Sport » Horses
Springtime and regeneration form a cliché that can’t escape itself. But, after the action at Turffontein this past Saturday, racing fans will have been glorying in all the schmalz of new growth and blossoming talent – with a hey, and a ho, and a hey-nonny-no, as Will Shakespeare used to say.
The Joburg Spring Challenge – two races for boys and girls – offered up flowering new talent to rival the poppies that are popping up everywhere.
The spirit of the season even got to battle-hardened veteran trainer Mike de Kock, who announced on his website that he hadn’t been so excited about a young horse in a long time as he was about Mount Pleasant.
The three-year-old colt was coming off a 14-week rest and was “not fully wound up”, according to De Kock. Yet he thumped a field of well-performed older rivals in the Grade 2 Challenge over 1 450m – starting at odds of 13-10.
“Mount Pleasant is a horse of international quality,” declared the trainer. “He’ll win a Grade 1 in Australia of that I have no doubt. To do what he did here was amazing. I’ve never seen him blowing like this, but he deserved to blow if you look at the horses behind him!”
Those horses included champion trainer Sean Tarry’s accomplished duo of Cirillo (5-2) and Chimichurri Run (7-1).
Imported from Australia, Mount Pleasant is by Vancouver (AUS) from a mare by Fastnet Rock and was a A$90 000 (about R1 million) buy at the 2019 Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale.
The win pushed Mount Pleasant’s record up to three wins from three runs – with the other two victories having come in the depths of winter against his own age group.
The handicappers concurred with De Kock’s lofty assessment and immediately put a rocket under the colt’s merit rating, shooting it up from 112 to a sky-high 127.
“The handicappers felt that fifth-placed Zouaves was highly unlikely to have run below his rating in a race of this calibre and accordingly used him as the line horse,” explained the National Horseracing Authority. “As such, his rating remains unchanged on 116.
“Runner-up Cirillo and third finisher Chimichuri Run also remain unaltered, on 127 and 126 respectively, but fourth-placed Riverstown goes up from 111 to 117.”
The other bit of spring fever at Turfies came in the female heat of the Spring Challenge, as trainer Stuart Pettigrew’s undefeated three-year-old Anything Goes did something very similar, easily beating older females – and promptly having her rating raised from 111 to 120.
Jockey Diego de Gouveia said in an interview afterwards that the three-year-old was the best horse he’d ever ridden in a race. The up-and-comer, who has partnered Anything Goes in all five of her victories, told Turf Talk newsletter: “Before she debuted, she used to work with Sweet And Spicy, who gave her a hiding every time. So, when Anything Goes came out over 1 400m, we didn’t expect too much.
“But, after being bumped and squeezed out at the start she quickened brilliantly to win going away. Mr Pettigrew said: ‘Wait and see, this will be a top horse.’ And he was 100% right, from that day on she changed completely. She’s going all the way to the top.”
Pettigrew indicated that the next assignment for the daughter of Var was likely to be the Emperor’s Palace Ready To Run Cup (CTS) on 31 October.
De Kock said Mount Pleasant would be aimed at the Dingaans.
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.