The Slack family have had many winners over the years but the passion with which they approach the sport of horseracing never fades. Nother Russia won the Grade 1
HSH Princess Charlene Empress Club Stakes over 1600m at Turffontein on Saturday and the joy with which the victory was received by all involved was remarkable.
“This is just one of the best moments ever, I can’t begin to describe it,” said Jessica Slack, owner of the daughter of Tiger Ridge, who was bubbling more than the sparkling wine of Wildekrans, one of the sponsors on the day.
“I so excited and so grateful to so many people. She’s not the easiest filly and people have put so much into her. I still can’t quite believe it’s true.
“This is the best thing ever!”
The reason for this overwhelming excitement was due to the history of Nother Russia. “It is a real family affair,” said trainer Mike de Kock. “It all goes back to the mother, Mother Russia, that is, who was owned by mother Mary (Slack) who bred this filly, who was then bought from her by Jessica.” Princess Charlene was on course and presented the trophies to the winning connections.
In her last start, the Grade 3 Acacia Handicap over this course and distance, Nother Russia had the widest of draws and dropped to the back the field. She made up ground hand over fist and got up just short of the line to beat Bella Sonata by a long head.
This time jockey Craig Zackey had No 3 draw and that allowed him to place her perfectly in fourth spot on the rail behind Heaps Of Fun. Well-supported Fort Ember raced second while favourite Safe Harbour was handily positioned just a couple of lengths off the leader.
Zackey bided his time but with 300m to go he raced past the opposition and got Nother Russia clear of her major rivals. However, lurking up down the inside were Bella Sonata and jockey Gavin Lerena, who on this occasion had to deal with a wide draw and dropped out to last early on.
But, like her mother, once in front, Nother Russia would not be passed and went on to win by 1.40 lengths with Bella Sonata another 1.60 lengths in front of Tahini who touched off stablemate Safe Harbour by a short head to claim third.
There was a flood of money for Nother Russia who, though starting at 6-1, paid R4.60 on the tote. Zackey has always talked about how special Nother Russia was to him from the day he was introduced to this difficult filly. He soon became part of the team that was engaged to tame her and he was delighted with the win, his second Grade 1 victory.
“She’s my world you know. I remember her as a baby and first ever approaching her; she was so naughty in the gates and no-one could get her right. And I thought I would take my chances with her and that’s it – I can work with her.
“We’ve just bonded and she’s just so special to me.”
De Kock also complimented Zackey on his success with the filly.
“He’s always there to work her and he’s ridden very good races on the filly. Well done to Jess for keeping him on.” Bella Sonata showed her last run was also no fluke and once again proved the benefit of a good draw over 1600m at Turffontein. Tahini, at 25-1, was one of the biggest outsiders of the Sean Tarry- trained quintet and, interesting enough, jockey Raymond Danielson said after the race we would see the best of this filly when she runs over further. He might not be in town to ride her, however, as he is off on Wednesday for a threemonth stint in Mauritius.