ROMEO FRANCIS, PALACE OF DREAMS
Jack Milner: While Mike de Kock and Sean Tarry came away with wins in the Grade 1 Horse Chestnut Stakes and the Grade 2 Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks, it was good to see some of the smaller stables pick up victories in the Grade 3 races.
Perhaps the most thrilling win came for Romeo Francis in the Grade 3 Pretty Polly Stakes when the aptly named Palace Of Dreams, who went off at 45-1, flew up late to beat 12-10 favourite Gin Fizz by 0.50 lengths. Francis runs a very small stable and he picked up this daughter of Potala Palace for just R15,000.
The filly was still a maiden going into the race but had finished second in both her starts. However, Francis said he battled to find a jockey when Craig Zackey, who had ridden her in both her starts wasn’t available. “He said he was going to ride one of the (Tobie) Spies horses,” said Francis.
That turned out to be a real boon for Ryan Munger who picked up the ride and notched up his 100th winner of the season. “I think the fact she was still a maiden and had a weight advantage worked in her favour,” said Munger.
Spies had three runners in the race but they finished fifth, sixth and seventh. Nevertheless, the stable still had a winner on the day as Van Halen captured the Man O’ War Sprint. He beat Russian Prince by 0.30 lengths and went off at 20-1.
“He was working well enough but I thought he may need it as this was his first run since coming back from Cape Town.”
Van Halen was ridden by apprentice Dennis Schwarz who had just notched up a quick double as a race earlier he won the Grade 3 Protea Stakes for Paul Matchett with Twilight Moon. In his previous start Twilight Moon dead-heated with De Kock-trained Frosted Gold but as he was 1kg worse off, the turnaround seemed unlikely. But he moved up 200m out and swept into the lead for a 1.25-length win.
Twilight Moon was another “cheapie” as this son of Wylie Hall cost just R20,000.
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