Mostly one wouldn’t get thanked for performing a castration – but quite often racehorses do reward their scalpel-wielding connections with dramatic improvement in performance at the races.
A case in point is the gelding Viking Moon, who is likely to start as favourite for the WSB East Cape Poly Challenge at Fairview on Friday.
Viking Moon was going nowhere as a competitor in Cape Town back in early 2020. He was transferred to the lesser centre of PE and the stable of local champion trainer Alan Greeff, who made the fateful decision to “cut” – as the removal of testicles is referred to in the trade.
Lighter and more focused on the job, Viking Moon started realising his potential and between September and December last year reeled off three consecutive victories in facile manner on the Fairview Polytrack.
Now Greeff has him lined up for the first leg of the popular Poly Challenge, a 1200m sprint. The second and third legs of the series are over 1400m and 1600m, spaced a month apart, with the winner of all three legs landing a R250,000 bonus for his or her owner – or a R50,000 prize for a winner of two of the three.
The tricky hat-trick has not been achieved since the challenge’s inception in 2016, though a couple of horses have done a double.
Greeff has always been an enthusiastic supporter on the series, even campaigning to have the races elevated from Non-Black Type to Listed status.
On Friday he saddles three runners and Viking Moon is the fancied option with stable jockey Greg Cheyne in the saddle.
On form, the son of Vercingetorix should be a good thing, but there are a couple of question marks over him completing a four-in-a-row. The first is the allocated weight of 62kg – a considerable load in fast company. The second is a 105-day absence from competition – a drawback lessened by Greeff’s well-known ability to get horses fit in the Fairview woods.
Viking Moon’s pluses are his proven prowess on the Poly sprints and a perfect No 3 draw. Also, a handful of the better-performed rivals might find this dash a tad short of their best distance – notably The Highway Man, winner of last year’s 1600m heat; Dubula, one of Greeff’s backups; and Earth Hour, a wonderfully consistent sort who has nonetheless failed in his two shots at this trip.
Several other runners have excellent sprint credentials, but only a brave – or foolhardy – punter would not have Viking Moon at the top of the perm mix.
1 Emerald Floe, 3 Just So Easy, 4 Que Cosas, 10 Shahidi
4 Royal Windsor, 1 Corsage, 3 Cianna, 5 Chai
3 Baltic Beast, 5 Phil’s Power, 9 Winter Vacation, 1 May Lee
2 Innerspace, 1 Pacific Duke, 9 Tinted Vision, 10 Billi Ann
5 Ancient Times, 1 Bush Fever, 7 San Verde, 4 Ninjinski’s Son
2 Lumiere, 3 Lady Catherine, 1 Storyland, 13 Hupernikao
1 Viking Moon, 3 Sullenberger, 2 Earth Hour, 13 Travel In Style
11 Mesmerising Moon, 3 Linda Loves Lace, 2 Underthemistletoe, 10 Future Tense
1,2,3,5,9 x 1,2 x 1,3,4,5,7 x 1,2,3,4,13 x 1 x 2,3,10,11 (R1,000)
1,4 x 3,5,9 x 2 x 1,5 x 1,2 x 1 x 3,11 (R48)