Perhaps trainer Geoff Woodruff put it into perspective at Turffontein on Saturday after The Captain’s Tune won Race 3, a Maiden Plate over 1600m. The 5-2 second favourite just got up under a forceful ride from jockey Piere Strydom to get the better of 14-1 shot Respectable Ruler who had got away from the field at the top of the straight.
“We’re not in form yet,” said Woodruff. “It’s that time of the year – it’s a boring time for us – the horses are just out of their African Horse Sickness vaccinations and the ground is not good. We’re waiting for a bit of spring rain and then get the horses out.”
He added that The Captain’s Tune and Starcraft Prince, who went off 22-10 favourite but finished 11.50 lengths behind his stable companion, were candidates for the R3.85-million Ready To Run Cup in November. “We have to bring then out earlier than we would want and get them into the winner’s enclosure so they can qualify.”
With many runners being prepared for bigger events during the summer season it is worth looking at stables that are showing some consistency with their runners and one of these has to be the Gavin van Zyl yard. Chesney van Zyl, who keeps the Joburg stable ticking over beautifully for his father, saddled three runners on Saturday and all of them showed up well.
The first was unfortunate loser Respectable Ruler in Race 3 who looked all over a winner with 200m to run and got touched off on the line.
This son of Dynasty was having his second start and astute studiers of form would have noticed he was backed from 25-1 into 9-2 on debut, but could only finish midfield. Despite going off at 14-1 there was a little of talk around for
Respectable Ruler and he ran accordingly. There was 6.65 lengths back to the third horse and those who backed Respectable Ruler will soon be restoring their losses.
Mohave Princess was the best weighted runner in Race 5 but many felt 1200m would be far too short for Grade 1 Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks runner-up who was having her first run since finishing a 6.30-length eighth behind In The Fast Lane in the Grade 1 Woolavington 2000 at Greyville on 31 May. So it came as no surprise that she was sent off at 20-1.
However, while fancied runners Shepard One and Silent Rush were fighting it out in the centre of the track, Keagan de Melo had Mohave Princess running on down the inside rail but for her the line came too soon and she finished third, beaten 1.50 lengths.
Heart Of A Lion made the case for supporters of the “third run after a layoff theory” when he ran third, beaten just 0.80 lengths in Race 7, a Pinnacle Stakes over 1450m. The four-year-old was all the rage to win last time but he failed to find a finish and landed up running sixth, 8.50 lengths behind Brooks-Club over 1600m at this track.
This time, although the race was over 1450m and probably a touch short, Heart Of A Lion showed a lot of pace and was only run out of it late by firstly Sabadell and then Sovereign Mint, who flew up late to win going away under Gunter Wrogemann by 0.75 lengths.
All three horses should be worth following but the Van Zyl yard indicated once again they could be a force in the upcoming season.
On the subject of in-form stables trainer Glen Kotzen scored another treble at Durbanville on Saturday. Two weeks back also had a treble and he has some very good runners who look certain to ensure a very good summer season for the yard.
Once again all three winners were ridden by Greg Cheyne.
They kicked off the meeting with the victory of Sweet Parade (6-1) who improved on her poor last run to beat 22-10 favourite and first timer Vivarani by one length. The runner-up should win soon.
They scored a quick double in Race 2 when Stratocruiser (3-1) kept on well to get the better of Captive Action. Their final winner arrived in Race 8 and there was a lot of money for Westchester, who had two runs as a juvenile in KwaZulu-Natal.
On debut Westchester took on Afrikaburn and finished 6.25 lengths back and then ran a 4.50-length third to Imperial Star.
This son of Horse Chestnut went off a 7-2 for this 1300m Maiden Plate and after hitting the front in the straight, kept running well to hold off Parachute Man by 0.75 lengths.