Racegoers witnessed two very impressive first-timers at Turffontein on Saturday and both are worth following during the feature-race season.
The first was Greek Fire, a son of Dynasty who is a half-brother to Gold Cup winner Waving Flag (Silvano) and Greek Lover (Black Minnaloushe). This Mike and Adam Azzie-trained runner cruised to victory in Race 3 over 1450m, easily beating stable companion Artax by 5.50 lengths.
Just one race later we witnessed another Mike de Kock- trained “bomb” as Sir David Baird, another son of Dynasty, won Race 4 over 1200m, coming from last to beat Red Indy by 2.25 lengths.
Piere Strydom rode Greek Fire and was full of praise for the three-year-old colt. “He is very nice. He is tall and lanky with a long stride and I never thought he could win a 1450m on the inside track. One can only imagine how he will improve from this run on a galloping track over distance.
“He still needs to fill out but he has an unbelievable temperament. He’s a real gentleman,” said Strydom.
“I probably had him a bit confused in that he was slightly slowly away and I bustled him up but a little later when he wanted to go, I had to ease him back. That’s why I prefer to ride a first-timer down the straight in a sprint.”
He added Greek Fire could be an ideal Classic horse, looking at the Triple Crown early next year.
Sir David Baird, named for a British military leader who in 1805 commanded an expedition against the Cape Of Good Hope, capturing Cape Town and forcing Dutch general Janssens to surrender, may have been even more impressive. He lost ground at the start, found himself in last place but when Callan Murray asked him for an effort he flew up on the inside rail to win easing up.
However, Mathew de Kock pointed out he has not an easy horse and thanked the owners, Mike Rattray and his wife, for allowing them to geld the son of Dynasty.
For Strydom, however, only back from an injury break last Thursday’s things did not go well. While trying to load Hyperactive in Race 5 the horse was almost all the way in but then moved back quickly and sideways, which resulted in Strydom knocking his little toe against the gates.
“I have damaged the bone before and already have pins in there. It’s what they call a tennis break, as it is a problem that happens to many tennis players. I went for x-rays and I’m awaiting a final report.
“It appears nothing is broken. I’m walking a lot better so I hope it’s just bruising. All things being equal I should be able to ride tomorrow,” concluded Strydom.