, a winner up to 1900, is in our opinion an influence around 1400m. According to our rule of thumb that offspring will take in staying ability directly after either sire or dam, Bush Telegraph might be expected to stay an easy mile at best, and might be best over less. He should be suited by the sharp 1600m of the Richelieu Guineas, but as far as the Triple Crown is concerned he may have to play second fiddle in the other legs. An attractive, well balanced individual, Bush Telegraph looks certain to win his share of races.
3br g Royal Prerogative - Green Pastures (New South Wales) [1985 1600g2 1400g2 1400* 1600g1 1400g]
84 (TFR 105)
Cowdray Park's racing career as a 2yo spans just 8 weeks - but in his 4 starts during that period he firmly established himself as one of the best of his generation, with a Raceform rating of 84.
He made his debut in May, over 1600m at Scottsville, starting 11/10 favourite in a field of 16. In a race run at good pace he ran second to Goldstruck, who had got first run on him at the 500m. The rest of the field was well beaten. Not exactly the performance of a topclass performer, yet Cowdray Park started odds-on at his second start, over 1400m at Greyville in a field of 15. He led for most of the way to win well in good time. The field he beat was moderate, and apart from the racetime, there was no telling how good he was.
We did not have to wait long. Just 2 weeks later Cowdray Park took on a strong field in the Gr3 Hollis Futurity Plate over 1600m at Clairwood. He started at 8/10, not exactly value for money on what we had seen of him so far. Jockey Coetzee simply stole the race, hitting the front very early and setting a good pace. Because of that, none of the horses behind him had any chance of making up ground. Cowdray Park simply kept going, and of the others only Honey Bear ran on; the latter had maintained the gap of 3 lengths between him from start to finish. Cowdray Park showed himself to be highclass, be it in a false run race - Honey Bear's performance was more or less equal to his, and might have gone closer had he been handier right from the start.
Cowdray Park's stiffest test came at his 4th and final start, in the Gr1 Administrators Futurity over 1400m at Greyville. In the absence of Main Man, it seemed logical for Bush Telegraph to have been favourite - incredibly Cowdray Park, who on breeding should not be suited by this sharp 1400m, ended up top of the boards at 6/10, with Bush Telegraph at 5/2, Desert Legend 4/1 and Honey Bear an unbelievable 14/1. For the third time in a row Coetzee took Cowdray Park to the front early, setting a fair pace. Pace, track and distance became his downfall, though, and at the 300m mark he failed to accelerate, with Coetzee not persevering once beaten. From having a lead at the 400, to a good length behind at the 200, he finished 8 lengths adrift of Bush Telegraph, who beat Desert Legend and Honey Bear by a length and a bit. Disappointing, perhaps, but certainly not disgraced considering what he was up against, and over what distance. Had he set a faster early pace he might have been closer; under the circumstances the turn of foot of sprint/milers Bush Telegraph and Desert Legend was too much for him, while Honey Bear (bred for a mile) ran perhaps the most remarkable race of all.
The betting of the race further highlighted the evergreen Racefigure farce, Bush Telegraph having a figure of 42, Desert Legend 42, the odds-on Cowdray Park 31 (5 kilos less), and Honey Bear 26 (8 kilos behind) all competing at level weights. That together with the result of the race surely should lead to an inquiry into Racefigures! Honey Bear's Racefigure was increased post-race by a massive 11 points, which makes the mockery even more complete.
After this effort Cowdray Park was gelded and not seen out again before the flu struck.
Cowdray Park is the 4th foal of his dam Green Pastures, who raced with great success in Rhodesia. She won the Rhodesian Guineas, Oaks, Fillies Classic - 8 races in all from 2 to 4 years from 1000 to 2000m. In addition she was placed 12 times. Her first foal Amono, a filly, was born in Zimbabwe, but raced in South Africa where she won 4 races over 1200m at 2 and 3. The second foal Super Bowl (Royal Prerogative) showed promise as a juvenile, but was clearly unsound at a later age and did not win. The third foal (by Royal Prerogative) won over a mile as a 4 year old. After Cowdray Park came a filly by Dowdstown Charley, a juvenile this season.
The second dam Gag Princess bred 6 winners. She was a 2-time winner over 1000m, but appears to have stayed at least 1400m. It seems likely that Green Pastures took after sire New South Wales, and was best from 1600 to 2000m. With Royal Prerogative effective over the same distance, it seems that Cowdray Park will be best from a mile up to 2000m. Bought at the select sales for only R46 000, he seems likely to win his share of races at 3, especially over distances of 1800m and over, where only Honey Bear and perhaps the smart miler Main Man might prove likely competitors. We expect him to do well.
2 ch f Jungle Cove ·Over Royal (Royal Affair)
[1985 1000g* 1000g2 1000g*]
84.0 + (TFR 105)
If track performance is the yardstick by which ability is to be measured, it may seem peculiar that the toprated juvenile filly of 1985/6 is one with winnings of less than R10.000 from 3 starts, and one who did not even take part in a graded race. Sadly the pre-occupation of the South African racing fraternity with Racefigures has caused a decline in the interest and knowledge of real handicapping, the art (or science if you like) of assessing a horse's real ability.
The ability of a horse is present from birth, as a result of genetic fusion. Horses either have it, or they don't. There may be lots of reasons that prevent a horse from showing its natural ability, but given a sound horse and a capable trainer there is every reason to believe that the innate ability will come out on the track. Assessing that ability and expressing it in a figure is done through handicapping.
The beauty of juvenile equine athletes is that they will reveal their natural ability very early on. They don't need to be fully fit, they don't need to run over a suitable distance, even. up to halfway in their second year it is entirely possible to assess the ability of youngsters on the track on that basis, and to make an accurate prediction of their future. Provided of course that they remain sound, race fully fit and according to their preference for certain distances. That is the trainer’s job.
Handicapping juveniles and rating them is mainly a statistical effort. In statistical terms juveniles make up a population in the same way as older horses do. Once a population as a whole has been assessed, and it has been determined how much better or worse than average all horses are, populations can be compared on the same scale. From there it is possible to see how the best horses of different generations and sexes compare. Note that it is essential to handicap all horses, from best to worst, to achieve a measure of accuracy.
Divine Forest made her debut in January of her second year, over 1000m at Milnerton, in rather windy conditions. Looking quite fit and on her toes, she was up with the leaders until the 400m mark, when she simply ran away from the opposition to win in good time by 6 lengths. Most remarkable feature of her win was the manner in which she did it - not with the brilliant acceleration of a topclass performer, on the contrary, she hardly seemed to be galloping. Starting at 6/10 that day, she had obviously shown her connections enough at home, too. She did not run again in the Cape, leaving the Gr3 Fillies Futurity to lesser lights.
Divine Forest made her reappearance in March at Greyville, over 1000m again, starting at odds of 1/3. And was beaten. Perhaps a little over-confidently ridden, she encountered the prototype of a false run race, whereby the pace is deceivingly slow and whereby horses from the back fly up simply because they started their run earlier. Divine Forest failed to quicken, which should by no means be read as an indication that she cannot accelerate - she was beaten by the false pace, it was as simple as that. The time of the race confirms it, too.
We had to wait until May for Divine Forest ?s next appearance, again over the sharp Greyville 1000m. This time no one took any chances. The bookmakers had her at 4/10 and the jockey hit the front a good 300m from home after having raced slightly off the pace. She ran on well to win unextended by almost 5 lengths in fair time, the best run of her short career to date. She was not seen out again. Entered for the Allan Robertson Fillies Futurity (P1200), she pulled a stomach muscle some time before the race and did not run.
A strongly made filly, Divine Forest broke the record price paid for a yearling in South Africa at the 1985 National Sales, changing hands at R240.000. Her dam Over Royal, who raced in Millard's colours, won five times at 2 and 3, over 1000m and 1200m. She is a full sister to Ovarowned (who won 9 races including the WP Colts and Fillies Nurseries, Sceptre Stakes and Paddock Stakes), and half sister to Overfast (by Adamastor, and winner of 13 races up to 1600m in Zimbabwe), to Wayward Son (by Persian Wonder, winner of 9 races up to 2400m), and a number of minor winners. The second dam Flame won 3 races up to 1400m, and is (half)sister to 7 winners around a mile. Before Divine Forest, Hyjo Stud had bred 3 other foals from Over Royal. Judgement Day (by Peaceable Kingdom) won twice as a 3yo over 1200m. Supreme Spirit (by Lords) counted the Ladies Mile and Champagne Stakes among her 8 wins. After slipping a foal by Peaceable Kingdom came Royal Pilgrimage (by Mecca Road), a winner of 2 of his first 4 starts. The foal after Divine Forest was dead at birth, while the next, a colt by Proclaim, is a yearling. Over Royal is again a foal to Jungle Cove.
What about Divine Forest's prospects? Her dam Over Royal was most likely a sprinter. Sire Jungle Cove, who seems to produce the goods year after year, won up to 1900m in the US. There is evidence from his breeding, however, that his real influence is around 1400m. Although on her class Divine Forest might see out a mile, it seems likely that her best performances must be expected up to sprint/miler distances (1400/1600). Divine Forest is almost certainly better than rated and should have an excellent year at 3.
A D Gordon
2 y f Bullshot · Tijuana Girl (Mexico II)
[1985 1000g* 1000g* 1200g* 1400h*]
81.0 + (TFR 98)
Racehorses are full of surprises. None more so than early juveniles. Many a trainer will have watched his juveniles swing along on the bit, doing a good half speed, trying to get an indication of what they're made of. And at the same time trying to remember that the trouble about half speed gallops begins when you try to find the other half. Many a superlative mover has, when it came to the crunch, been unable to go fast enough to catch a number 19 bus. Taking swans for ducks is the easiest thing out. How much more gratifying for a trainer when his duckling turns out to be a swan. Which is exactly what happened to trainer Piet Steyn late in March. Owner-breeder Ben Braam had 2 horses in a juvenile maiden, over the Milnerton 1000. Pennyfive, with 2 races under her girth, had shown fair ability and was backed to 22/10 favourite in a field of 12, which also included the owner's Double Vodka, a first timer in the hands of a different trainer. Pennyfive ran a fair race to finish second to Double Vodka, who simply strolled away to win by 4 lengths in good time. Somewhat embarrassed trainer Steyn greeted his winning owner with the words "I'm sorry, I had no idea she could run like that". In fact Double Vodka appears to be one of those fabulous horses who does what is required, and no more. At home she had taken care of things in her gallops against modest companions, but never by much, hence trainer Steyn's surprise. That this was no flash in the pan Double Vodka showed at her next start, when beating Gold Bracelet, a fluent winner earlier in the season, and a good winner in open company later at 2. Double Vodka won by three quarters, having to battle a bit.
She reappeared a month later in the WP Futurity, over the stiff Kenilworth 1200m. After having been odds-on at her previous start, it came as somewhat of a surprise that she was easy to back at 10/1. In the event she won very well, putting almost 3 lengths between her and the second horse. Double Vodka was given a break until July, when she ran in the Boland Breeders, a race over the stiffish Milnerton 1400 straight course, on heavy going. She met the best of the Cape juveniles at level weights (with sex allowance). Well supported in the betting she won a bit easier than the one and a half length margin suggested, quickening readily after having had a little trouble extracting herself from behind a bunch of horses. She retired for the season, unbeaten.
Double Vodka is from the second crop of the Argentine-bred Bullshot, supported at stud mainly by his owner Braam. He had 4 foals in his first crop, 5 in the next (of which one was Double Vodka) and 3 foals the year after. Bullshot chipped a pedal bone in training at 3; he had shown some promise up to then, winning 3 races. After that he was lightly raced, winning twice more as a 5yo, the last time in the B Division. On performance not quite sire material, one would have said. But Bullshot is well bred and seems likely to have been somewhat impeded by his injury. His dam Uruguayana was one of the best of her generation over sprints in Argentina. She was own-sister to Uruguayo, exported as a sire to the US, and to Utopico, leading sire in Argentina and sire of Tostada and Mazapan, well known in South Africa. Bullshot's sire Martinet had only five crops before his untimely death in 1975. He claimed the title of champion 2yo in Argentina, and sired Calvados and El Gran Capitan (maternal grandsire of Ecurie, and now sire in the US) among others. Bullshot is likely to have been best suited by a mile.
Double Vodka's dam Tijuana Girl was also bred by Braam, as was the next dam Gingham Girl. Tijuana Girl won 3 races, all over 1000m, and clearly was a sprinter. She had one foal before Bullshot, Anisette, which never ran, and Mexican Bull, a colt one year Double Vodka's junior; all are by Bullshot. The second dam Gingham Girl was a maiden, who bred 2 foals, the second of which did not race. Third dam Clothes Pin, a US import, had six foals. Of these the unraced Bikini Bay has done best so far, producing Boomy Hill and Gay Ridge, both useful performers. Amongst the others was Pinafore, who produced the earlier mentioned Pennyfive, also by Bullshot.
Double Vodka clearly is more than a sprinter, and can confidently be expected to stay a mile. Trainer Steyn feels that it's hard to say how good she is, since she does enough to satisfy what is asked of her, but no more. It seems likely that Double Vodka will improve somewhat on her rating at 3, and she appears better placed than most topclass fillies to see out the stiffer test of the graded races for fillies. Double Vodka is an attractive, well made filly, who seems to act on any going. She seems sure to make her presence felt at 3.
3 b f Roland Gardens - Captivation (London Way)
[1984 800g2 800g* 1000g2 1400g* 1200g 1400g* 1600g* 1400g* 1200g4 400g 1985 1400y3 1400g* 1600g* 1200g 1600g4 1800g3 1800g2 2450g* 2000g* 2400g* 2200g3 1800g]
87.0 (TFR 112)
When a good 2yo gets beaten early as a 3yo, racing against its elders, it is amazing to see how many racing ?experts' blindly walk into the Weight for Age trap. "Disappointing run", we read. Or: "Needed run; will improve". Fact is that Weight for Age (or WFA in short) plays as much a role in the performance of a horse as weight penalties given by the handicapper. The omission of WFA from the Racefigure system is perhaps the single biggest shortcoming of that system.
WFA can best be defined as the physical progress a horse makes as it matures. Just in the same way as Zola Budd, under conditions of continuous training, improves her strength of bone and muscle as she matures. The difference is of course that the thoroughbred is uniquely precocious in terms of maturity rate: by the age of 18-24 months the horse will have 95% of its mature height and weight, and by the age of four full maturity will have been reached.
A table, to measure the progress at which maturity takes place, was introduced in 1855 by Admiral Rous, in the UK. It expresses the weight to be carried by horses of different ages, over a set distance, at different times of the year, needed to compensate for the difference in maturity. The official table used in South Africa closely resembles the one used in racing countries all over the world, with not more than cosmetic changes in comparison to the table introduced over a hundred years ago. The table clearly illustrates the principle of how maturity affects performance.
Much more contentious, however, is the extra allowance granted to the female of the thoroughbred species, when she competes against the opposite sex. Racing authorities the world over have not been able to come up with a satisfactory solution. Generally a blanket allowance f 2 kilos is applied, regardless of the distance over which races are run. In South Africa the matter is more complicated. South African racing is typified by the "divide and rule" attitude of the race clubs, and until a while ago the three major centres all applied different allowances for fillies and mares. An attempt to resolve the matter proved rather fruitless. With allowances varying from 1.5 to 2 to 2.5 kilos, it was in the end decided to settle for the road in the middle; all centres now apply a blanket allowance of 2 kilos, regardless of the distance over which races are run.
This is a matter which no racing authority anywhere in the world has been able to satisfactorily resolve. The reason for that is not difficult to pinpoint: none of the official handicappers has ever taken a statistical look at their long handicap, provided they have one, of course! When the International Classification was introduced in Europe a few years ago, the major handicappers still worked the level of ratings of their best rated horses on "feel", rather than statistical fact. The scathing comments of the British Timeform organisation in this context are not in the least surprising until official handicappers start handicapping on a statistically reliable basis, their figures must be suspect.
A 10-year evaluation of Timeform ratings and as well as our own long handicap of the last 3 years shows that in statistical terms the male and female racehorse are members of two different populations, which in handicap terms can be compared, but never mixed. The simplest method to decide what the sex-allowance in weight ought to be if males and females are to be treated on the same basis, is to handicap all horses into a long handicap. Because the sexes mix freely on the racecourse, all can be rated on the same scale. Statistical evaluation of the horse population as a whole (ie all ages), but split by sex, makes it possible to establish a benchmark indicating the handicap rating of the average filly/mare and the average colt/gelding/horse. Both the Timeform figures and our figures throw up the same fact, year after year: there is a difference of 2 to 4 kilos between the sexes, depending on their ages. Perhaps at first surprisingly, the difference is smallest for younger horses, and bigger for older ones. But put into terms of maturity, it starts making more sense: as they grow stronger, the difference3 in maturity-related strength gets bigger.
In real terms this means that comparing the best males with the best females usually throws up a difference of a few kilos in their handicap rating. Seldom do we find a top filly with a rating as high as the one of a top colt. And when a filly crops up with a rating equal or better than that of the best colts, we can be sure that we're dealing with a freak of nature. Enchanted Garden, it appears, is just such a freak.
Enchanted Garden was bred by Ascot Stud. She is by the English 2000 Guineas winner, Roland Gardens out of a dam who won once at 2, over 1000m. She is a halfsister to those good winners over ground, Captive Prince (by Prince Sao) and Captain Ekels (by Jan Ekels). Her dam Captivation must have stayed at least a mile, and probably further. The family gives little clues as to distance on the dam side; most off-spring raced in the Eastern Cape (traditionally a less than reliable indicator), while most took after their sires as far as stamina goes. Only Fire Spirit, a halfbrother to Captivation by Master Polly, and a winner over middle distances could provide the evidence for Captivation having been a middle distance performer. The second dam Voodoo II was a British maiden, by the unfashionable Tropique out of a Nearco mare who won once over 2400m.
Enchanted Garden, a robust, balanced filly and a relentless galloper, appears best suited by distances of more than 2000m. She acts on soft going, and appears bet in races run gently early on. She has had a busy and varied career, where she showed determination and class, improving dramatically towards the end of her third year, after having joined the Millard stable. She has been rated on what appears to be her best performance, in the Rothmans July. Whether that was a true run race or not only time can tell, but her rating certainly suggests that she is the best middle distance filly this country has seen for years. She has no equals. It is to be hoped that Enchanted Garden will continue to race at 4, although winning in races other than WFA will be extremely difficult for her.
2 ch f Trocadero - Footprint (Olean) [1987 1000g*]
The most exciting time in racing in South Africa is from December to March. That's when the new crop of juveniles is best assessed - all youngsters run on ability only, the distance is of virtually no importance (they all race from 800 - 1000m, 1200m at most), nor is fitness a prime consideration as long as the horse has shown it is ready to run.
Not only is this time of year the time when the basis for the long handicap of the new crop is laid, but the first weeding out can be done. The real topclass horses already stand out, the career of most runners can be pictured (A-Division, B-Division, fair winners, modest winners, unlikely winners) and with luck the first-season sires that will make the grade can be pinpointed.
Spotting the real topclass horses usually is rewarding, and pays off as time goes on. What you're looking for is above average ability - the stopwatch initially is the most essential item, split-timing a must.
Actual time recorded by a horse conveys in itself practically nothing. The early pace, the track, the weather - they are elementary components in the evaluation of a race. To assess the real value of time requires quantifying the seemingly imponderable factors, and compensating for their effects.
In general, an evaluation of the time of a race doesn't necessarily tell you how good a horse is; what it does show is how bad he isn't. But a "good" time certainly indicates a good horse - and that's important especially with youngsters. Going only by form, you would only get quick insight if your runner beats what you perceive to be a strong field. Otherwise it'll have to run at least a few races to give an idea, and even then you may not spot the exceptional animal. With time on your side, and the luck of a true run race, you could hit the jackpot very early on in the horse's career, even if all he beats is a field of newcomers.
The current season has been marred by flu in 2 of our 3 major centres, and the assessment of the future career of juveniles had been dealt a severe blow. By April distance suitability and fitness are already starting to become major factors, increasingly so as time goes on. It seems likely that the major juvenile events this season may be less of a guide to the 3yo classics than they usually are. As yet we have spotted very few above average horses, and only a handful potential classic candidates. One of these is Fiji Isle.
Fiji Isle made her debut early in December over 1000m at Kenilworth, in a field of 9. She opened at 8/10, and started 4/10, a clear measure of stable confidence. Always handy, she was shaken up at the 300m mark, where she accelerated so well that Muis Roberts could drop his hands well before the finish. Fiji Isle finished, in fact, in not more than a canter.
This was the first race on the card and the time of 61 seconds at first glance looked fair, not more than that. The fractions were 24.0 (400) - 12.3 (400-600) - 24.5 (600-1000). Next race on the card was for juvenile colts, also over 1000m, with 13 runners, some of which had shown promise in their previous starts. The leading group was compact for most of the way, with the winner running on late to win by 1.75, with the next 6 horses within 2.5 lengths of each other. The fractions were 24.0 (400) - 12.3 (400-600) - 24.3 (600-1000).
Given the obvious standard of the field of colts, the time test puts Fiji Isle's run in quite a different light. She must have shown quite some acceleration at the 300 to be able to record a time equal to the colts, yet to finish in a canter. We can only draw one conclusion: she would have left the colts standing, nevermind the 2 kilo sex allowance. That impression was further emphasised by the times up the straight later in the day, including a 1200m B-Division where the front runner attempted to steal the race. The times of both juvenile races measured up very favourably.
Fiji Isle is a full sister to that grand sprinter Craftsman, who was tried up to a mile, but best over a stiff 1200/1400m. The dam Footprint did not race. So far she has bred 9 foals of racing age, 8 of which have won. The best of the 3 Mexicos was Hot Foot, a winner of 4 races, and dam of the useful sprint/miler Got The Hots (Kama). Bred to Palm Beach, Footprint produced the twice-raced maiden (at 2) Miss Friday, dam of Mister Spain (Spanish Air), a more than useful sprint/miler. Lordship (by Lores) won a race as a juvenile. The 3 Trocaderos are Craftsman, Fiji Isle and Island Gipsy, the latter a useful sprint-winner of 4 races on the Rand, and worth a considerable amount as a broodmare.
The second dam Identity won twice, over 1400 and 1800m, as a 4yo. She has bred some very useful winners, and from her descend such as Palmistry, The Kajar, Swashbuckler, Major Success, Secret Power, etc.
Though Footprint did not race, she seems most likely to have been a sprint/miler or miler, with both her sire and dam in that category.
5 b h Noholme II - Fancifool (Vaguely Noble) (1984 1200g* 1400g* 1600g* 1700g* 1700g* 1985 1600g* 1600g* 2200g2 1986 2000g*)
87.0 (TFR 112)
One of the most neglected aspects of evaluating performance is the effect the pace of a race has on the runners. Unlike the US, where races are usually run at a cracking pace from the start and were it is extremely hard to come from behind on the sharp tracks, South African racing is much better compared to European racing. The nature of our tracks is such that generally tactics take precedence over pace. It is not uncommon to see virtually the same field of horses on different occasions run a race where the pace bears no relation to previous encounters. It depends entirely on whether someone makes the pace or not, and on how fast or slow they go early on. Few trainers are prepared to let their charges race from the front, few jockeys are capable of judging a pace correctly. Indeed, it generally takes a good horse to win a race from end to end.
Yet the horse hardest to beat in any race is a front runner. The explanation for this is in itself quite simple. Take a sprinter, capable of running 1000m in 57 seconds. Given the opportunity to pace himself correctly, a horse like this will reproduce the 57 seconds with regularity. Given a strong build and a short back, weight will have virtually no influence on his performance - whether with 52 or 58 kilos, the time will be the same. If such a horse gets to the front at the beginning of a race, any other horse that races off the pace will have to cover the distance in a faster time to beat the front runner. But if 57 seconds is about as fast as any horse can run (depending on the track where it races), it becomes a mechanical impossibility to come from behind: horses simply cannot run faster than their bodies allow them to, however well they may be off at the weights.
These sort of performances are a handicappers nightmare. The winning horse will be penalised and repeat the performance next time out, with little difference in the relative outcome. Or the pace may be too fast or too slow the time after and the frontrunning horse gets beaten out of sight. From the point of gauging ability, horses that win races from the front in good time are extremely hard to evaluate, except perhaps for distance suitability.
Fools Holme falls in that category at present, and it is with some reservation that we allot him his rating of 87, based on his run in the Champion Stakes, over 2000m at Greyville. For a combination of excellence displayed by horse and jockey, Fools Holme and Felix Coetzee had no equal in all of the Natal season in our opinion. No sooner had the runners left the stalls than Coetzee dashed Fools Holme to the front. In no time the field was strung out, and at the halfway mark backmarker Hot Touch was well over 10 lengths behind. Coetzee judged the pace remarkably well and kept Fools Holme going, quite well extended, to win by 5 lengths and bettering the course record by a full second. Of the horses running off the pace Hot Touch was the only one capable of making up ground in the straight.
That the course record went was in itself not all that significant. The breaking of course and class records had been the order of the day right throughout the Natal season, with the tracks at all three venues in excellent condition for record attempts. There can be little doubt that it was Fools Holmes frontrunning tactics and the ability to keep up the pace over the full distance which made him pulverise his field the way he did.
But how good is Fools Holme? Nothing in any of his previous 8 races (7 of which he had won) made him anywhere near as good as he showed here. The horse had a big reputation, not least because of what both Millard and Coetzee had publicly said about him when due to a hock injury the horse had to be withdrawn from the J&B Met in January. Significantly, though, when Millard was asked in a televised interview round about the time of the Rothmans July, when he regarded as the best horse he ever trained, the champion trainer mentioned three he did not wish to separate - and Fools Holme, we noted, was not one of them.
Fools Holme, born in April 1982, made his debut in January of 1985 over the Milnerton 1200. He had to be fully extended to beat the maiden Branick in a field of five, and looking very much in need of the run. He reappeared four months later in Natal, and won 4 races there, from 1400 to 1700m, up to the B-Division. He clearly was above average, but the system of Racefigure handicapping gave his wins little significance other than that. When we saw him again in November of that year in the Cape, Fools Holme made his A-Division debut, over the Milnerton 1600m far bend. He started at odds of 10/1 on, but in a slow run race failed to impress us despite winning by just over a length from First Choice. It was his failure to accelerate well that disappointed us most - he took a long time to get going and certainly wasn't the easy winner the media had us believe he was. His next mission was to have been the Met, but shortly before the race he injured a hock in his box and had to be withdrawn, leaving Coetzee without a ride in the big race.
Then came the July. There were some rumours as to his well-being after Millard withdrew him from the Republic Day handicap, and there were those who doubted his right to be included in the July field on the strength of just one A-Division win, under 50 kilos at that. Fortunately the horse did have a run before the July, in the Gr1 Schweppes Challenge, over 1600m at Clairwood. When he lined up in a field of 12, his ruling price for the July was an easy 8/1. That eventually he started at even money for the July was partially due to bookmakers having overextended themselves at those long odds, and partially due to his easy win in the Schweppes, where he won (at WFA) by almost 3 lengths from Mauritzfontein. Despite raving comments from most commentators, the Schweppes was not a true indication of Fools Holme's ability. It was a false run race where Fools Holme raced handy behind pacemaker Rise and Rule, who set a somewhat sedate pace. Coetzee made his move quite early to score a comfortable win in slowish time. Mauritzfontein was second, ahead of Rise and Rule, who does not really stay a mile, but who beat champion miler Yamani for third - the latter had raced too far out and with the slow pace simply failed to make up ground. In our opinion there still was no telling how good Fools Holme was.
The July did not do much to help solve the problem. Fools Holme was drawn wide, but Coetzee made an early effort to have him well placed behind pacemaker Occult and accompanied by Model Man and Enchanted Garden, who also raced handy. Although the July was won in record time, the early pace was deceptively slow and when the pace was turned on from about the 1000m (as sectional timing clearly shows, but few in SA racing bother about such futilities) the emphasis was on stamina to see out the distance to the full. With Occult and Enchanted Garden the only two who were really running on at the finish this is further highlighted.
As it was Occult beat Fools Holme a shade comfortably, at level weights of 50.5 kilos, with 3 year old Enchanted Garden (carrying 53 kilos) less than a length away in third. Fools Holme's early efforts to find a position from his wide draw must have taken something out of him, but he looked beaten entirely on merit.
It came as somewhat of a surprise therefore to see Fools Holme start at odds of 5/1 on for the Gr1 Champion Stakes, at WFA over 2000m at Greyville. Admittedly, the field consisted mainly of topclass has-beens, but to hear some commentators state that Fools Holme was "extremely well in at the weights" clearly bordered on the ridiculous, with his run in the July under 50.5 kilos there for all to see. In the event Coetzee took no chances and both he and Millard clearly wanted to know what they had in their stable. Not wishing a repeat of the slow early pace of the July, Fools Holme led from start to finish, to record the best run of his career. But the answer to how good he is cannot be given with confidence. He won the Champion Stakes well, but ridden out, and most probably without much more to come had anyone been able to challenge him. To this the time of the race must bear witness. A look at the race in handicap terms, counting a length as a little less than a kilo, makes Fools Holme more or less the equal of the best horses around, which is most probably what he is. To make him the best horse this country has ever seen is clearly overstating the matter, but only time can prove us right or wrong.
Fools Holme was bought as a foal in the US for $75 000 on account of Cyril Hurvitz and sold last season to his current owners for an undisclosed figure. He is from one of the last US-crops of the ex-Australian Noholme II, sore of US-sires Nodouble, Shecky Greene (in turn sire of champion European miler Green Forest), General Holme, Canadian champion filly Hometown News and Carnuba. His son Anono is at stud in SA.
Noholme II was 12 races in Australia (including the prestigious WS Cox Plate) and the US, up to a mile and a half, but was probably best suited by a little less. Noholme II is by leading Australian sire Star Kingdom (a very fast UK 2yo, racing under the name Star King in 1948), out of Oceans a winning halfsister to the dam of Drum Beat.
Fools Holme's dam managed 2 places from ten starts at 3 and 4. She is own-sister to Mandera (TFR 112), who stayed at least a mile and a half, and who is the dam of St Leger winner and sire Touching Wood (TFR 127k, by Roberto), as well as Irish mile and a half winner Mansky (Nijinsky), a sire in South Africa. The second dam is an unraced halfsister to Bold Ruler and bred 3 other winners besides Mandera.
Fancifool had 2 other foals before Fools Holme. The first, Cut the Fool by Cut Lass (a Damascus sire), was placed in the US. The second, As Sakab,, by Noholme's son Nodouble, was trained in the UK at 2 and 3 and ran his best race when acting as a pacemaker for his winning stable companion At Talaq, in the Grand Prix de Paris (3000m); As Sakab was subsequently transferred to France where he won in handicap company.
On breeding Fools Holme might well be expected to stay a mile and a half, but his record to date suggests that he takes after his sire Noholme II, and will probably be best around 2000m, given a true run race. He is evidently well suited to forcing tactics and needs a true run race to show his very best - he has on occasion lacked acceleration in slow run races. Fools Holme is a wellmade, attractive individual, and has shown himself consistent and game in his 9 starts to date, 8 of which he won. His best opportunities at 5 must lie in WFA races, from 1600m to 2000m, where he will have the opportunity to dictate the pace. In handicap and condition races (such as the July and the Met) his chances of winning will very much depend on weights allocated to him, and the pace at which these races are run, we would think twice before backing him with confidence.
7 b h Moulton - Fairly Hot (Sir Ivor) [1982 - 1984 16 starts in Europe and US from 1600 to 2400 for 2 wins 1985 1400g3 1600g3 1600g* 2000g 1600g 1900g 1800g 1986 2000g3 2400*]
82.0 (TFR 101)
One f the more intriguing aspects of bloodstock selection is the prediction of a horse's best distance. There can be little doubt that there are many distinct distance categories (we count at least 8 between distances from 1000 to 2000m) - logically, the more often a horse races over his best distance, the better his chances of showing his best form. That apart from the vital task of adjusting the training programme to his best distance.
Surprisingly, few people in racing appear to put emphasis on determining the most suitable distance for a horse. We have yet to see a breeders yearling advertisement where the distance for which the horse is bred is mentioned. Trainers generally try a horse over a variety of distances, to find out what suits bets- with at least a third of all races in South Africa run at a false pace that can be a trying task at times.
Pedigree is used to a large extent to give an indication, but unless you know what you're looking at confusion reigns here too. One tool used the world over, is the average winning distance of a sires progeny. Apart from the obvious shortcomings (the influence of the mares he is mated to is ignored), this is a lengthy business, since a sire will have to have several crops of racing age above 2 to give a true indication. Since it should make sense to incorporate distance suitability at the planning stage of a mating, some other tool must be found.
The first question to be asked is what exactly in a horse makes him suitable for a certain distance. Conformation, structure of lungs, heart and muscle spring to mind. Evidence from human athletes seems to point at muscle structure as the overriding factor in the capacity to stay a distance, with the others as not unimportant supporting factors. Muscle cells are found to consist of a random mixture of fibres, distinguished as slow twitch (ST), fast twitch (FT) and other sub-categories, which can adapt to resemble either ST or FT fibres. In a nutshell, the balance of FT and ST fibres in the mixture determine what effort the horse is capable of, and how long he can keep up the effort, given support provided by heart and lungs, and given efficiency of movement determined through conformation.
Taking this as a basis, we have for several years underwritten the theory that muscle structure is genetically determined, and in fact directly inherited from either sire or dam. In other words, a horse's best distance is the best distance of either his sire, or his dam. No in-betweens, no need to look for influence from further back in the pedigree which might have skipped a generation. Our evaluation of thousands of horses on the track appears to give strong support to this assumption.
The most difficult part is to establish what the best distance of the parents was. Generally, for sires this is easiest, since most are above average performers, and well exposed at that. European sires, usually with Timeform documentation on their career available are easiest to analyse. US-sires can provide puzzles, mainly because of the US-style of racing and the nature of their tracks which frequently disguises distance requirements. Real problems usually are encountered on the dam side, especially if the dam is unraced, or lightly raced, or only won once or twice. In those cases further evidence will have to be found close up in the pedigree - often a confusing exercise. To illustrate this point, analysis of the pedigree of Hot Touch provides food for thought.
Sire Moulton (TFR 128) won from 1800 to 2200m, he was never tried beyond 2200, although Timeform in its comment has little doubt he would have stayed further. Well, could he?
His sire Pardao (TFR 120), third in the Derby, fourth in the St Leger, winner of the Jockey Club Cup (2400m) and winner of a 2800m handicap in the US, showed his best form over 2400m. To analyse his damline we start with Moultons granddam Horama, a good sprinter, best over 1000. Horama produced the mare Urshalim (by Nasrullah), a smart miler. Mated to staying sires Pinza, Shantung and Pardao, Urshalim produced respectively Violetta III, Irish 1000 Guineas winner Lacquer and the speedy 1000 Guineas 3rd Sovereign, all of whom were milers. Mated to Nijinsky, Sovereign became the dam of Lucky Wednesday, who took after his sire and stayed 2400m.
Back to Horama. Mated to Drum Beat's halfbrother and 2000 Guineas winner Nearula (by Nasrullah), she produced the speedy juvenile Close Up (TFR 117), who only showed form at 2. That Close Up was not a sprinter but a miler, can be concluded from her matings to staying sires Shantung, Ballymoss and Relko, which produced respectively the milers Promontory and Closeness, and Derby 3rd Freefoot, who took after Relko and stayed at least 2600m.
Moulton then, by 2400m hors ePardao out of miler Close Up, could either have been a miler or a 2400m horse. Since he won from 1800 to 2200m in the best company, he must have stayed 2400m, even though never tried. On this side of Hot Touch pedigree our either/or theory fits a neat pattern.
The dam side of Hot Touch pedigree is not so neat. Dam Fairly Hot (TFR 109) won only once, but was placed in strong company. Rather temperamental Timeform describes her as staying at least 2000m. Besides Hot Touch she bred Hussar, a winner in Belgium, and the temperamental maiden Susanna, neither of which provide any clues. Fairly Hot was by Sir Ivor (TFR 135), a Derby winner, but likely to have been best around 2000m.
The dam Full Dress II (TFR 115), by staying sire Shantung, won the 1000 Guineas after surviving an objection. She finished only 8th in the Oaks, but refused to settle that day. She is halfsister to 3 good staying fillies and should have stayed further than her record suggests, with both her sire and dam 2400m performers. Evidence of this comes from a halfbrother to Hot Touch, Mill Plantation (TFR 90), by Northfields. Mill Plantation won up to 2000m and stayed 2400m; given Northfields influence as a miler, that makes both Full Dress II and Fairly Hot 2400m performers.
We can thus rewrite Hot Touch pedigree in distance, and predict his best distance.
Our rule of thumb predicts Hot Touch to be best suited by 2400m. Let us see how this fits in with his racing career.
Rather backward, he ran once at 2 over 1600 on dead going, for a fourth. At 3 he won once and was placed 4 times from 8 starts (TFR 1260). He won the Mecca Dante Stakes (York, 2100m), and was beaten a neck in the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup (York, 2100m). He ran disappointingly at Royal Ascot (2400) and in the September Stakes (Kempton 2200m). Timeform doubted his ability to stay beyond 2200m, but perhaps significantly his best performances came on left handed tracks, his worst on right handed tracks. Royal Ascot was his only attempt at 2400m, but we feel the bend may have had its effect on Timeform's analysis.
At 4 Hot Touch ran 7 times for 1 win an d8 places (TFR 122). He won the Hessen Pokal (Frankfurt, 2000m), and was placed in the UK and France, before finishing a respectable 5th to John Henry in the Arlington Million (2000m). He did not race beyond 2000m.
After that he came to South Africa. Treated rather indifferently by the Natal handicappers, he received a Racefigure of 64, which related neither to his number of wins overseas, nor to his obvious ability; rather a peculiar approach to factual evidence, one might say.
His first season was generally disappointing. He won his 3rd start narrowly, in a fast run 1600, ran unplaced after that in the J&B Met (K2000), which was run at a slow pace on the awkward old course (he reportedly injured himself). He was then tried in blinkers over 1600, 1800 and 1900, but ran disappointingly.
His first good run in South Africa came just after the start of the new season in the Champion Stakes (D2000), where the pace was a scorcher. Hot Touch raced well off frontrunner Fools Holme, but was the only horse running on at the end, and in fact finished very well to clinch third on the line. On that performance his chance in the Clairwood Gold Vase (C2400) became an obvious one. He clearly had come right and tried what appeared to be a suitable distance on a suitable for the first time in his career. Well off at the weights, eh was easy to back at 7/1.
Drawn right on the outside in a field of 17, and with the start on the bend, he might have been expected to take things easy early on. He broke last, but quickly passed the field, without ever being pushed, to find a spot ahead of the main bunch, somewhat off the runaway pacemaker Noble Clover. Always going very easy and well within himself, he hit the front coming off the false rail on entering the straight. He quickly took a couple of lengths and was never in any danger, his jockey dropping the hands well before the finish. The winning distance of three quarters of a length from some fast finishing horses certainly was no reflection of the ease with which he won. The time was good, and there can be little doubt that this was the Hot Touch we had waited for so long to see. That he showed his form again over a distance of 2400m in a true run race on a lefthanded track looks to be more than a coincidence.
Hot Touch is an attractive, good bodied individual. Not surprising with his sire described by Timeform as big, strong and attractive, and his dam as strong and good-bodied. He has been tried in blinkers, but did as well without. He acts on any going and looks well suited by some give in the ground. He appears to have a clear preference for left handed tracks.
It appears that Hot Touch stays in training. With his now generous looking Racefigure in the region of 73, he looks certain to pull his weight both in handicaps and races run at WFA over at least 2000m and run at a good pace. Given the likely opposition, his starting price should be more than attractive to most of us, even at an each-way level. We look forward to see more of him this season.
3 bc Roland Gardens - Home Honey (Jamaico)
[1985 1200g* 1200y 1600g2 1400g3 1800g* 1986 1600g* 1600g*]
84 (TFR 105)
When the Millard trained newcomer Shiznai was backed to odds-on on Met Day 1986, another first-timer Honey Bar drifted from 3/1 to 7/1. That, however, did not prevent Honey Bear's connections from having a nice touch - Honey Bear won his first start impressively by 2 l3ngths from Shiznai, in good time at that. He earned a Raceform rating of 83 on that effort, putting him slightly behind the best of his age.
Honey Bear reappeared 2 months later on the Rand, in the Gr1 SA Nuersery won by Main Man on soft going. Drawn 1 he raced midfield, without making much progress. He was beaten 11 lengths, rather a disappointing effort.
Moved to Natal after that, he reappeared in the Gr3 Hollis Memorial over 1600m at Clairwood. Starting at 14/1 he put up a bold show, by finishing 3 lengths second behind odds-on favourite Cowdray Park. What struck us most was that Honey Bear maintained the gap of about 3 lengths between him and Cowdray Park virtually from start to finish - making his performance as good as that of the winner.
When the two met again, 4 weeks later in the Gr1 Administrators, returning from 1600m to 1400m (which certainly was not in Cowdray Park's favour), it was rather strange to find Cowdray Park at 6/10 (that against Bush Telegraph!), and Honey Bear at 14/1, certainly no reflection of their chances. In the event Cowdray Park was found out by the distance and ran unplaced, while Honey Bear was beaten half a length and one and a quarter behind Bush Telegraph and Desert Legend, and running on nicely.
The Gr2 Computaform Stakes over the Clairwood 1800 saw renewed rivalry between Desert Legend and Honey Bear. With the former far less likely to stay a true run 1800 than Honey Bear, their respective SP of 12/10 and 33/10 was hardly a reflection of their chances. The expected good pace materialised through Pedometer; Honey Bear raced handy all the way, to win comfortably by a length from Pedometer, with Desert Legend 3 lengths adrift in fifth. The latter had been ridden correctly for a horse without stamina, but simply did not stay the 1800 with the pace on from the start.
A fortnight later Honey Bear, just turned three, made no mistake in the Gr2 Summerveld Stakes. He started joint favourite with Millard trained Mark Anthony at 12/10, but for once Felix Coetzee was outfoxed when Honey Bear led all the way at a strong gallop, to win by a good 2 lengths in record time. This was the best run of his career, rated 84.
He reappeared in the Cape early December after a 4 month layoff, in the Gr2 Computaform Stakes, over 1600m on the tight Kenilworth old course. Starting 7/10 favourite, he raced off the pace in a race run at a fast pace right from the start; Roberts had some difficulty extracting him at the 300m from a bunching field of tiring horses, but once in his stride again he quickened well to win impressively, breaking the track record in the process.
A select colt, Honey Bear was bought at R36 000 a shrewd buy by Roland Gardens fan, Ralph Rixon.
He was the 5th foal and first colt of his dam Home Honey, four of which have raced. Honeyeater (Copper de Luxe) won 7 races up to 1200, and was placed in the Boland Breeders, Majorca, Diana and Gr3 Sceptre Stakes; she stayed at least 1400m. Honey Bird (Lords) won 8 races, up to 1800m and was sold after 6 wins for R55 000 at the 1985 Goodwood Summer Sales, an excellent buy.
Home Honey, the dam, won 3 races at 3 up to 1300m. She is halfsister to Gallant Prince (Prince Tor), winner of 10 races up to 1300, to Sports Editor (Sun Compass) who won 5 times up to a mile, and to Stinger (Dioniso), winner of 10 races up to 1800m. Despite her track record, there can be little doubt that Home Honey's most suitable distance was from 1600 to 2000m.
Sire Roland Gardens has a sound track and stud record. Rated 122 by Timeform, he is the winner of 3 races including the Gr1 2000 Guineas. For the benefit of those of you who may frown at a 2-time winner taking part in a country's major classic over a mile, let alone win - yes, for those of you who still do not appreciate the difference between real handicapping and Racefigure handicapping, let us quote from Timeform on Roland Gardens' 2 year old career.
"Had Roland Gardens' two-year-old career culminated with his two-length win over Sunday Morning in the Knole Stakes at Lingfield in September, he would probably have appeared in this Annual assessed in a half dozen lines of note form as likely to make up into just a fair handicapper. And judging form the weight he was receiving in end-of-season nurseries, he would have started his three-year-old career on the same handicap mark as horses like Iliad and Mandrian, as much as 15 lb behind the useful Soldiers point. But Roland Gardens was allowed to take his chance in the Group 3 Horris Hill Stakes at Newbury after winning at Lingfield, and he justified his inclusion as a runner in that race by getting to the post first, half a length in front of the dead-heaters Derrylin and Persian Bold, whom he was meeting at levels. The only trouble was that he got there by foul means rather than fair. Making his challenge on the outside of Derrylin and Persian Bold entering the final furlong, Roland Gardens hung badly left away from the whip, severely interfering with Derrylin, whom he pumped onto Persian Bold, and continuing to hamper Derrylin afterwards until Baxter put his whip down and pulled him off close home. A stewards inquiry was immediately announced, two objections quickly followed, and the upshot of it all was that Roland Gardens was disqualified and placed third. Thus the connections of Roland Gardens had taken away from them a valuable race which would probably have been theirs by right had their horse kept a straight course. Just as serious, Roland Gardens had been exposed to the handicapper for what amounted to a consolatory third dividend of 1.738 pounds. But for this race, the horse might easily have won three or more handicaps as a three-year-old before the handicapper caught up with him. As it is, the result of the race leaves the official no option but to hoist Roland Gardens well up the ladder and in the Two-Year-Old Free Handicap Roland Gardens has been given 8-10, 7 lb more than Soldiers Point, an increase on his end-of-season nursery assessment of 22 lb!"
Honey Bear, a balanced, attractive looking colt, has shown his best form in a fast run mile, but showed to stay 1800 in good company. Although we expect him to be best around a mile, he has the class to make his presence felt from 1600m to 2000m. he seems likely to contest whatever will be left of the classics this year - although perhaps not capable of winning, he is sure to go close. He is as game as they come.
2 b f Jungle Cove - Classic Art (Jan Ekels)
[1985 1200g* (disq) 1100g* 1200g*]
82.0 + (TFT 101)
Cases of mistaken identity are not uncommon in horse racing. When the produce of a stud enter a trainer's stable, it is quite simple to accidently switch nametags. Fortunately the Jockey Club have a series of control, which appear to be virtually failsafe. Hardly ever does a horse that is not a horse see the racetrack undetected. Nevertheless, racing literature is full of mischievous misrepresentations. The most famous is perhaps the affair concerning Running Rein, a disguised 4 year old who won the Epsom Derby, only to be disqualified thanks to the efforts of Lord George Bentinck. Bentinck had been largely instrumental in the cleaning up of English racing in the mid 1800s, be it in rather dictatorial vein. Curiously in the context of Jungle Class, who won her first race running as the British import Miss Lobkowiez, a precedent exists. In 1838 a horse called Louthenbourg won the Goodwood Stakes. Lord Bentinck, who owned the runner-up, objected to Louthenbourg on the grounds that his breeding was misrepresented. The matter was referred to the Jockey Club, where members were asked to decide on a question of racing law: "Mr Theobald's horse Louthenbourg having won the Goodwood Stakes this year, and the pedigree under which that horse started in 1837 having been ascertained to be a false pedigree by an investigation which has taken place since the race in 1838, is Louthenbourg thereby disqualified and the second horse St Luke entitled to the stake?". It was agreed that those members of the Jockey Club who had no interest in the race (Bentinck was a member) should consider this point. Of the 13 members 8 voted that Louthenbourg should not be disqualified.
Miss Lobkowiez, or rather Jungle Class, was not so fortunate. After she had won, as a 2yo, in 3yo maiden company by a good four lengths over P1200, she had her winning stake taken away from her at a subsequent inquiry. She started at 12/10, and all bets were settled as if she had won. Her disqualification somehow infuriated the bookmaking fraternity to such an extent that they refused to be on her when Jungle Class reappeared 3 weeks later in a Juvenile maiden race. Although we are under the impression that bookmakers are obliged to price up for every race they stand up at, it is perhaps prudent not to comment here. Jungle Class, unaware of the controversy, skated in by 12 lengths. She repeated the performance less than 3 weeks later, winning by 9 lengths in a fillies juvenile handicap, which of course was run under Racefigure conditions, rather than real handicap conditions.
Although Jungle Class only ran 2 official races, and in the lowest company, she gave something away when winning her very first start in open company. Only the really good 2yo can win in open company, and the manner in which she won that race earned her an ability rating close to that of the best fillies of her year. Considering that she has as yet not been extended, she should be better than rated - which puts her at the top of the tree, despite never having met any horses of her own calibre.
Jungle Class was bred by Scott Bros. She is yet another topclass performer in the 1983 crop of champion sire Jungle Cove (Bush Telegraph and Divine Forest the other two) and the second foal of her dam Classic Art, who failed to make the frame in 2 starts as a juvenile. The first foal was Classic Mask (by Moomba Masquerade), a winner over 1300 at 3 in Natal. A full sister to Jungle Class was sold at the 1986 National Sales for the bargain sum of R16 000 - buyer J H Ward will be eternally grateful for the mix up in identity, since it is unlikely that Classy Play would have gone for that price had not Miss Lobkowiez taken on her own-sister's identity. The second dam Amusette won over 1000m and 1200m at 3. She had two other foals besides Classic Art, both modest winners over around a mile. Amusette is out of the useful sprinter Amusement, dam of Party Piece (Jungle Cove), a very useful sprinter, who in turn in the dam of Special Party (Foveros), a winner in Natal this season at 2, and a likely middle distance performer.
The big question is: how far will Jungle Class stay? Her halfbrother Classic Mask has improved early at 4 when trying a mile, but being by middle distance horse Moomba Masquerade that in itself proves little. Dam Classic Art provides no clues. Second dam Amusette won up to 1200 at 3, but has Sport King (who won a mile and is by sprint/mile influence Jungle Cove) and Regal Rapture (by sprint/mile influence Regal Raja, and a winner over 1400 and 1600 on the Rand). Amusette may on that evidence well have been suited by a mile (Ambiopoise). If that is the case then Classic Art must have stayed at least a mile. Although Jungle Class efforts late at 2 suggest that she takes after Jungle Cove and will probably be best over up to 1400, it is not impossible that she might get a mile. IF that is the case she should improve on her rating, and in doing so will become a major contender in the big fillies races as a 3yo. With such as Divine Forest in similar circumstances we have much to look forward to.
H W Brown
3 b c Pitskelly - Wild Berry (Reform) [1986 1000g* 1000g* 1000g*]
77.0+ (TFR 90+)
The Valley Stud has in recent years had great success with the marketing of unusual (by South African standard) animals. They were the first to successfully explore weanling sales, and have been equally successful in offering wellbred yearlings of sires standing overseas. Their operations is geared towards preparation for the sales, rather than as a stud in the traditional sense, and have over the years built an excellent reputation in that respect. Even though the Valley Stud does not feature in the breeders statistics by virtue of the fact that they are agents and not breeders, the percentage of winners from yearlings sold under their banner is one of the highest in the country. Such success clearly brings in more breeders wishing to benefit from the Valley Stud reputation, but it is to be hoped that stringent pre-selection of yearlings will continue to be a priority, even though financial temptation must be hard to resist. The Valley draft at the 1986 Goodwood Sales (not normally a hunting ground for high prices) consisted of 7 animals, of which 3 were by overseas sires. Flirting Free by Hello Gorgeous out of a French bred dam of a winner in Ireland) made R26 000. North Avenue (by Northfields out of a halfsister to Derby runner-up Carlingford Castle) went for R40 000. Sales topper was the Irish bred Kellys Wild, for whom Mr and Mrs Lipschitz paid R62 000.
Even at the sales Kellys Wild looked an imposing animal. Well topped and strong quartered, he was born in May 1984, and therefore a little older than most other yearlings offered at these January Sales. Technically Kellys Wild was listed as a 2yo. He saw the track for the first time in September of this year, when 2 years and 4 months old. Now listed as a 3yo, he represented the equivalent of a juvenile racing in open (maiden) company in February! At Weight-for-Age terms he was ata a disadvantage of somewhere in the region of 10 kilos with the other maidens. That did not prevent him from skating in by a good seven-and-a-half lengths, in a good time for the day. Not surprisingly his starting price was 1 to 3. A month later he repeated the performance, this time at Germiston, winning by just under 3 lengths after having been with the pace all the way. Again the time was a good one, his starting price 1 to 5. Another month later, he carried 57 kilos to victory in Graduation company at Gosforth Park, winning by a length and a half at odds of 1 to 5. Again the time was a good one on the day. Quite some performance, considering that in real terms we are looking here at a 2-time winning juvenile, taking on his elders in open company, under 57 kilos in April/May. And winning well. Since Weight-for-Age is a comparative weight allowance which compensates for immaturity, Kellys Wild rating does not reflect his true ability, for the simple reason that he is categorised under Jockey Club rules as a 3yo. With his real WFA-deficit in the region of 8 kilos, his effective rating should be in the region if 85, on which he might be able to improve.
Kellys Wild was sired North-of-the-Line and imported in utero in January 1984. His sire Pitskelly had a Timeform rating of 122, and he won the Tote Free Handicap as a 3yo. By the highclass sprint/miler Petingo out of a sprinting mare (who probably stayed 1400m if her offspring is anything to go by), Pitskelly proved himself best suited by a good 1400m. He became the sire of My Lover, a useful juvenile in the UK and now at stud in South Africa, the highclass French winner Mourjane and that smart filly (and Robert Papin winner) Pitasia, among others. The dam Wild Berry never ran. The second dam Secret Session (TFR 102) was a useful miler who ran 6 times at 3 for 2 wins and 4 places, the latter in the Nassau Stakes and Cherry Hinton Stakes. She is the dam of 6 winners. Her first was Rock Roi (by Mourne, TFR 126), an outstanding stayer with a TFR of 127, who has the distinction of being disqualified as the winner of the Ascot Gold Cup for two years in succession. The second Millenium (by Aureole) and the third Queens Parole (by Worden) both won in France, the former a very smart middle distance performer. The fourth was Golden Swan (by Crepello), who had a TFR 103, and who won in the UK and France over a mile. Then came Russian Prince (by Amber Rama) with a TFR of 92, who won in France over 1800m. Finally, middle distance winner Grandiose (by Grundy) stayed well and won 3 races as a 3yo (TFR 95). It seems fairly certain that Wild Berry must have been a miler, who might have stayed 2000m. Both her dam and her sire Reform (TFR 132) were most effective over the mile and both perhaps having stayed the 2000. With sire Pitskelly a 1400m performer, who appeared not to stay the mile, Kellys Wild is certain to stay a good 1400m. Whether he has inherited enough of his dams stamina to stay the mile only time will tell. The temptation to let Kellys Wild take his chances in the top events for 3yos must be great, certainly the easy mile of the Richelieu Guineas must be within his compass. But by February of 1987 he will still be at a Weight-for-Age disadvantage of in the region of 5 or 6 kilos with his so-called contemporaries. To beat the likes of Main Man and Bush Telegraph under those circumstances would mean that Kellys Wild would be the best 3yo this country has ever seen, putting him on par with the best in the world. With the WFA disadvantage still at around 3 kilos during the Natal season of 1987, it may well be until next season before Kellys Wild reaches the top in in our country. That he will get to the top seems, on his first performances, beyond any doubt. The when of it gives rise to exciting speculation of the wildest kind. Certainly Mr and Mrs Lipschitz will at last be getting a just return for their continued and most persistent investment in the racing industry.
2 db c Trocadero ·Madam Magic (Adamastor)
[1985 1000y* 1000g* 1200y* 1200g* (disq)]
88.00 (TFR 114)
If trainers and jockeys opinions are anything to go by, 1985/6 must have been a vintage season for juveniles. Trainer Gordon Magner has Pasqueflower, who carries all before her at the training gallops, including older top division performers. Trainer Abercrombie and jockey Puller regard Bush Telegraph the best horse either has ever been associated with. Trainer Heming and jockey Turner have similar opinions of Main Man. Our ratings of most of these horses seem to indicate that they may well have a point, especially when compared to the ratings of the older generations. But reputations are made on the track, not in the trainer's yard, and several of the contenders have quite a reputation to live up to in their classic season at 3.
Main Man has done more than most to justify his connections opinion. A relatively cheap yearling at R36 000, he certainly has proved a bargain at the price. He made his first appearance on softish ground at Turffontein, over 1000m, and opened his account by a good six lengths at odds of 6/10. Three weeks later, at Germiston, he led a similar procession, again at odds of 6/10, winning by over 7 lengths in good time. He faced a much stiffer test at his next start, over the Turffontein 1200 on soft going, in March. As usual racing with the pace, he quickened well to win by 3 lengths in excellent time for the day. Again his odds were 6/10. This proved to be his first and only win for the season in a Gr1 race, and although his victory was an impressive one, the form of this race, the SA Nursery, did not work out very well. None of the horses closest behind him managed to win again in their next starts. It was because of this that we had some doubt as to his ability to compete with Bush Telegraph in the Smirnoff Plate (P1200) at his next engagement, in May. The latter had earned himself an exceptionally high rating, and had impressively scored n the Gr2 Nursery Futurity at Milnerton.
Main Man faced a strong field, giving weight to all but 3 of the 15 contenders. The validity of Racefigures had once again to be questioned, with the figure of Main Man 1 higher (38) than that of Bush Telegraph (37) - on what basis we cannot for the life of us imagine, since both were unbeaten in their three only starts. That the handicapping of juveniles with Racefigures is rather a ridiculous exercise was further illustrated on July day, where in the Gr1 Administrators (level weights) the figure for the odds-on favourite Cowdray Park was 31, against 42 for the highest rated horses Bush Telegraph and Desert Legend, and the figure for Honey Bear (beaten juts on a length) not more than 26. And it was not as if Cowdray Park and Honey Bear did not have the form - using real handicapping the Racefigures for both were a mockery. Although Racefigures have a role to play in South African racing, for better class horses the racing authorities might do well to look for a more satisfactory method of framing races.
With the race run at a cracking pace from the start, Main Man was content to race a little off the pace, before being taken to the front at about the halfway mark. Just after the 400m mark he found Bush Telegraph at his quarters and the two quickly pulled clear of their field. Hanging rather badly to his right in the last 100m, Main Man held off Bush Telegraph by a short head, only to lose the race on objection. Both colts showed determination and ran this stiff 1200 in good time, to confirm their class. The connections of Main Man were clearly unhappy about the outcome of the objection, feeling confident that Bush Telegraph would not have beaten them under any circumstances. They issued a challenge to the connections of Bush Telegraph, for a match to be staged early in their 3yo season for a stake of R100 000 - but in the Transvaal and over 1200m. This was rather a peculiar offer, since the Gr1 Administrators was still to be run in July (and Bush Telegraph had every intention of running there0. Given the uncertainties that surround the running of any match-race (tactics, jockeyship) and added to this the difficulties Bush Telegraph would have in facing the altitude, it is indeed fortunate that the match will not take place. Reputations are made on the racetrack in proper races, not under artificial circumstances, which prove nothing. It was a pity therefore that Main Man did not race again at 2.
Main Man, a select purchase at the 1985 National Sales, was bred by HL Starke. He is a halfbrother to Gr1 Paddock Stakes winner My Magic (by Peaceable Kingdom), and to Powershift and Princeps, both winners, and by the same sire as My Magic. The dam slipped a foal by Peaceable Kingdom the year after Main Man was born.
Madam Magic raced only at 3, winning one race over 1000m, but there is little doubt that she must have stayed at least a mile. The second dam Magical produced five winners from seven foals, including Hecate (by Wilwyn), the dam of Hidden Magic and High Fling, both top division performers. Magical herself won 2 races, over 1000 at 2 and over 1800 at 3, and ran second in the SA Oaks.
Main Man's sire Trocadero is generally regarded as a sire of sprinters, but in our opinion an influence up to a stiff 1400. We confidently predict Main Man to stay 1400, and in view of his excellent effort in March over a stiff 1200 on soft ground expect him to get a stiff mile. If that is the case, and taking into account his willingness to race handy in fast run races, he may yet be the brightest prospect for Triple Crown honours in recent years. It takes an exceptional horse to win the sharp sprint/miler Milnerton Richelieu Guineas, the Southern Sun Classic (Germiston 1800), and the rather easy SA 2000 at Greyville. Given his trainers thoroughness and expertise he is certain to be ready for it.
3 br c Elliodor - Top Model (Filipepi)
[1984 1200g* 1985 1200g* 1600y* 1600y* 1400g* 1600g 1400g* 1600g4 2000g2 2200g4 1800g*]
86.0 (TFR 109)
Much has changed in recent years in the marketing and promotion of stallions. South Africa has caught up with the rest of the world; virtually every stallion taking up stud duty in our country can rest assured that his background is well advertised. That is not to say that good advertising makes good stallions. The axioma that advertising makes a bad product fail faster goes for stallions as for any other consumer product. The heavier a stallion is promoted, the larger his book of mares, and the quicker results can be judged on track performance, for better or worse.
In the past emphasis in South Africa has been on European speed horses, or at best milers, rather than on real classic horses (comparable in stamina to those capable of winning en Epsom Derby). The latter category was always under-patronised and consequently less sought after by stallion importers. Recently that emphasis has changed from European horses to those coming from the US, of which as yet only Jungle Cove has been able to consistently make his mark. European horses, especially those who performed over a measure of ground, need more than promotional help to be accepted by South Africans, who tend to breed commercially rather than with the objective to improve the breed.
nd and a 3rd in useful company. Timeform gave him a rating of 114, with the added note "likely to make a smart 3yo". Due to a tendon injury Elliodor did not race again and retired to stud in South Africa in his fourth year. Had he been a US stallion with similar credentials, breeders would in all likelihood have fallen over each other to patronise him. Such are the fortunes of fashion.
After that first book of 14, Elliodor covered 16 mares in his 2nd season, and 9 the next. But his revenge was sweet. Of his first crop of 13 foals, a large proportion of which only saw the track late at 2 or early at 3, 12 have run and 9 won. Statistically certainly well above average, and with such as Lyphards Dream, Superfly, West of Eden, and Model Man amongst them, Elliodor's future is secure.
Model Man made his debut in July of his juvenile days. He won his first five starts in a row, including the Gr2 SA Invitation Stakes (P1600). He met and beat the best on 2 occasions, both times on soft ground over a mile, in races run at less than a true pace. He showed himself to have impressive acceleration. By a sire likely to have been best up to 2000m, out of a dam who clearly carried an influence around 1400m, our rule of thumb prediction was that Model Man was either going to be best around 1800/2000, or best around 1400. His early efforts made us conclude that he was a 1400m performer, especially in view of his acceleration in slow run miles. Good as he was, we placed him somewhat behind the best of his generation.
th, beaten 2 lengths. There were those who were of the opinion that Model Man would have won but for the interference; we did not share those views - we made Model Man best over less and thought he would probably not have had the strength to battle it out. How wrong we were!
A horse that is campaigned over the wrong distance, usually is a good few kilos superior when tried over the right distance. Under normal circumstances topclass horses race early at 2, when ability is revealed and the right distance is still relatively unimportant. Then when those horses start running below their best form, the first thing to look for is distance suitability. But Model Man only started racing late at 2, when racing over the right distance is much more essential. So when Model Man next tackled Potomac in the SA 2000 there were two possibilities. Either he would not stay and run below best. Or he would stay (which on breeding was entirely possible) and improve dramatically on his form - which we saw as unlikely, given his impressive form and turn of foot over 1400, and slow run miles on soft. In the event Model Man did stay, and he did improve. In a heroic battle he was just shaded by Potomac, after shifting markedly in the closing stages, but for which he might have won. The pace was hot, the time fast and the race an exceptional one, reminiscent of the battle between Grundy and Bustino at Ascot in the seventies, billed as the Race of the Century. This was beyond doubt the best race of the SA season.
Potomac, after an already long and hard season, did not recover from the race. Model Man, on the other hand, reappeared a month later in the Rothmans July (D2200). Always well placed, he ran a good race, but may have found the distance just a little beyond him. Incredibly, he reappeared just 3 weeks later to take his chance in the Mainstay (C1800). IN what may well have been the best race of his career, Model Man found himself badly drawn in a field of 15. Contrary to his previous runs, he raced well off the pace in a very fast run race, to produce breathtaking acceleration in the straight, overtaking most of the field and winning going away. This was the real Model Man, probably over his best distance. With hindsight, he could never have won the sharp Richelieu Guineas mile. Equally, he must have been very unlucky not to have won the Chris Smith Guineas, knowing what we do now.
Model Man, a strongly made individual in the mould of his sire and grandsire, was bred by Odessa Stud. His dam Top Model won 5 races up to 1400m, probably her best distance. She had 4 foals before Model Man, all of which are winners. Top Model was the only produce of her dam True Beauty, a winner of 4 races from 1400m to 1800m. Third dam Otomie's five runners (from 6 foals) were all winners.
Model Man proved himself extremely genuine and consistent at 3, both on good and soft ground, and appears best suited by distances from a mile to a mile and a quarter. He has an impressive turn of foot, the hallmark of class, and must be expected to confirm his ability next season. We look forward to that.
4 ch g Kama - Star (Aureole)
[1982 NR 1984 1000g* 1200g2 1600g2 1900g* 1985 1800g* 2000g* 1800g2 1800g2 1400g2 1600g 1900g* 2200g* 1986 3200g*]
85.0 (TFR 107)
Each year the South African Jockey Club publishes a Supplement to the General Studbook of South Africa. It contains the record of births of all foals registered within a generation, listed by sire, and includes their dates of birth. The statistics over the years show that birthdates follow a pattern. One third of all foals are born in October, just under 30% in September about 15% in August, and the remainder, a good 20% in November or later. Birthdates are related to the Weight for Age rule of racing, a rule which shows the physical progress a horse makes as it matures. A table, in use in racing countries all over the world, shows the level of improvement a horse makes. This improvement is expressed in kilos weight, month by month, with sprinters maturing quicker than stayers (the longer the distance, the stiffer the test). Let us say for the moment that the average improvement in each horse is a kilo per month at 2, and half a kilo per month at 3, until maturity is reached late at 3. That means that a 2yo born in November is about 4 kilos behind another 2yo born in August, right from the start. Not that anyone will visibly detect that difference: both horses make progress of 1 kilo a month as 2yo's. The older one stays 4 kilos ahead of the younger - their relative ability shown on the track does not change. That happens only when the older one, at 3, gets into the half kilo per month improvement and the younger one still improves at a rate of 1 kilo per month. And later again, when the older one reaches maturity, but the younger one still has 4 months, or 2 kilos, to go. Considering that the initial difference of 4 kilos is equal to 2 lengths of sprinters, to 4 lengths for milers and 6 lengths for middle distance performers, it follows that late foals must be watched towards the end of their third year, when they are bound to show abnormal improvement.
The difference in date of birth for horses of the same age is generally unimportant. The structure of racing in South Africa, thanks to the Racefigure method of penalising horses, allow a horse to win the number of races which relates to his ability, whether early or late in his career, depending on how well his trainer places him. More seriously, the "classic" races at 2 and 3 (before horses have fully matured), unfairly benefit those with an earlier date of birth in cases where the inherent ability of the horses is at the same level. Think of the owner whose November foal is beaten a short head in the Guineas and Derby, by an August foal. Since breeders are most likely fully aware of the implications an early birthdate might have on the career of a horse, there must be a different reason why the majority of foals is born in October, and not earlier. In fact, nature is responsible for the births of most foals. Generally, the climate prevents mares from conceiving as early as breeders would want to. Racing authorities and nature, however do not agree. How much more sense it would make, and how much fairer it would be to all concerned, if the collective and obligatory birthday of all racehorses would be moved to September, or even October.
As additional benefit, it would allow the South African racing season to come to a more logical conclusion, since a few of the major races of the important Natal season take place during August, just after horses change age. Major racing statistics, of course, are compiled when the racing authorities tell us they must, which is at the end of July of each year. To us that makes little sense. Which is why we take the liberty to give our vote for the best stayer of the year to a horse that before the official close of the season had not raced beyond 2200m, but just 2 days later had proven himself beyond doubt to be the best in the country over 3200m. Without that unofficial extension we would have to go back between 9 and 12 months to delve in the records to remind us who performed how in major stayers races. After the first quarter of the season there simply aren't any stayers races to be had. But that is another story.
Occult, despite his early September birthdate, was a late starter. He made his debut only in February of his third year, as a gangly newcomer. But run he could, showing fine acceleration in a maiden 1000m, which by then already must have been far too short for him. He won his first race narrowly, and completed that season with two wins and two seconds from four starts. He opened his account as a 4 year old quickly, winning twice in August. Two months later, at his first try over 2000m, he scored his 5th win, to make it 4 in a row. It was a good few months before he saw the winners box again. Not because he lacked ability, on the contrary. The cause was the distance, and the killer of all: pace. His next two starts were over 1800m, both in the Cape, both in races run at a slow early pace, as is so often the case with races over those distances at top division level. Occult tried, but simply lacked the acceleration of his conquerors, who did so readily, be it narrowly. He might not have had their toe, but he certainly matched their courage. Both times he was odds on, both times no one cottoned on, particularly because no one in racing in South Africa bothers to time races in sections.
It was no secret that on breeding Occult needed more ground, his pedigree was there for everyone to see. We were rather surprised therefore to see Occult, after a break of 4 months, make his seasonal appearance in Natal over 1400m. We were even more surprised when he ran a close second, for which the good pace on soft ground must have been largely responsible. At his next start, not even 2 weeks later, over 1600m, he was backed to odds on. To the general surprise he failed to find a place in a race run at a relatively slow early pace, where the decisions were made in the home straight and acceleration rather than stamina counted.
The Republic Day handicap, where he looked well in with only 49 kilos, was his next mission. Drawn 11 out of 19 at Greyville, over 1900m, the expected good pace materialised, and Occult, always well placed, won perhaps a little easier than the half a length margin suggests. Apprentice ridden, he won well.
Occult was given 50.5 kilos in the Rothmans July, his first attempt beyond 2000m, and his first attempt over more than 1900m run at a decent pace.
His was bound to improve on the rating we had for him up till then, as all horses would who race over a more suitable distance for the first time. Backed from 12/1 to 7/1 on the day, Occult got his race to size. The pace in the July was most peculiar. The final times tells us that the race record which stood for 15 years was broken by half a second. Quite plausible, since conditions during the season in Natal had made many records fall. Yet the post race comments of Felix Coetzee (on Fools Holme) and Mark Sutherland (on Enchanted Garden) indicated that the race was not a true run one. Our split timing tells us that they were entirely right. Occult, who led most of the way, ran the first half of the race at least 2 seconds below the pace normally expected in a true run race over this distance. But he accelerated considerably between the 800m and 600m mark, up the hill, just before entering the straight. With him went his stable companions Fools Holme and Enchanted Garden, with Model Man close up. The final time indicates how fast they went towards the end. And it was exactly there that Occult's superior stamina started to count. He won, narrowly perhaps, but going away and with a bit in hand as we read it. When we rated the race, we found that he had not improved, but simply ran up to his previous best form. We knew then that he would improve further given more ground.
The season ended, but on the 2nd of August Occult found himself in the line-up for the Game Gold Cup, over 3200m at Greyville. He had been penalised 13 points on the Racefigure scale for his last two wins, and about 6 kilos taking a line through Voodoo Charm. To win here he had to improve, by about 3 kilos. The habit of the Millard horses to always race handy (they seldom lose races they should have won for that very reason), again paid off handsomely. Felix Coetzee, who had been on Fools Holme in the July, was the only one of the jockeys who fully seemed to understand what was going on in the Gold Cup. The early pace was again on the slow side, and when Supreme Sovereign, a good stayer, speeded things up at about the halfway mark, Coetzee was the only one to go with him. When the weight started to tell on the leader, entering the straight, Occult kicked on and there was little hope for any of the others to get anywhere near him. This was Occult's best performance to date by far, and one to remember for sheer jockeyship.
Occult was bought for just R9000 as a yearling, bred by Mrs JM Plumbly, who had bought the dam Star in foal to Kama (and carrying Occult) for a mere R1200 at auction from Daytona Stud. Occult's dam Star was bred in Ireland. She was placed twice as a juvenile, and won 2 minor races at 3 in the UK, both over a mile. She had a Timeform rating of 88, slightly above average. Star certainly wasn't a miler. Her dam Selina (TFR 111) was a well exposed sprinter, her sire Aureole a strong source of stamina; Star must have stayed well. Before Occult she had 3 foals abroad, a sprinter in the UK (TFR 92) by Silly Season, and 2 winners in France, by Lombard and miler Faraway Son. Exported to South Africa, she produced 3 fillies, by Brandy, Whoduzzit and Bally Game, the latter 2 of which won races. Star was then sold, and after producing Occult had a filly by St Cuthbert, who ran a few times on the Rand at 3, and who must be an out and out stayer. She was barren to Prince Sao the next season, and slipped a foal to Kama subsequently.
The second dam Selina was a useful sprinter at 2 and 3, winning 4 times. She bred Star, Chemise (TFR 75), a middle distance winner by Shantung, and Buckle My Shoe, a modest middle distance filly (TFR 75) by Saint Crespin III). Chemise produced Erins Isle (TFR 121, by Busted), a very smart middle distance winner in UK and US, and Erins Hope (TFR 117), by Manado), a smart Irish middle distance winner. Third dam Selindra won 5 races and produced the very smart Le Cordonnier (by Saint Crespin III), a son of Aureole), later a leading sire in Australia.
Occult's sire Kama stood at Daytona Stud. It is often said that a stallion who meets with an untimely death produces his best when he cannot be used again, and Kama is no exception. US-bred, he exerts an influence around 1400m. Kama never really received the credit he deserved, but through such as Occult, the game Kamadeva, SA Oaks winner Kamas Pride, and this season's good juvenile winners Esprit de Corps and Heir to Riches, to name but a few, he will be well remembered.
Occult, a leggy, good quartered gelding, but a less than impressive mover, clearly inherits his stamina from Aureole, a highly strung individual, who raced in the Queens colours and ran 2nd in the Epsom Derby. Winning the July and the Gold Cup in quick succession will probably take care of Occult seeing the winner's enclosure again in Gr1 races other than Weight for Age events, if the handicappers attitude towards previous big-race winners is anything to go by. He might still be able to improve slightly on his rating, but probably only in races over a good measure of ground, run at a true pace.
2 ch f Flower Power · Mini Pulla (Oligarchy)
[1985 1000g* 1000y* 1200g2 1200g* 1200g*]
81.0 + (TFR 98)
Pasqueflower made her debut as early as December of her 2nd year. Precocious juveniles have a habit of showing great speed in their early days, without the physical scope for normal development, and after one or two wins usually little is heard of them again. Not so Pasqueflower. She won her first start at odds of 15/10 in a field of 12, winning impressively by almost 6 lengths. It was 3 months before she was seen out again. On rather soft ground, starting at odds of 6/10, she came from a little off the pace to score again going away from Young Lady, who had been a little slow out.
So far nothing earth shaking. Above average juveniles usually have little trouble winning their first few starts and Pasqueflower had by no means shown ability out of the ordinary. It was another 3 months before she made her third appearance. Pasqueflower had met with a mishap, sustaining a deep cut in her buttocks, which was difficult to stitch up and healed slowly. Her connections could not resist running her, however, in the TR Lewis Memorial Stakes (N1200) while only marginally recovered and not fully fit, but on the expectation that her class would pull her through. IN the event Young Lady turned the tables on her, in receipt this time of 4 kilos. Greed, as is so often the case, was not rewarded.
A good month later Pasqueflower made the trip to Natal, for the Gr1 Alan Robertson Memorial (P1200). Content to sit off the pace, she took the lead at about the 300m to win convincingly by a good four lengths in very useful time. The winning distance may have been flattering, since some scrimmaging behind her interfered with the chances of among others Karate Do, the joint favourite for the race. Pasqueflower beat Young Lady who had been hanging throughout, at level weights, an improvement on their previous 2 meetings. Pasqueflower then won the fourth of her 5 starts as a juvenile on the last day of the season, carrying top weight of 58 kilos in the TBA 2 yo Fillies handicap.
Pasqueflower was bred at Mrs J B Pause's Brockenhurst Stud and bought at the Goodwood Summer sales. Before her, the dam had bred 3 winners, of which the fast Mini Wave (by High Frequency), who stayed a stiff 1200, was the best. Mini Pulla's only win came at 3, over 1400m, but her stud record suggests that she was probably best over a little less. The second dam unlimited had two foals, of which Mini Pulla was the only winner. Pasqueflower's sire Flower Power is proving a successful sire. Himself a strongly made individual, he was mainly kept to sprinting, but his stud record suggests that he must have been a sprint/miler. Rule of thumb suggests that Pasqueflower will either be best suited by a stiff 1200, or at best will get 1400/1600.
Although Pasqueflower on performance may not be the best of her generation, expectations are that she will be elected 2yo filly of the season, by virtue of her win in a Gr1 race and her 4 out of 5 winning record. It is no secret that her trainer has a very high opinion of her, and that she tends to idle during her races. How good she is will have to be answered during her 3yo career, when she will again meet the best. Pasqueflower acts on soft going and seems best when held up for an early run in races run at a good pace. She seems certain to win more races.
[1985 1200g* 1200g* 1600g* 1400g*]
80.0 (TFR 96)
A host of new sires has gone to stud in South Africa in recent years. Some with great fanfare, others have slipped in virtually unnoticed. Some are wellbred, with performance to match, others wellbred with modest or no trackrecords, or careers interrupted by injuries. The ones that were well promoted were usually the ones that attracted most attention at the Yearling Sales.
But one of bloodstock breedings most intriguing aspects is that little can be taken for granted. After all, it is only once the offspring reaches the South Arican tracks that a sire can be properly assessed. Two of the most exciting prospects of recent years are sires that are wellbred, but who started their careers virtually unnoticed and modestly patronised. With the exploits of Model Man, much has been written about Lyphard's son Elliodor. The other is Rollins.
Rollins was bred in the US, out of a full sister to Epsom Derby winner and topclass stallion Roberto. His dam Glorious Spring was a useful winner over 1400m in the US. Because of a hock injury Rollins never ran. He entered stud in 1982 and had 16 foals in his first crop, most of them bred by his owner, C J Saunders. Nine of these have seen the track, four have won. Perhaps not outstanding at first glance, but the quality of those that ran is well above average. His fillies especially have made great impression, none more so than Point With Pride.
She made her debut in March, winning over 1200m at Scottsville in good time. A months later she won a slowish run C1200, beating her stable companion Dare and Do (also by Rollins) by almost a length. Two weeks later she travelled to the Rand, to take her chance in the Gr1 Juvenile Futurity for fillies, over1600m at Germiston. The stakes for this race were R50 000, in contrast to the Gr1 Juvenile Futurity for colts, run on the same day, worth R100 000, and run over the same distance. It escapes us entirely why there should be such a difference between the stake money for both races, while there must also be a question over the size of stakes in comparison to other juvenile Gr1 races, since this race surely is meant for middle distance horses (1600m for 2yo's in April can hardly be anything else), who do not quite get similar opportunities as 3yo's. But then, the grading of races and allocation of stakes in South Africa has not made much sense at the best of times. The race was run at rather a muddling pace, with Point With Pride coming with a late run to narrowly defeat Believe It and Champion Chick, both of whom showed good form afterwards. Our impression was that Point With Pride won because of her acceleration rather than stamina.
Point With Pride ran her last race of the season in the Debutante Stakes at Clairwood, over1400m in May. She carried 58 kilos, giving weight al round. In a race clearly run at a false pace, it was again her turn of foot hat saw Point With Pride emerge the winner, beating the promising Cape middle distance filly Blessed Peace and In High Places, another Rollins filly.
Despite her unblemished record, and a Gr1 win in good company, it is hard to say how good Point With Pride is. Her ability rating still puts her a little behind the best, but of course, she could not have done more than win. How far she will stay is another questionmark.
The dam Full of Promise, whose first foal she is, ran only once, late at 2, showing little. Full of Promise is by Embassy, a winner from 1000 to 1600, and was most likely a sprint/miler. The second dam won 9 times, up to 1800, and bred seven winners. Of these Coral Isle (by Sea Cottage) is probably best remembered, although five of the remaining six all won at least 5 races. Third dam Electric Eel won 3 races as a 5 year old; she is halfsister to Tiger Fish, and dam of stayers Blue Spark and Murena.
With Full Of Promise a sprint/miler, and Rollins stamina influence unknown (he could be anything from a sprint/miler to a middle distance influence), it is hard to predict how far Point With Pride will stay. Her record to date, and her manner of racing suggests that she is probably best up to a mile, but this conclusion cannot be more than a hesitant one. Point With Pride was a game and consistent filly at 2, and must be expected to take her place in the major fillies races at 3. Even if she is not up to winning any other Gr1 races, she will most certainly put up a bold show.
3 br c Liloy - Pierina (Martinet)
[1985 1200g 1400g* 1800g* 1986 1600g* 1400g* 160y 1800g* 1600g* 1600g4 2000y* 2450g* 2000g2 2000g*]
87.0 (TFR 112)
The latter year successes of Argentinian bred horses in South Arica have prompted many to declare the Argentinian breed to be superior to that of South Africa. Although there is no denying that Argentinian horses have done extremely well and have produced the winners of many of our bigger races almost every year since 1980, statements of that kind need careful examination and substantiation. After all, there is no reason to believe that the horse population of the Argentine as a whole would be any better than that of South Africa, Australia or New Zealand, to mention the most important of the southern hemisphere racing countries. If that were the case Argentinian bred horses would certainly be swept up by the Americans for one, and score with regularity on their tracks, which is not exactly the case.
It was Millard who pioneered the importing of horses from our South American neighbours, and it was Millard's knack for picking good horses that gave us such as the Bluff's (Tecla and Taima), Sandanguera, Saturado, Prontissimo and others. His selections were purchased privately rather than at public auction, which must have given him to some extent the opportunity to pick the cream of the crop. And what a marvellous job he has made of it. Besides, with the problems the Argentinian currency had a few years ago deals must have been concluded to the satisfaction of all parties.
But to assess the real story behind the Argentinians, we need to look at all the imports, and not just the best. To do that we compare the (relatively small) group of Argentinian imports born in 1981 and 1982, the 3 and 4 year olds of last season, with the total group of horses sold on Select Day of the National Sales for he same generations. This to ensure that some measure of pre selection would go for both groups, although had Millard had the pick of the yearlings offered at our Select National Sales as well, we might have been able to narrow down the South African group further. But that was not the case and we have to accept that the South African National Sales groups may have been somewhat inferior as a whole to Millard's Argentinian pick of the crop.
The results of our investigation are not totally unexpected. Of the Argentinian 1981 crop, two-thirds were less than 2 time winners at the end of their fourth year (that is either non-runners, maiden, or 1 or 2 time winners). Of the Argentinian 1982 crop the same proportion were less than two-time winners at the end of their 3rd year. The figures for the South African crops were 58% and 81% respectively. Combining the 2 crops gives 67% for the Argentinians and 70% for the South Africans, much of a muchness. At the other end of the scale we find the better horses. Setting the bottom line at 6 time winners, we find the combined Argentinian crops with 16% 6-time or more winners, the South African combined crops with 9%. Here the Argentinians score marginally better, but then as we said, had Millard been given the choice of the pick of the Select National Sales he might have done as well. Be that as it may, anyone with plans to buy in the Argentine on the assumption that the grass on the pampas is much greener, might do well to keep these facts in mind.
Potomac (ARG) made his debut as a juvenile in Natal. His work at home had not indicated him to be anything out of the ordinary. He was fitted with blinkers and won a maiden over 1400m at his 2nd start. Still, Millard considered him good enough to take his chance in the Computaform Juvenile Stakes (Gr2) at his 3rd
Next came the trip to take part in the SA Invitation Stakes (P1600). Potomac flew up with Penny Chocolate on the day of the race, and had a disastrous flight, both contenders arriving on the track only shortly before the start of the day's racing. The trip took its toll and neither ran up to form, Potomac still running a creditable fourth, but well beaten by Jungle Rock. Given a 2-month break, Potomac then ran twice in the B-Division at the Kenilworth old course. The first time over 1800, the second time over 1600m. It was especially the second of these races that make Potomac stand out in our estimation. Three year olds, even at that time of year, are still at a considerable Weight-for-Age disadvantage, and Potomac, carrying 56 kilos, had a very stiff task. He showed himself to be an absolute champion. The race was run on Met-day, and a look at the split time comparison between the two races made us sit up. In Potomac's race the first 400m went in 24.8 sec, in the Met 26.8. Potomac finished his mile in 95.5 sec, whereas the Met runners passed this mark (be it with 400m to go) in 3.5 sec slower time. Potomac had always given the impression that he likes a fast run race, he normally takes a while to get going when asked, but once going he accelerates well. On our ratings this was Potomac's bet race of the season.
His next five starts were all in Gr1 races. He ran on nicely in the Richelieu Guineas over the too sharp Milnerton mile, to finish fourth. Three weeks later, on softish going (there had been a light drizzle the whole day), he simply ran away from his field in the Cape Derby (K2000), be it in a slowish run rac,e beating little. The SA Derby on the Rand (T2450) was his next mission. Again in a slowish run race, where he made an early effort to be well placed (Felix Coetzee really leaves very little to chance) he won well, over a distance perhaps a little beyond his best.
At virtually Weight for Age terms he met his elders in the Sun International (T2000). As so often happens in this race, the early pace was on the slow side and in a strung out field, the frontrunners had a decisive advantage over the rest of the runners. Potomac's downfall was perhaps his slowness in quickening. Stable mate Enchanted Garden got first run on him, and despite carrying him inwards (jockey Coetzee lodged an objection afterwards because of this), the filly ran on well enough to indicate that he probably would not have beaten her given a clear run.
Potomac's last run of the season came in the SA 2000 (D2000). Given the suspect stamina of opponents Model Man and Another Treat, Millard used stable mate Beaulieu as a pacemaker. Beaulieu set a cracking pace right from the start, with both Potomac and Model Man in close attendance. When the leader had enough, just before entering the straight, he switched out, to leave the way for Potomac. The hot pace had suited Potomac, but Model Man as well. The two pulled well clear of the rest of the field and in a tremendous battle Potomac claimed victory, for which Felix Coetzee's rhythmic and very coordinated finish riding must be largely responsible. Despite jockey Marcus' (on Model Man) unquestionable ability, we cannot help but think that Felix would have won on either horse. This was a race in which both horses must have gone to the bottom of their reserves. Potomac, after a hard and strenuous season perhaps not surprisingly, had enough: he reportedly contracted a virus, felt his legs and did not run again. There were rumours afterwards that Potomac had been sold to the UK, but chances must be that he is still with us, and will race here again next season.
Potomac was bred in Argentina by Haras El Turf. His sire Liloy, trained by Angel Penna in France, won from 2 to 5 years (TFR 124) up to 2000m before being exported to Argentina to take up stud duty there. He proved himself so successful that he was subsequently exported to the US in 1982. Liloy is a halfbrother to the European champion miler and French sire Faraway Son (Ambiopoise). Potomac's dam Pierina was a maiden, while the second dam Picarissima never ran, but is the dam of Argentinian sprint/miler Pied a Terre (by Liloy), like his sire exported to the US in 1982 to take up stud duties. A strongly made attractive individual, Potomac has proved himself to be a thoroughly genuine and onsistent miler, with the stamina to win up to 2450m. He has a good turn of foot, but needs a fast pace to show his best. He wears blinkers, which suit him well, and acts on soft going. He stood up well to his racing in a hard season, for which his trainer deserves credit.
4bg Main Reef - Splosh (Silly Season) [1985 1200g* 1986 1300g2 1400g* 1400g4 1200y2 1000g2 1200g2]
Sold as the top priced horse in June '85 (R58 000), Sea Captain made his debut in June 1986, when just 3 years old, over the rather stiff Clairwood 100m. Despite losing 2 lengths at the start, he raced handy and drew clear at the 200m to win as he liked. He started 2/1 second favourite and earned a rating of 76.
Two months later he reappeared over the sharp Greyville 1300. Starting at 7/10, he stayed well off the pace until halfway. Hitting the front at about the 200, he failed to produce the expected acceleration, shifting under pressure, but running on to be narrowly beaten. The pace was a good one and it seemed as if the distance was on the sharp side for him.
Another 2 months later he won his third start, over 1400m at Scottsville, at 7/10. Settled well off the pace, eh made steady progress in a slowish run race, to hit the front at the 400. He ran on, but again the expected acceleration was missing - with the slowish early pace, this 1400m must still have been too sharp.
Six weeks later he returned to Greyville over 1400m. Starting at 6/10, he made steady progress, from well off the pace, to hit the front at the 300, only to be outsprinted in the last 100m. The time of the race was good enough, but with a lone front-runner the main bunch moved rather slowly early on. It appeared as if an easy 1400m was not enough of a test for him and that a mile was probably what he needed, perhaps with the aid of blinkers to keep his mind on the job once in front.
Surprisingly, he returned 2 weeks later to the Clairwood straight 1200m, with the going on the soft side. This was a stiff sprint alright, especially when 1400m performer Battle Act stole a few lengths and set a good pace. Sea Captain got within 2 lengths of him, but failed to kick on, still holding on for second. The old story again, of a front runner getting away at a good pace - no horse, whatever his class, can give start to such a front runner. Sea Captain's performance should be seen in that light.
Subsequently gelded, Sea Captain had 2 more sprints, over 1000 and 1200 at Clairwood. He showed good pace, running on, a little below his best form. Early in March he fetched R90 000 at the Chris Smith Sales, rather a stiff price on his record to date.
What to think of him? With his May-birthdate he had been expected to show above average Weight-for-Age improvement, there can be little doubt that he is better than the rating he earned on his debut (his subsequent runs were all below that rating). The only answer, in our opinion, must be that he has not yet run over his best distance. We have to analyse his breeding to come to a suggestion of what that distance could be.
Sea Captain's sire Main Reef (TFR 126) had excellent form at 2 and 3, and appeared to stay 2400 - his subsequent stud performance also suggests that.
The dam Splosh showed little on the track. She is a full-sister to sire Idiots Delight, who stayed 2000m. She is halfsister also to sire Good Match (Match III), who stayed 2000m. With the second dam Dolphinet a 2000m performer, that makes good sense. Silly Season, the dam's sire, won the Champion Stakes (2000m), but his overall track record and subsequent stud performance suggest that he was in fact a miler, speedy enough to do well over 1400m, and with enough stamina to get 2000m.
That makes Splosh either a miler, or a 2000m performer. Her stud record sheds little light on the matter. Her first foal by Red Alert, a 1400m performer, was suited by 1400m (TFR 75). Her second foal stayed 2200 (TFR 71), but was by North Stoke, who was effective from 2000m upwards. The third foal has not raced, the fourth is Sea Captain, the one after him a colt by Northern Guest, a juvenile this season.
Considering Sea Captain's speed, it seems likely that Splosh took after Silly Season, and is a miler. Sea Captain should therefore also stay a mile, and might get more if he takes after sire Main Reef.
His connections appear convinced, however, that Sea Captain will be best up the straight. His track record to date does not bear that out - a horse that fails to run on in sprints either is outclassed or in need of more ground.
His connections seem to believe the first, we tend to regard the latter as likely. If Sea Captain indeed stays a mile, he should be able to improve considerably on his current rating, and will be a horse to follow during the Natal season. If his connections are right, he should do no more than his rating suggests, and might need blinkers at that. We hope he will be given the opportunity to try a mile, run at a decent pace.
4 b f Radetzky 123 ·Sister angelica (Song 123)
[1984 1000g4 1000f 1200g2 1000g* 1200d* 1000g* 1000g2
1985 1000g* 1000g* 1000g* 1200g* 1200g* 1000g2 1200g* 1000g* 1200g* 1200y3 1200g* 1200g*]
92.0 (TFR 123)
"I'd be a fool to continue buying expensive yearlings. I must spend R100 000 or more to buy a quality horse - and the breeder who sold it to me can import an even better one for less money and come and beat me. It just does not make sense. I might as well buy the imported horse myself. For a good imported horse is superior to a good local horse. Nobody can argue with that."
Well, we can argue, and we will. This quote from a disgruntled major Cape owner appeared in the Cape Times on November 12th 1985, shortly after Sunera had registered her third win in the Cape. We have enough experience and evidence to show that an imported horse with a reasonable Timeform rating will, if sound and fit, produce that same Timeform rating will, if sound and fit, produce that same Timeform rating in this country, just as any horse with at least some ability will run up to form wherever it races. Spanish Pool, Foveros, Breezing In and others did exactly that. But to win major races in South Africa it is necessary to import a horse with a Timeform rating of certainly over 110. Such horses do not exactly grow on trees, and if they can be bought at all, it will be at a price. And with the Rand sunk to desperate depths, it takes a brave soul indeed to take that plunge.
What then about the purchase of Sunera, who had a Timeform rating of 106 and who was purchased for what now seems to be the bargain basement price of 40 000 pounds, plus handling and shipping which must have brought her price to about R100 000? The simple answer, given with the benefit of hindsight, must be that Sunera as well as the horses she raced with at 2 in England were much better than connections (and Timeform) assumed they were. Take a simple line through the well exposed Storm Warning whom Sunera beat by 2 lengths at her last appearance in the UK and who had a TFR of 102 against Sunera's 106. Storm Warning increased her rating the next season to 117, an exceptional improvement certainly by Timeforms exacting standards, she raced in top company at 3, even taking her chance in the Gr1 Prix de l'Abbeye de Longchamps. Compare this to Sunera's South African rating of a comparable TFR 123, and the conclusion becomes rather obvious. Sunera's purchase was an astute, if perhaps somewhat fortunate buy by bloodstock agent Tony Riley, who had bought her entirely on spec. Apparently she had some problem with sesamoids, which too may have accounted for her purchase price. Rumour has it that several people turned down the opportunity offered by Riley, until Des Scott in the end took it.
A 3 time-winner at 2 in the UK, 4yo Sunera made her local appearance in October, when still a 3yo in real terms. Within the space of 2 months she won 5 times, quickly finding her way through Progress, B Division and A Division, before winning her first Gr3 race, the Sceptre Stakes over the stiff Kenilworth 1200m. She met with her first defeat early in January, in the Cape Flying Championship, which was run in a howling South Easter at Milnerton. Both in the UK and here Sunera had shown a tendency to hang, sometimes to the left, sometimes to the right, for no apparent reason. At Milnerton she was switched (or as some would have it was hanging) right across the course, to be beaten a length by Lord Randolph. The result of the race must be questioned, since the form shown by most of the horses in the race bore no relation to their respective abilities - the wind must take most of that blame.
Sunera quickly redeemed her reputation, by turning the tables on Lord Randolph at Kenilworth in the Gr3 Merchants, beating him by 3 lengths in fast time. Jockey Coetzee exploited Sunera's secret weapon to the full in this event; her strength is undoubtedly her terrific burst of acceleration, which tends to carry her so far clear of the opposition that no one has the slightest hope of getting anywhere near her again. But at her next start she almost was beaten again. In a field of fillies, which under normal circumstances would have had no chance with her, Sunera was not partnered by her regular jockey, who by now had got to know her inside out and knew how to ride her best. Replacement jockey Sutherland ignored the basic racing truth that one cannot give start to a good frontrunning sprinter over an easy 1000m. Given the fact that such a sprinter can run that distance in near record time when fit, it is not difficult to see that any horse racing from off the pace will have to run that same 1000m in faster time to beat the front runner - a mechanical impossibility. It was to Sunera's eternal credit that she managed to win after all, after Sea Shore had taken a few lengths on her, with Sutherland realising his mistake a little too late. He moved on her just after the 400, where Sunera produced her now standard burst of speed - which carried her level with Sea Shore, who for a moment looked a beaten horse. However, Sunera had used her reserves, and for the last 100m or so Sea Shore slowly fought back. It took an enlargement of the photo finish picture to declare Sunera the winner. A good six weeks later, over 1200m in Natal, and partnered again by Coetzee, Sunera beat the same Sea Shore by an easy looking 2 lengths.
At her next start, after a heavy downpour during the course of the afternoon at Greyville, Sunera was beaten, something for which the conditions seemed mainly responsible. This time she ran a poor third, beaten again by Lord Randolph, who came from the clouds to win narrowly. After that Sunera dispelled any doubts there may have been about her ability by pulverising her field in the Gr1 Gilbey Stakes (P1200), followed by perhaps the most impressive victory of her career in the Gr2 Durban Merchants, a D1200 handicap which certainly did not favour her at the weights. During the course of her career, Sunera ran up to her best form 4 times: at her second and third start (a Progress B and a B Division in the Cape), in the Cape Merchants and in the Durban Merchants. Trainer Millard deserves credit for keeping her in such immaculate condition for virtually a whole season, in which she ran 2 times, for 10 wins and 2 places. That her earnings were not nearly as impressive as her record, does not say much for the distribution of prize money in South African racing, where milers and middle distance performers are spoilt no end.
Sunera was bred in the UK. She is described by Timeform (at 2) as a lengthy filly and a poor walker and mover. She is the second foal of her dam, who never ran, and before her had the fair 1000m performer Seven Clubs (TFR 95 at 2), by Some Hand, a smart performer up to 1400 in the UKI in the early seventies. The second dam Sister Agnes was a maiden who had eight other foals, four of which won, including 9-time and 18-time winners in Italy, and Sass (TFR 100), who found himself well beaten in Shergar's Derby. The third dam Seph bred seven winners, and is by Abernant out of a halfsister to 2000 Guineas and Derby winner Nimbus and prolific sire Grey Sovereign. Sunera's sire Radetsky was rather a temperamental customer, who at 5 and 6 made his mark both at stud and on the racecourse. At five he covered 6 mares and (and got 5 in foal) before making a winning return to the racecourse in astonishing fashion, no less than 6 weeks after resuming training, and earning himself a Timeform rating of 123. He repeated the effort a year later, after getting 25 of his 29 mares in foal, this time with a TFR of 116, and without winning. Radezky, best suited by 1600/2000, was one of the best sons of sprinter Huntercombe, and at his best was a determined frontrunner.
Sunera is reportedly to be covered by Homeguard. She was bought during her South African career by the Ross Gardiner partnership, for a sum in the region of R300 000. A game and consistent sort, she was equally effective over 1000 and 1200m. She ran below best at the only occasion she encountered soft ground, but has won on dead going in the UK. If her offspring inherits even half of her turn of foot we will be in for exciting racing during the next decade.
4 b c Elevation - Opec (Cocoyoc)
[1983 3 wins 1984 1066g* 1066g2 1066g* 14002 1600g 1800g* 1066g* 1600g3 2000g 1600g* 1800g 1985 1300g* 1800g2 1600g* 2000g 2000g3 1600g4 2200g]
87.0 (TFR 112)
One of the biggest shortcomings of the South African racing season, with each of the three major centres having its own season, is the lack of coordination of big races. It is in our opinion essential to obtain a balanced view, each season, of the strengths and weaknesses of the different generations. To that end major races must be staged to test each generation within itself, and sufficient opportunity must be given to test generations against each other, at s for Age terms of course. Tradition, fragmentation and reluctance to cooperate to achieve what is best for racing as a whole make the program of Graded races in South Africa not much more than a token attempt to fall in line with international standards. It appears that the Jockey Club lacks the power or the will to overrule the Clubs in this respect, and make them see the light.
For a topclass older horse, whose limitations are distance related, there are few opportunities. In the South African context, horses that win one or more of the major races as 3 year olds, or 4 year olds, there is little left but to campaign at either Weight for Age terms, or to accept the inevitable, that of at best being able to run a place in major races. The fact that of the 3 major races in the country, only one is run at WFA-terms (and in fact adjusted terms at that) is sad to say the least. Should we ever have the good fortune to own a winner of one of those races, we would make every effort to dispose of the animal at the best possible price right after that win, since the chances of winning another major race are virtually nil. The worst possible horse to possess in this context is a miler. Mauritzfontein, Turncoat, Yamani are three examples of horses that regularly show their very best form, without the slightest hope of winning a race other than at Weight for Age terms. And their best form, make no mistake, is the best form at WFA-terms in the country. Rather sadly, they are forced to race with regularity outside of their best distance, purely because of the lure of big money and lack of suitable races over their best distance.
Yamani raced seven times during his 4yo season, and only twice over his best distance of a mile. At his first start he won an A Division 1300 at Greyville. Thanks to the Racefigure-method he was well off at the weights in this so-called handicap, winning narrowly from distance specialist Expertise. After having been narrowly beaten over 1800m in the John Skeaping at his next start (when drawn 17 out of 17 in a fast run race, coming from far back), he returned to his best distance in the Queen's Plate. Yamani is a peculiar customer in that he requires to come from well off the pace in a fast run mile to show his best. Fortunately the pace in this Gr1 event was on from the start and coming from well off the pace on this difficult and sharp K1600 track, he stormed through the field to win going away. He beat the consistent Mauritzfontein by just over a length. It was the only time Yamani encountered conditions and distance needed to show his best form.
His next mission was the J&B Met, run this season over the old course, with the start taking place on the bend, which virtually eliminated those with a high draw. Yamani was drawn 11 out of 16 and landed at the back after the start. The race was run at a slow pace, which favoured those racing up front further and when Yamani stumbled in the straight his chance had gone. Despite all that he finished eigth, beaten 4 lengths by Wild West, with 57 kilos on his back. He reappeared in the Sun International (T2000); he again raced from the back and ran on in a slow run race to finish third, beaten 5 lengths by 3yo Enchanted Garden and Potomac. His last start was the Gr1 Schweppes Challenge, run at level weights, over C1600. On paper he was the horse to beat, despite the presence of the unbeaten Fools Holme. Again racing well off the pace, tactics prevented him from showing his form. Rise and Rule, a 1400m performer, went as usual to the front, but instead of setting a good pace slowed things up. When the horses quickened up the straight it was impossible for anyone racing from the back to make up ground on the leaders, and Yamani finished 4th, beaten even by Rise and Rule, with Fools Holme a perfectly ridden winner. It was rather disappointing that Basil Marcus, usually such an excellent judge of pace, was caught out in this manner. Yamani had in the past shown that he was quite effective racing closer up and there seemed to be no reason for him to have been so far off the pace. Yamani next took his chance in the July (D2200), over a distance clearly beyond his best. After losing a few lengths at the start he was always well back, and in a race run a slowish early pace never seen with a chance.
Yamani was bred by Highlands Farms and is the first foal of his dam Opec, who failed to find a place in her only start, as a juvenile. Yamani is a three-parts brother to Opec's halfbrother Soldier of Fortune (by Elevation), a good winner up to 1600m, and the best of the second dam Tehran Pact's foals. Tehran Pact comes from a prolific family, and is halfsister to the dams (both by Open Sky) of Majestic Crown and Mexican Diamond, and to Panache (Lords), the dam of Bullion Best. Tehran Pact won over 1000m as a 4 year old, but must have stayed a little further. Third dam Assured was unplaced in her only three starts. Yamani clearly gets his distance requirement from the Cocoyoc/Elevation combination. He has an impressive turn of foot, acts on soft going and has shown himself to be the best miler in the country at 4. It remains a pity that he had no opportunity to test himself against the best milers of the 3yo generation.
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