MARY SLACK has enjoyed many a fine afternoon in her long and distinguished career as a breeder and owner, but Saturday’s Guineas Day at Turffontein must rate as one of her most exciting ever race days.
Mary’s Europa Point made it four-in-a-row with a win in the Grade 3 Acacia Handicap over 1600m, Kavanagh captured the Gr 2 Hawaii Stakes over 1400m in fine style and Ilha Belha failed by the proverbial whisker to land the Gr 2 Gauteng Fillies Guineas – in all, a marvellously successful day for the owner of Wilgerbosdrift Stud.
It was just a matter of time before Rock Of Gibraltar’s daughter Europa Point added some black type to her impressive track record and she did so recording her seventh win from only 11 career starts.
Jockey Anthony Delpech had Europa Point placed in midfield and she gradually improved her position to collar the strong-running leader, Louvre, some 100m short of the line.
Delpech said: “I wanted to drop her out because that’s the way she’s been winning and Louvre’s good pace suited us today. The best part about Europa Point is that she tries very hard. Today was a test for her and it was a very good win!”
Mary added: “I wasn’t convinced that she’s a 2000m filly when she won last time, but now I think she will be at her best over 2000m.”
Kavanagh, a son of Wilgerbosdrift’s resident stallion Tiger Ridge, is deadly effective over 1400m at Turffontein, having won his only three previous starts at the course and distance impressively. He was available at generous odds of 5-1 and he proved his liking for this venue again, quickening clear early and winning the Hawaii Stakes very well for the in-form Delpech.
“When he saw daylight today he wanted to go and that was a bit early, so I shouted at him to keep him going before he could start his old tricks,” the jockey said. “He’s a great horse, he’s like a Mercedes Benz at work in the morning,” he added.
Kavanagh had been gelded several months ago as he wasn’t reproducing his work on the racetrack and it had always been a tough decision to make for Mary, considering his stallion’s pedigree. “I made the decision under duress,” she said, “but I am happy with the decision today.”
Stayer Atyeb, like Europa Point an offspring of Rock Of Gibraltar, made his fitness count to win the Gr 3 Aquanaut Stakes over 2450m. He took over the running from a tiring DJ Detzky with 1000m to run – “a brave move up the Turffontein hill” according to race caller Clyde Basel – and kept running despite also coming under pressure in the closing stages.
“He’s one-paced and that’s why Anthony skipped clear,” said Diane de Kock after the race.
Atyeb has won three of 10 for owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum.