THE stable is on fire approaching the J&B Met, with another five winners added to the kitty on Tuesday after five at the weekend.
Assistant trainer Nathan Kotzen saddled four of them at the Scottsville meeting, along with two seconds, while John Buckler saddled the fifth winner of the day at Turffontein (see report in News Briefs on home page).
Lammerskraal-bred Viva Maria is the type of filly every owner wants, because she has courage and fighting spirit. Owner-breeder Mike Rattray will be looking forward to a good career for this daughter of Jet Master, who won her third race from only four starts with a lion-hearted display in Race 5 over 1950m at the Pietermaritzburg track. (see headline photo, Gold Circle).
Viva Maria (33-10) was way out at the weights with the likes of Saltwater Girl and Isle Of Dogs after beating them narrowly last month, but she had their measure again despite this.
Viva Maria, courageous.
Viva Maria (Anthony Delpech), won in much similar style. She tore to the front, came back to her field before the turn, stretched away again and then fought of several challenges from her rivals, who were chasing her like a pack of dogs over the last 150m.
She kept finding extra, even more in the last few strides when it looked as if Isle Of Dogs would come to grab her and Delpech said: “Viva Maria is still learning to do the right thing, but she will learn, she’s starting to do it on the gallop track at home. She never settled, towed me along after the break. But I rate her, she’s a good filly.”
Judy and Anton Proctor with Celestial Cloud (Muzi Yeni up), after Race 6.
Anton Proctor and Larry Nestadt’s import Celestial Cloud (9-2) also found extra late to win Race 6 over 1950m, and she’s another who looks destined for more wins. The four-year-old filly by Invincible Spirit was in the leading line 400m from home but drifted off a straight course, which almost cost her the race.
Jockey Muzi Yeni, who straightened her to win, said: “We were in touch and she took forever to get going, but she gave me a beautiful kick at the 200m mark.”
Delpech rode Sheikh Hamdan’s Jet Legend (18-10) to an authoritative win in Race 8, an Allowance Plate over 1500m. He said: “He tends to over-race, but they went at a good pace which suited us because he settled beautifully. I didn’t think he would stay, but that’s why Mike always says we jockeys must do the riding and leave the training to him!”
Jet Legend, fluent win.
Kotzen commented: “Jet Legend has has had one or two problems, but he’s over them now and he’s always shown us ability.”
Strike Smartly colt Governor General (2-1) raced in the weakest field of all, but he was arguably the most impressive, drawing away effortlessly to win Race 9 over 1600m by 6.25-lengths in the hands of Delpech.
Kotzen said: “This one’s going the right way, improving. The form of his last win stood up so we expected a big run. Thanks to the owners and Filly Bowles, who raised him and has always thought a lot of him.”
Governor General is owned by Chris Saunders in partnership with Lady O’Reilly.
Governor General, going the right way.