Jack Milner: Rainbow Bridge got the better of Catch Twentytwo close home to win the Grade 1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge over 1600m at Greyville for the second successive year.
Perfectly ridden by Luke Ferraris, the Eric Sands-trained gelding, who went off at odds of 5-8, beat home Catch Twentytwo (25-1) by 0.30 lengths with Chimichuri Run (40-1) another 2.10 lengths back in third. Fourth place went to Seeking The Stars (9-2).
Ferraris has now ridden the Eric Sands-trained runner on five occasions and has notched up a record of three wins and two seconds.
Cirillo made the early pace from Seeking The Stars while Rainbow Bridge was held up in fifth place.
In the straight the pacemaker faded quickly but Catch Twentytwo under Gavin Lerena slipped through along the inside rail and almost looked as if he would cause the upset. But Ferraris had it all under control and Rainbow Bridge got the better of him close home to win well.
Rainbow Bridge, an Ideal World gelding owned by Mike and Norma Rattray and bred by Wilgerbosdrift and Mauritzfontein, has now won 11 of his 23 starts, including five Grade 1s.
He will now head into the Vodacom Durban July with top weight, but with much fan support.
Neither Belgarion nor Jet Dark ever looked like winning but are sure to come on for the run.
Ferraris, who will shortly be joining his father in Hong Kong, said: “I had a plan and it was working well until about the 1000m when the horses I was following got on the rail and there was my cover gone. I was then worried that he would start travelling too hard.
“But he’s in such great condition that he didn’t travel any harder and he pulled off a great win.
“He’s got five gears and he was nowhere near his maximum today. I know it looked close but the way he was travelling under me I was never really worried.
“That’s what good horses do, I suppose. He’s an amazing animal and he will do anything you ask.”
Sands added that Rainbow Bridge has taken time to mature. “He’s just got better and better.
“He always runs a little flat in his second run after a rest so we left a little bit of beef on the bone for today in case he takes the race badly, We still have three weeks until the July.
“He’s just a phenomenal horse.”