Horses / Columnists

Piere Strydom
6 minute read
7 Feb 2015
6:00 am

Piere’s Perspective

Piere Strydom

Getting beaten on favourites is always devastating. On J&B Met Day at Kenilworth last Saturday I had five seconds, including hot fancies Act Of War in the Investec Cape Derby and Cold As Ice in the Klawervlei Majorca Stakes as well as Coltrane in the J&B Urban Honey Stayers.

Louis The King carried a lot of support in the Met and finished sixth.

We all have those days – they make us appreciate the good times. It’s not the first bad day I’ve had and it’s not going to be the last. Probably one of my worst traits is that I’m a bad loser. In spite of people calling me a pessimist, I prefer to think I’m a realist and I’ve learnt through the years that riding winners is not about pushing buttons. Losing is part of life and I have learnt to cope with it the best I can. I cannot afford to allow one bad day to get me down.

As I mentioned in last week’s column, Louis The King was always going to find it tough to beat Futura. I was hoping if I didn’t win, to run second. The pace was very slow and I had him placed a lot closer than normal. At the time I was happy with where we were, having one horse to follow through and being in a position to get first run on most of the runners. Sadly, he never went anywhere from the top of the straight. In hindsight I probably should have led, but can you imagine? I’d have been slated by the so-called experts if I’d done that.

I can’t make any excuses for Act Of War. We sat just off the pacemaker in another race that wasn’t fast-run. I knew my fate early. He didn’t quicken at all, was already beaten 500m out. I’m still not sure if the distance was a problem but there’s no way he ran to his true ability.

I said last week it wouldn’t be easy to beat Inara in the Majorca Stakes because she’d beaten the best older fillies in the country from the worst draw. This time she was drawn No 1. Cold As Ice wasn’t sure to stay the distance and that proved to be the case. She had everything go her way but just didn’t see out that last little bit. On a track with a short straight, like Durbanville or Greyville, she might have pulled it off.

I was a bit aggravated on Coltrane because he likes to come from far back off a fairly decent gallop. This time one of my fellow jocks allowed the front horse to set a sedate gallop and the leader had a couple of lengths start on us by the time we hit the straight. You ask why I didn’t go around? Well, I was stuck in a box and couldn’t barge my way out because I don’t want a suspension. So I had to stay where I was till a gap opened. By that stage it was too late.

We live to fight another day.

Apart from the dreadful results last weekend, my family and I have had a super week. Last weekend we stayed at the new Wildekrans Wine Estate in Hermanus – they are sponsoring me now – and then we went to Umhlanga to spend a couple of days at their sister hotel, the five-star Endless Horizons Boutique Hotel. I give both a resounding thumbs up!

That’s the end of my travels for a few months, with Cape season ending. Now we’re kicking into gear for the Highveld autumn season, so we’ll be staying at home for the next three months.

Let’s try and find some winners at Turffontein today, when three feature races will be run, the Tony Ruffel Stakes and Three Troikas Stakes (the prep races for the SA Triple Crown and Wilgerbosdrift Triple Tiara respectively) as well as the Wolf Power 1600. We’ll start off with the exotics.

Race 3: The first leg of the Place Accumulator. I’m riding Down Under for Gavin van Zyl. He’s possibly my best ride of the day, but draw No 12 over the inside track 1600m is not in his favour because he lacks speed. For that reason I’d back him up with Confabulate (also badly drawn) and Perfect Grace. They are backing first-timer Master Switch, but I’ve no idea how good he is.

Race 4: The Pick 6 starts here. I considered bankering Eau De Creole in all exotics but Silver Goddess has run quite close to her so the form might not be strong enough. It might be wise to also include Wandie’s, who should improve quite a bit from her first start when she ran a fairly good race from the worst of the draw.

Race 5: The first leg of the Jackpot is a competitive race in which a lot of runners have an equal chance on collateral form. I’d suggest including my ride, Viking Hero, as well as Cohiba and Dream Leader, who have identical form. Kostya Zu has pole position, is lightly raced and could improve quite a bit. Pick three of the four for Place Accumulators.

Race 6: I’m riding Sabadell for trainer Geoff Woodruff in the Listed Wolf Power 1600. He’s been running consistently well lately but looks held by Bouclette Top, Rake’s Chestnut and Morpheus. I’d put those three in my Place Accumulator. In Pick 6s, also include Sabadell and Shadow Ofhis Smile.

Race 7: My pick is Lazer Star in the Grade 3 Three Troikas. It will be difficult to win five races in a row but she looks really smart, is well drawn and has this field beaten on collateral form. Banker her in all bets.

Race 8: Unparalleled looks another possible banker in the Grade 3 Tony Ruffel Stakes. He’s well handicapped and has really strong form. My first phone call was to Sean Tarry to ride Imperial Gold but, unfortunately, he booked Raymond Danielson. I’m riding Prince Of Orange, who is well held on form.

Race 9: Nothing stands out and you could include just about every horse in Pick 6s. My first choice is Will I Do because she’s got a good draw and last time she ran, in November, the international jock made quite an early move on her. She got tired right at the end and ran second. She’s coming back in distance. For Place Accumulators I’d also consider Captain’s Delight, who has the benefit of a 4kg claimer, and Missmasala. I’m riding Bravo Maya, who could also run a place.

For those wanting to make some early money to finance their bets, Smart Call is very difficult to beat in Race 2, Leg 1 of the BiPot. She’s run against top fillies and is handicapped to win. The ones who look most likely to follow her home are Bilateral and Zrinski.

In Race 1 I’m riding Special Announce. It’s surprising to see he is favourite. He must have a chance but I’d prefer to ride the stable companion, Golden Man, because his form’s stronger and word from the stable is he is the better horse. The danger to the Grant Maroun runners could be Fiesta De Espana, who has only had one run and can improve.

If the day goes badly there is not “get-out” bet in Race 10. My pick is Greek Legend. He has run a length behind Cape Derby winner Ertijaal but, unfortunately, is badly drawn. Others with chances are Tom Fool, Rampant Ice and Zanzibar Man. I’m riding Mr Mulliner, who has a good draw but has been soundly beaten on his last couple of starts. He has a possible place chance, though I’m obviously hoping for the win.