Now for Grand Series finale

Now for Grand Series finale


Jack Milner: The sighs of relief were almost audible as the WSB Grand Series, after previous delays and changes of venue, was finally run.

The atmosphere was filled with a mix of threatening thunderstorms and trepidation but even the jockeys decided they were not coming back for a fourth time. In fact, just as the field was starting to load for Leg 1, there was a crack of lightning that looked ominously close to the start and the stipes contacted the start and gave the jockeys the option of returning to the saddling enclosure or racing back. They chose to race.

In the end the two races proved to be worth the wait as both had to be sent to the judges to decide the outcome. In Leg 1 it was Soldier On (9-2) and Dan The Lad (44-1) who the judges had to split and most punters were delighted it went the way of the fancied horse on whom Marco van Rensburg rode an excellent race. Francois Herholdt, who will soon be off to South Korea, never gave up the fight, while Lake Kinneret, the Value Bet in Racing Express, got up for third.

He was probably the unlucky horse of the race as he got a little squeezed early in the race and lost his good position close to the leaders. He made up ground strongly in the straight to go down by just 0.55 lengths.

The recent “good fortune of Ashley” was to the fore in Leg 2 when Tsitsikamma Dance held off a fast-finishing Zouaves – both 8-1 shots – to the surprise of jockey Ryan Munger who rode the Ashley Fortune-trained winner. “I’m shocked. I was sure the other horse had got it,” he said.

Third place went to well-supported Full Of Attitude (6-1) from the Joe Soma yard with Daffiq running a cracker in fourth.

No doubt, the disappointment of the race was 5-4 favourite Mardi Gras, who looked threatening with around 250m to run but then started to hang. He also did not jump on terms. The stipes reported: “Mardi Gras was slow away and chased by jockey G Lerena to make up ground. Thereafter Mardi Gras commenced to over-race and was forced to steady off the heels of Irish Pride.”

He ended up in fifth place, beaten 2.35 lengths.

The Grand Series Consolation gave trainer Fortune a double as Munger made no errors on Big Mistake (5-1) and touched off Flying Winger. Once again, the judge was called upon to separate the pair.

While the powers that be have to decide the final date of the run-off race to decide the Series winner, they could consider adding Big Mistake into the mix. After all, of the three races conducted over 1475m, he won in the fastest time – 88.27sec. Tsitsikamma Dance won in 88.42sec and Soldier On in 88.81sec.

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