NEBRAAS WINS THE GOLD CUP
Nebraas showed his victory in the Gold Vase on 3 July was no fluke as he stuck to his task resolutely to capture the Grade 3 Marshalls World Of Sport Gold Cup over 3200m at Hollywoodbets on Saturday.
Trained by Sean Tarry and ridden by Lyle Hewitson, Nebraas, who went off 5-2 favourite, struck the front some 200m from home and then fought on gamely to hold off Silver Host (9-2) and Richard Fourie by a neck.
Third place went to Out Of Your League (25-2) with Tarry-trained Before Noon (20-1) in fourth.
Hewitson rode a faultless race, aiming for the apex of the first bend and slotting in nicely two off the pace. Well placed Nebraas, travelled a little hard from there on as last year’s winner Paths Of Victory tried for a repeat, but once turned loose at the top of the straight, Nebraas went clear of the chasing pack. Silver Host was one from last turning for home and took a bump crossing the subway but had turned on the afterburners. He only went down by a neck, the 5.5kg swing in the weights possibly the difference between the two.
“It’s amazing how racing can be,” said Hewitson. “You saw my Group 1 winner (Rain In Holland) when everything went wrong in the space of 100m and she got me out of the fire and got up on the line, and then this race where went absolutely perfect and he won well.”
Tarry, who was saddling his second Gold Cup winner, added: “He’s been asking for the ground for a while.
“But as you can see, he won’t let the bit go so I just felt the whole time that he wasn’t ready for it, and the more time I was giving him he was actually disappointing us.
“So, I had to take the bull by the horns and throw him in the deep end in the Vase and he swam remarkably well. We’ve always known he was a staying type and we were pretty confident today,” Tarry concluded.
Newly crowned champion trainer Justin Snaith, after a day of disappointments, had his fortunes turn as Jet Dark came alive under S’manga Khumalo to win the Grade 1 HKJK World Pool Champions Cup. Second was Catch Twentytwo with Do It Again running another game race in third after a coming together with Got The Greenlight halfway up the home straight.
Jet Dark, after victory in the Grade 1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate, beating Rainbow Bridge and Do It Again, disappointed in the Grade 1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge, but Snaith admitted afterwards that Jet Dark probably needed the run in the Gold Challenge.
“This horse, he looks the part. You don’t fluke the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate. It’s not a race you win by chance. You have to beat a lot of top, top horses and in his first run back he just needed the outing. We had to gallop him at Scottsville and he jarred himself up. I was just so glad that we got him 100% for this race.”
The category of Equus Champion Sprinter was blown wide open as Pearl Of Asia caused a major boil over in the Grade 1 Mercury Sprint with hot-favourite Rio Querari finishing a well beaten fifth. The minor placings going to Al Sakeet, MK’s Pride and Ultra Magnus.
A win for Rio Querari will have cemented his place as Champion Sprinter but on a day of many upsets, it was not to be.
Bohica, Singforafa and Ultra Magnus set smart fractions up front with Al Sakeet and Pearl Of Asia seemingly out with the washing, second last and last.
The field spread across the track in the charge for home with Ultra Magnus and MK’s Pride going hammer and tongs up the inside rail and Rio Querari making steady progress up the centre.
However, Serino Moodley must have felt like Moses facing the Red Sea as the field parted and he got a perfect passage through accompanied by Al Sakeet. The opposition was treading water over the final 200m as the pair scythed through to the line.
“This horse was working up a storm at home and I told Mr Hill that I would not be surprised if this horse popped up today,” said Moodley.
Shannon Hill, standing in for his father confirmed: “He missed the break but the last 400 to finish he can really turn it on.”
Pearl Of Asia was Moodley’s first Grade 1 winner and was a tonic for trainer Robbie Hill who has been battling Covid for the past two weeks.
The question “what’s in a name” got answered in this race because while the Robbie and Shannon Hill-trained runner went off at 40-1, Asian bettors into the World Pools poured money on to the runner and he ended up paying R18.10 for a win.
Champion jockey Lyle Hewitson leaves these shores next week to take up a contract in Japan and he can put the Grade 1 Thekwini Stakes on his CV after a cracking ride on hot favourite Rain In Holland.
All appeared to be going smoothly until the top of the straight. “I overcame the draw beautifully, did no work,” said Hewitson. “She’s such an easy ride, one off with no cover was no problem for her. Of course, I noticed that the pace was pretty slack but I didn’t want to take it up and get chased by an inferior horse and waste petrol.
“So, I thought just wait until the 700 and build up the revs. I tried to get her going at the top of the hill but unfortunately the pacemaker lugged off left and carried me a bit deep into the straight. My main danger slipped up the inside and a horse comes around me and puts me in a tight spot. In the space of 200 m everything’s gone from smooth to terrible and only very smart horses can get you out of trouble from there.
Sean Tarry concurred. “The way the race panned out they went way too slow and she’s a staying type filly and when everything quickened up, I knew she would be in trouble. But testament to her ability she pulled it out of the flames.”
Rain In Holland snatched it on the line with Kaylene and Supreme Quest two short-heads back.
Good Traveller shrugged off a couple of hard luck races to run out a comfortable winner of the Gr1 Premier’s Champion Stakes. Grant van Niekerk bounced him out of the gate and was quickly onto the fence. From there on it was plain sailing for Glen Kotzen’s runner who finished well clear of rank outsider Honokalani who just got the better of William Robertson in a driving finish for the minor placings.
“Last time he was three wide from a tough draw,” conceded Van Niekerk. “When he was in the entries, I told Mr Kotzen, I actually begged him. I said ‘please run him I think he’s a huge runner’.
“I was in the perfect position and everything work in my favour from my No 13 draw, one off and two back. I couldn’t have asked for a better position. From there it was pretty simple and straight forward,” concluded van Niekerk.