Jack Milner
4 minute read
9 Oct 2017
12:31 pm

Wonderwall weathers the wet conditions

Jack Milner

Bella Sonata defies weight to win Joburg Fillies & Mares Spring Challenge.

IMPRESSIVE. Wonderwall (Lyle Hewitson) shows he will be a force in the Classics this season with a dominant victory in the Grade 2 Joburg Spring Challenge over 1450m on the Turffontein Inside track on Saturday in testing conditions. Picture: JC Photographic

The three-year-old scene on the Highveld took on a different complexion with the victory of Wonderwall in the Grade 2 Joburg Spring Challenge over 1450m on the Turffontein Inside track on Saturday.

One of three runners from the Sean Tarry yard, the three-year- old son of Querari took the lead shortly after the start and the moment they hit the home straight, he never looked like losing. In the end, Wonderwall, who went off at decent odds of 21-2, went on to beat stable companion Fincha on (44-1) by 2.30 lengths with Will Pays (9-2) sneaking in for third just a head in front of 3-1 favourite New Predator.

However, the race was run in heavy conditions and hopefully the form will stand up. There had been quite a bit of rain all night and then, during the running of Race 4, the heavens opened again and the jockeys questioned the safety of the track after that. An inspection of the course was carried out and the decision was taken to continue the meeting. However, further rain resulted in the meeting being called off after the running of the Joburg Spring Challenge.

Wonderwall, ridden by apprentice Lyle Hewitson, carried just 51kg and seemed to relish the conditions but it is interesting to note that he is the first progeny of the mare Westwardly who ironically is by Silvano, to win over further than 1200m.

Tarry indicated his positive opinion of this colt when he took Wonderwall to the Cape for the summer season last year. On debut he finished a 1.50-length second behind Candice Bass Robin- son-trained Dutch Phillip, who is one of the best of his age group in Cape Town, and then went down a head to Bold Respect in the R1- million Kuda Sprint over 1200m at Kenilworth. Barrack Street did well on his comeback run at Durbanville on Saturday to finish fourth behind Kasimir in a Progress Plate over 1200m.

Tarry was clearly delighted with the performance of his charge. “He is eligible to run in the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup next month so we’ll go for that. If he runs well there we will consider the Cape Guineas.”

The R2.5-million Ready To Run Cup will be raced over 1400m on the Turffontein Standside track on Saturday 4 November.

Matador Man was Tarry’s third runner and the most fancied of the three. However, he was always near the rear and never really ran on and was beaten 7.10 lengths. He might not have enjoyed the conditions and it was his second run after a layoff.

Tarry, however, was not too disappointed with run because for the first time his charge almost broke on terms. “He might have lost half a length and that is a huge improvement on what was happening before when he was giving away many lengths.”

While Tarry was delighted with the win, other trainers questioned how the jockeys allowed Hewitson, with just 51kg to carry, to get away from then and attain such a so lead. Hewitson had a great weekend with a treble in Port Elizabeth on Friday and then this Grade 2 victory on Wonderwall. That effort has propelled him to the No 1 spot on the national jockeys’ log with 34 wins, two clear of Aldo Domeyer.

The Joburg Fillies & Mares Spring Challenge went to the 6-1 shot Bella Sonata, trained by Chesney van Zyl for his father, Gavin, and ridden by Keagan de Melo. She came from near the rear of the eld to beat Mike and Adam Azzie-trained Mrs O by 0.50 lengths. Tarry-trained Rockin Russian ran third ahead of Al Danza, who touched off Secret Star for fourth. With a wide draw to contend with Piere Strydom got Secret Star out in a ash and she went into a clear lead. However, she was always doubtful to see out 1450m and started to tread water close home.

Mrs O, who had 52kg on her back and travelled easily in second, moved into the lead with Rockin Russian with her but then Bella Sonata swept through on the inside to get up close home, despite having to give 8kg to the runner-up.

With the track wet, all the jockeys kept their mounts away from the inside rail which gave De Melo a clear passage. “I thought that would happen which is why I told Keagan to go down the inside,” saidChesney.

Talking about her future, Van Zyl said he had a few options. “But I think I will put her up against the colts next time and run her in the Charity Mile.”

Adam Azzie was equally delighted with the performance of Mrs O. “Now we know she is good enough and we will probably aim her at the Grade 3 Fillies Mile for three-year-olds on Summer Cup day,” he said.

He added that Abashiri was back in training and would run very soon. “He looks great and is very sound but he will need the run badly,” he added.