SHEIKH Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai has two ultra promising runners on his hands in two-year-old colt Soft Falling Rain (headline photo, winning) and the year older gelding Royal Ridge, who both won at Turffontein on Saturday.
The pair also won together at the meeting held at Turffontein on 14 February and by the way they are progressing through the ranks chances are this will happen again as they contest respective races on big feature days!
Soft Falling Rain made it three wins from three starts under Tshwaro Appie, winning the Listed Storm Bird Stakes (R135,000), over 1000m from outsider War Horse.
Soft Falling Rain, who gave weight to all his rivals, appeared a split second slow away, but he made up the lost ground quickly and was right up in the firing line racing past the 600m mark.
He took command and quickened a few lengths clear coming into the last 200m without Appie having to apply the stick. Soft Falling Rain was eased down in the final strides, allowing War Horse to get within three-quarters of a length at the line, but there was plenty of merit in the win all the same and assistant trainer John Buckler said: “The win was impressive as Tshwaro gave Soft Falling Rain an easy ride. They geared down approaching the winning post.”
Soft Falling Rain is by National Assembly from the Giant’s Causeway mare, Gardener’s Delight, and was raised at Highlands Farm. Buckler said that the forthcoming Gr 2 SA Nursery was likely to be earmarked as a target for Soft Falling Rain.
He was similarly delighted with the winning performance of Royal Ridge, who beat a highly competitive field of talented three-year-olds in the Egoli Mile, his first attempt over 1600m and on the strength of his win, most certainly not his last.
Royal Ridge raced a few lengths off the clip and was placed next to the running rail by Anthony Delpech. The gelding by Tiger Ridge accelerated smartly in Delpech’s hands and came to the front 250m out. They easily held off a charge from Heavy Metal, a close fourth to Golden Chateau in last week’s Gr 2 Gauteng Guineas.
Royal Ridge clocked a fast 96.22s, underlining too, the merit of his win. “We dropped him out and he relaxed today and won a really good race,” said Buckler. Royal Ridge was bred by Frank Sharp from his well-performed race mare, Princess Faberge, and he’s a chestnut to keep a close eye on in this season’s classics.