MALMOOS WINS SA CLASSIC
Jack Milner: Get ready for Derby Day – it’s going to be one helluva ride.
Malmoos and War Of Athena won the respective Grade 1 World Sports Betting SA Classic and Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic over 1800m at Turffontein on Saturday and will be looking to wrap up the final legs of the WSB SA Triple Crown and Wilgerbosdrift Triple Tiara at Turffontein on Saturday 3 April.
All that has to happen is for Malmoos to win the Grade 1 WSB SA Derby and War Of Athena to claim the Grade 2 Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks, both over 2450m, for South African racing history to be made.
It will be the first time two horses go into the final day of the Triple Crown and Triple Tiara as live runners.
Trainer Mike de Kock confirmed the Derby was on the calendar for Malmoos. “It’s been obvious that the further he goes, the better he gets.
“On pedigree he has to stay so we have to have a go at the Derby. He’s either going to stay or he isn’t. We think he will so we must try.”
Oozing even more confidence was jockey Muzi Yeni about the chances of War Of Athena. “Her turn of foot was devastating today and that gives me even more confidence when she goes over 2450m. If she comes into the SA Oaks sound like she was today, I don’t think it’s going to be a contest.”
Remarkably, Malmoos blew in the betting and was available at 5-2 at the off. Runner-up Second Base found most of the support and started at 37-20 with third-placed Catch Twentytwo finding late support to go off the 22-10 bookmakers’ favourite, although Malmoos remained TAB favourite.
This time jockey Luke Ferraris was able to settle him in fourth place as Shah Akbar made sure of a decent enough pace. Shah Akbar tried to slip the field in the straight but was quickly reeled in by the more fancied horses.
Second Base moved in quickly with Malmoos but while the former was under pressure, Ferraris had not yet moved on the favourite. At that point Catch Twentytwo moved into third but he was always chasing.
In the final 100m Malmoos drew off to win by two lengths from Second Base, who just held off Catch Twentytwo by a neck. Flying Carpet was 0.50 lengths away in fourth.
“The manner in which he put it to bed today was really impressive.” said Ferraris. “When you let him go at the 400m it gives you goosebumps, the manner in which he can do it.
“He is a champion – he’s Malmoos.”
Asked whether the horse will go the extra in WSB SA Derby and complete the WSB SA Triple Crown, Ferraris replied: “He’ll go the 2400m.”
De Kock complimented Ferraris on his ride. “He’s doing a helluva job on the horse. Super-confident ride today. He’s doing a lot right for a young man.
“It’s quite nice. He’s the third generation of Ferraris’s I’ve been associated with and he’s probably the only one to do me a real favour,” quipped De Kock.
Nothing more than an exercise gallop was how Yeni described War Of Athena’s victory.
Going off at 7-20, Paul Matchett’s charge cruised to a 1.80-length victory over Netta (15-1), who in turn put 2.40 lengths between herself and third-placed Magical Flight (33-1). Sparkling Water (7-1) was a neck further back in fourth.
Stable companion Gee For Go set a somewhat sedate pace up front while Yeni had War Of Athena in sixth place on the outside of Sparkling Water, some five lengths off the leader. But once in the straight, the hot-pot favourite easily made up the ground and hit the front on a tight rain.
From that point on, they were all running for second.
Netta, who Paul Peter was confident of a top-three finish, had been at the back of the field but moved up quickly into second. While not troubling the winner, Warren Kennedy’s mount had the rest well beaten.
“It was an exercise gallop,” said Yeni. “Obviously, a lack of opposition. We had a great game plan from the stable and it worked perfectly.
“She’s a special horse and I’m privileged to be on top of her.”