KAVANAGH, beaten on objection in the Grade 1 Golden Horsehoe at Clairwood and all over a winner but at the line in the Grade 1 Premier’s Champion Stakes at Greyville last season, bagged the Grade 3 Graham Beck Stakes over 1400m at Turffontein on Saturday.
Mary Slack’s talented three-year-old beat a superb field from a wide draw, a victory that carries even more merit considering that he was galloped into and returned to the winner’s enclosure with deep cuts on his hind legs.
Happy owner Mary Slack (middle), jockey Kevin Shea and Mike de Kock pose for the winning photo with the pretty Racing Association girls.
Mike said: “Kavanagh was badly chopped behind when he came into the winner’s enclosure. Originally I thought that a horse following him had done the damage and that one of our rival jockeys were to blame, but in speaking to stipes it transpired that Kavanagh was galloped into when Kevin Shea eased him back slightly in the run-up to the home bend. He had to get some cover at that stage, because Kavanagh over-raced early to overcome his wide draw.”
That said, Mike praised Shea for a top-class ride. Kavanagh, drawn widest of all in this powerful 17-horse line-up, bounced out like a bullet and raced into contention early. With his pace well well applied early, the lightly-raced colt would have used a fair proportion of his reserves, not ideal at all in a race of this calibre.
He shed even more energy by fighting Shea for a number of strides when the jock stepped on the breaks as they approached the turn. He only found a more relaxed striding rhythm as they swung for home, and movd into a position behind the free-striding pace-setter, Captain’s Key.
Kavanagh’s got the gears, for sure. He’d barely settled into cruise mode when Shea saw a gap between Captain’s Key and his stablemate Wildest Dream and decided to take it. With 450m to go and, after what he’d been through, this was undoubtedly crunch time.
A trip as intimidating and eventful as this one would have sunk a horse of lesser quality for lack of breath and weakening legs, but Kavanagh quickened readily, raced into a two-length lead and kept going well to win by 1.25 lengths from Galileo’s Destiny and Captain’s Key.
“One only knows how talented certain horses are when you sit on them,” said Shea, highly impressed with his mount’s class and courage. “I still think it was a travesty that we lost the Golden Horseshoe on objection and Gold Onyx just grabbed Kavanagh late in the Premier’s Stakes, but he is stronger now and he was 5kg better off at the weights with Gold Onyx. On that alone I’d knew he’d go close.”
Slack, who’d also won the third race with Irish-bred Dagana, said she was delighted with what she termed Kavanagh’s “sensational” win from his poor draw.
The downside of Kavanagh’s turbulent passage to victory is that the wounds to his legs will have to heal before he can resume hard work at the gallop track. With only three weeks to the Dingaans, his participation is in the balance.
See video section, home page. Refresh for Graham Beck Stakes.
Headline photo: Kavanagh wins the Graham Beck Stakes.