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By Mike Moon

Horse racing correspondent

Narina Trogon is flying in new skies

Top owner’s castoff mentioned as a potential Durban July entry.

With an abundance of superior thoroughbred horseflesh in their hands, the good people of Drakenstein Stud probably don’t seriously regret selling the gelding Narina Trogon.

But there might be a raised eyebrow or two at respected Turf Talk newsletter suggesting the four-year-old as a possible name for the Hollywoodbets Durban July first-entries list to be unveiled next week.

Enjoying new digs

In November 2023, Drakenstein flogged Narina Trogon on an online clearance sale, getting a tidy R390,000 from KwaZulu-Natal owner Morgan Govender. At that stage, the horse had a record of two wins from 11 starts in Cape Town and had clearly not reached the heights a purple pedigree promised.

But, at Mike Miller’s training yard at Summerveld, the horse is digging his new digs. In three short months, he has won two Listed races, the 1600m King’s Cup at Greyville and the weekend’s 1750m Sledgehammer at Scottsville, and been runner-up in another feature.

Most notable about these successes has been the determination and fighting spirit Narina Trogon has shown – which was probably what Drakenstein had been hoping for but ran out of patience.

Narina Trogon was bred by Drakenstein from the late champion sire Silvano out of champion race-mare Beach Beauty (who won five Grade 1s and was by the great Dynasty). That’s true-blue blood and, if offered for sale, would have seen a bidding battle in the millions of rands.

Unsurprisingly, Drakenstein decided to keep and race the fellow and would have been delighted when he won his first race as a juvenile in open age company.

In his second outing, he got a whipping from stablemate Charles Dickens, who went on stellar things.

Merit rating rise

Narina Trogon showed flashes of talent over the months, but it was not enough for the national champion owner, who turned to the increasingly popular Bloodstock SA monthly auction.

Following Sunday’s Sledgehammer, Miller’s charge got a three-pound merit rating rise from the official handicappers – from 97 to 100. That might seem conservative with this being a second Listed prize in a row, but the NHA explained it was swayed by the race being run at a slow pace. MR 100 might be a bit light for a July slot, but there’s still time to bump it up.

The Miller team had concerns about the 1750m being a stretch, but the race panned out perfectly for their horse, who was able to manage the pace and hang on in the sprint for the line.

It was the furthest that Narina Trogon had been tried over and a sceptic might reckon he’ll find the July’s 2200m beyond him. However, that regal bloodline indicates he could have staying power.

Silvano, a versatile, globe-trotting star as a racer, produced the likes of Vercingetorix and Hawaam, while dam Beach Beauty ran third in the July and won the Greyville 1900 in her brilliant career.

Beach Bomb

More recently, Narina Trogon’s half-sister Beach Bomb triumphed in the 1800m Paddock Stakes as part of her memorable Guineas-Paddock Grade 1 double.

Incidentally, a narina trogon is a bird with a wide range across Africa, including the southern region. It has striking plumage, glossy green on the back, bright red on the breast, with flecks of black, white and yellow.

Beach Beauty raced in colours based on those of the bird, in memory of Mark “Shanks” Armitage, a keen birder and member of the prominent thoroughbred breeding family that played a role in her ancestry.

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