In a great finale to the Durban Champions Season, Greyville racecourse played host to the Ladbrokes Gold Cup day, featuring South Africa’s only Group 1 race over 3200m, the Ladbrokes Gold Cup.
Labelled “Super Saturday”, the day also featured two juvenile races, the Group 1 Thekwini Stakes for fillies over 1600m and the Group 1 Premier’s Champion Stakes for colts over the same distance, as well as the Group 1 Champions Cup over 1800m.
After a frustrating season, it was a red letter day letter day for trainer Dean Kannemeyer, as his two runners, In Writing(ARG) and Blake, crossed the line in first and third in the R1 million, Group 1 Ladbrokes Gold Cup(3200m). Not to be outdone, veteran champion jockey, Felix Coetzee set a new record by winning his eighth Gold Cup.
Felix Coetzee salutes as In Writing wins the Gold Cup, picture Liesl King
Coetzee delivered a peach of a ride, sending In Writing into the lead as the field past the post for the first time. After ensuring a good pace, Coetzee was content to let Princess of Light and Marthinus Mienie take the lead, as the field entered the back straight. Keeping In Writing behind the leader on the rails, Coetzee managed to stay out of trouble, as several runners in the large field encountered interference in the latter stages of the race.
With In Writing still full of running coming into the home straight, Coetzee sent him up the centre of the track to contest the lead. Despite the challenge, Princess of Light kept going under Mienie, as Blake (Karl Neisius) and Seal(Robbie Fradd) also joined the fray.
The pair, however made no impression, as In Writing pulled clear to the delight of Coetzee, who saluted with his whip as he crossed the line. Princess of Light, by speed sire Var, ran the race of her life to finish second, 0.75L back, while Blake and Nesius finished third, a further 0.75L back.
Smiles all round as Felix Coetzee wins a record eighth Gold Cup, picture Liesl King
The six-year-old In Writing, by Editor’s Note out of the Candy Stripes mare Inalay, has shown marked improvement since Kannemeyer removed the blinkers, winning three of his last five starts, while recording his sixth victory for owner Fieldspring Racing.
In the first of the Group races, the Vaughan Marshall trained All is Secret, showed that her unplaced run behind Rumya(NZ) on Vodacom Durban July day was just a hiccup, as she powered clear under Anton Marcus to win the R500 000, Group 1 Thekwini Stakes (1600m) unextended.
All Is Secret and Anton Marcus dominate the Thekwini Stakes, picture Liesl King
Racing midfield, All Is Secret fought for her head in the early stages, but once the field entered the home straight, Marcus eased his stranglehold, sending the filly up the centre of the track to win by 1.75L, under a hands-and-heels ride.
All Is Secret, by Captain Al out of the Goldkeeper mare Secret of Victoria, recorded her third victory and second Group 1 from five starts, for owners Messrs M J Jooste and G M Miller.
In the next juvenile Group race, the R500 000, Group 1 Premier’s Champion Stakes (1600m), the Vodacom Durban July winning team of trainer Sean Tarry, owner Chris van Niekerk and jockey Piere Strydom celebrated again as The Hangman raced to an upset victory. Strydom quietly tracked the favourite, Black Toga, all the way into the home straight, before pulling clear to challenge.
Piere Strydom and The Hangman well clear in the Premier's Champion Stakes, picture Liesl King
After having to negotiate a drifting Black Toga, The Hangman simply stepped up a gear to put daylight between himself and the chasing pack, in a matter of strides. Demonstrating his superb acceleration, The Hangman crossed the line, 2.25 lengths in front, with Black Toga second and Love Struck in third.
The Hangman by Jallad out of the Cee’s Tizzy mare Helleborus Blue, recorded his second victory from six starts for owner Chris van Niekerk.
In the final Group 1 race, the R700 000, Champions Cup (1800m), the day belong to the Cape raider Master Plan, who was unlucky not to get a start in the Vodacom Durban July.
Ridden by Muzi Yeni, the Greg Ennion trained Master Plan, raced midfield one off the rail, before engaging in a protracted battle with a flying Black Wing under Karis Teetan. Yeni, who has not seen the winner’s circle for some time, was determined to win the battle and under his vigorous urgings, Master Plan managed to get his nose in front on the line.
Master Plan and Muzi Yeni (closest) get up on the line to win the Champions Cup, picture Liesl King
By Jet Master out of the Royal Chalice mare, Princess Polly, Master Plan was recording his third win in the familiar black and red silks of owner, Fred Crabbia.