IGUGU’s part-owner Andre Macdonald said that he had “died a thousand deaths” when jockey Anthony Delpech took the star filly into the lead soon after the start of Grade 1 SA Fillies Classic over 1800m on a soppy standside track at Turffontein on Saturday.
Macdonald would have breathed a sigh of relief before the field turned for home, because at this point Igugu’s rivals could still do no more than duck away from the muddy kickback of her powerful hindquarters. They were coming off the bit in numbers while she hadn’t broken out of a strong canter!
When Delpech asked Igugu to go at the 400m mark she left them properly standing in a matter of seconds. She raced further and further away, giving race caller Nico Kritsitios more time that he could ever need to sing her deserved praises.
Nico’s justifiable exuberance at Igugu’s 10.25-length victory was only surpassed by Mr Mac himself. The veteran owner’s post-race interview showed that he was probably enjoying the rare kind of thrill that goes along with rising from your grave a thousand times!
Again – legitimate joy for a man who put a million down to secure the hugely talented daughter of Galileo at the 2009 Emperor’s Palace Ready To Run Sale and later agreed to share her after a deal concluded with Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum of Dubai.
“I want to say to Sheikh Mohammed – we are winning partners and I am very proud,” Macdonald said. “Next year we will be winners in Dubai too!”
Igugu (Anthony Delpech), jewel of the turf! (JC Photos).
Delpech, always supremely confident that the machine underneath him would produce what the nation expected, even from her unusual role as pacemaker, commented: “We wanted to give Igugu a chance, but they absolutely walked over the first few hundred metres so I sent her into the lead. I have no words, what can I say? She’s very good!”
Delpech said that he had no doubt that Igugu would see out the 2450m of the Grade 2 SA Oaks, the event that could crown her South Africa’s first Triple Tiara winner and land her connections a R1 million bonus on top of the major share of the race’s R750 000 stake.
“I hope Mike finds us an pacemaker for the Oaks,” Delpech added.
Assistant trainer John Buckler said that the stable would “play it by ear” approaching 30 April and congratulated the owners on winning the Classic and Delpech for riding a well-judged race.
Fisani (Gavin Lerena, yellow cap), defeats her game stablemate Alderry (blue cap), in the Jacaranda Handicap. (JC Photos).
Sheikh Mohammed’s familiar blue-and-yellow silks were also seen in the winner’s enclosure after the Grade 3 Jacaranda Handicap over 1800m, in which Fisani reunited with jockey Gavin Lerena for a commanding win. Fisani is part-owned by Mick Goss’ Summerhill Stud Syndicate, Ronnie and Bev Napier.
Link Man ran his heart out in the Grade 1 SA Classic over 1800m, finishing fourth to English Garden, Top Seller and Galileo’s Destiny after being run out of it late in the race.
First impressions may be that Link Man didn’t see out the distance, but on-course presenter Neil Andrews pointed out that the wet track made the Classic a very tough race and that Link Man was beaten under two lengths was no disgrace.
Andrews said in his post race assessment: “I am not so sure we can say that Link Man does not see out 1800m. Conditions were tough out there and he ran a good race. He may be well suited to 1800m on a firm track and is one to watch.”
Just behind Link Man, Perana took the scenic route home, ran in snatches and still managed a good fifth place. It’s anybody’s guess when the talented import will decide to jump on terms again and put his full effort into a run, but the yard and his owners will be hoping that he’s in a galloping mood when the SA Derby rolls along on Champions Day.
By contrast the workmanlike Dark Wind, a creditable sixth in Saturday’s Classic, is sure to have his wits about him in the Derby. Mike de Kock’s suggestion that Perana is “quirky” at Turffontein is fast approaching validity. If he clowns around once more on Derby day, his more determined stablemate will be doing the laughing!
When I watched the race my first thought was Igugu could just be the best racing prospect since Horse Chestnut? But is she? Or perhaps the conditions and relatively weak string of fillies this year flattered to deceive? Mike what do you think?