Iron man Greg Cheyne bounced back from last month’s horror fall on Nebula to ride a winner at Fairview on Friday and at Kenilworth the following day he gave Andre Nel a notable career landmark.
“I burnt the boot of my right foot (the one he broke in seven places only 15 months ago) against the rails in that fall,” Cheyne related. “The boot was a write-off but what did the damage was the horse coming up and hitting me, and the damage was to my neck.”
Saturday’s Racing. Its a Rush Pinnacle Stakes was almost as rough as Nebula’s and just under two furlongs out Asstar came off a straight line hampering Vincente, Purple Tractor, Al Wahed and Olympian. Less than 200m later Cheyne’s mount La Favourari shifted out, hampering Asstar and causing the doubly-unfortunate Purple Tractor and Al Wahed to become severely cramped for galloping room. Donovan Dillon on Asstar was given ten days for the first incident and the inquiry into the second is still ongoing.
La Favourari, who beat stable companion Ovar by nearly two lengths, gave Nel the 100th success of his short training career. “I’m surprised – I would have been happy with a place for either horse,” he said. “And when it eventually rains La Favourari is going to love the winter.”
Racing can be almost as dangerous for trainers as for jockeys and when Nordic Breeze last ran in January Justin Snaith was left limping like a war veteran but, to mangle a phrase, once cow-kicked twice shy. When the temperamental madam’s aluminium-tipped hooves came at him this time Snaith side-stepped with all the agility of a fly-half and Grant van Niekerk did the rest in the 1 200m handicap.
The in-form rider also won the opener on Big Pleasure for Joey Ramsden but the expected treble on hotpot Shrewdy in the last failed to materialise. The 2-1 favourite managed only tenth behind Corne Orffer on the Brett Crawford-trained Miss Carrera and she was afterwards found to be not striding out behind.
Basil Marcus didn’t become seven times champion in Hong Kong without learning to read horses’ minds like an equine psychiatrist and it was largely due to his study of Golden Pass that Sihle Cele left it until the shadow of the post to get up on the 66-1 chance in the 1 200m fillies handicap. “She has been a head-scratcher,” her owner explained. “She tends to get unbalanced when she comes off the bit so we decided to sit until you couldn’t wait any longer.”
Marcus snr played a big part in the making of Richard Fourie in the top jockey’s formative years and he was understandably impressed with the rider’s quick-fire treble which ended with Gin For Genius coming good at the18th attempt to initiate a double for his own son Adam.
Indeed Fourie is riding with all the dash and polish of the heady Legislate days – “Most of it is due to the good support I am getting. That makes a big difference” – but it was only by the width of a Tote ticket that he got King Of The Corn home in a three-way photo for the Soccer 13 Handicap. “I don’t know that any other jockey would have got the horse’s nose down on the line,” said an understandably impressed Mike Robinson.
Piet Steyn, who trains both the second and third, might not have been so taken with the performance! But Fourie promptly put the record straight by scoring on Steyn’s King Of Aces while promising 21-year-old Craig Bantam brought his score to 15 when making most on 28-1 shot Benjan for Mayfair and Candice Bass-Robinson in the Tabonline Handicap.
G3 - The Bet365 Classic Trial (class 1)
G3 - The Bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes (class 1)
G2 - The Bet365 Mile (class 1)
TG1 - Tattersalls Ireland Champion Novice Hdle
Grade A - Punchestown Novice H'cap Chase