Battle Force gives trainer and owners a second Grade 1 victory in eight days during the KwaZulu-Natal Champion Season.
Hot on the heels of War Of Athena’s win in the Grade 1 Woolavington 2000 last Saturday, Paul Matchett and owners Roy Wentzel and Dr Rose Waterman-Wentzel were back in the Grade 1 spotlight as Battle Force (16-1) recorded his sixth win in just a dozen starts when landing the Golden Horse Sprint at Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Sunday.
In a race in which 1.95 lengths covered the first seven runner home, Battle Force finished a neck ahead of Eden Roc (14-1). Another 0.30 lengths back in third came 4-1 favourite MK’s Pride with Captain Tatters (25-1) in fourth.
The Golden Horse is always a competitive handicap sprint but Matchett, many times champion trainer in Zimbabwe, knows how to play the handicap game. Battle Force was 2.5kg under sufferance in the official ratings despite carrying joint bottom weight but the gelding was still under the radar as far as the handicap was concerned.
He had received the maximum of eight points for each of his last two wins, but it could have been more.
There were many anxious moments for the connections as Battle Force first cast a front shoe on the way to the start and while being re-shod, cast a hind shoe.
“He was a handful,” admitted Zackey. It was finally decided to remove both hind shoes. “We thought he may be scratched at one point,” conceded Wentzel. “But Paul, to his credit, knows the horse well and suggested he run without the shoes.”
“To go through all that frustration and win shows he’s a good horse,” concluded Zackey.
It was also a second Grade 1 win in a week for freshman stallion Act Of War.
Singforafa, third behind Celtic Sea and Run Fox Run last year, put the record straight as she galloped her opposition into the ground in the SA Fillies Sprint. Singforafa is well travelled as Corne Spies is never one to sit back home with a fit horse.
However, Singforafa had something of a patchy record in two recent visits to Scottsville. On both occasions she looked a blinder at the weights in lesser company but failed to deliver.
That was not the case this time, as she found her best form. Ryan Munger had her out with the pace early and she just kept rolling.
Favourite True To Life was in trouble early as Gavin Lerena hunted daylight but she was never travelling well enough to take any gaps and finished a well-beaten fourth, with Vernichey, last year’s Allan Robertson winner, just getting the better of Gallic Princess.
Vaughan Marshall has an eye for a yearling, one only needs to go back in his record, starting way back when with Cape Guineas winners Sea Warrior and Captain Al.
He looks to have picked another plum in Ambiorix who added to an already phenomenal Champions Season for Marshall with victory in the Gold Medallion.
An end-to-end winner on debut, Luke Ferraris admitted to a possible error when beaten in the Cape Nursery. “I may have made a mistake. I had him in behind horses and it didn’t look like his run.
“I asked Mr Marshall if I could ride him like in his first race. He has a very relaxed running style. He pinged the gate and just kept rolling.”
Calvin Habib is slowly building a reputation as a reliable rider on a big occasion, and he cemented that opinion with his first Grade 1 winner when steering Under Your Spell to a convincing victory in the Allan Robertson Championship, giving Sean Tarry a one-two with Sound Of Warning edging out hot-favourite Sheela.
Given that Lyle Hewitson is the Tarry first-call rider, Sound Of Warning appeared to be the stable elect after Under Your Spell took a seven-length drubbing at her last start in the Grade 2 SA Fillies Nursery.
It was obviously a below par performance as she had twice previously had the better of Nursery winner Heavens Girl.
Racing handily for much of the race, Under Your Spell went clear 300m out and was not for the catching. Short-priced favourite Sheela was in trouble a long way out but was game enough to make Sound Of Warning work hard for her second place. – Gold Circle