ILHA Bela’s stunning win in Saturday’s Gr 2 SA Oaks at Turffontein was most reminiscent of the victory recorded by her dam, the great Ilha Da Vitoria, in the 2005 Summer Cup.
Similarly, Ilha Bela came to the standside fence for her run from the back of the field, reeled in her opposition with the minimum of fuss and drew away effortlessly to win. Ilha Da Vitoria’s Cup chalked up a five-length margin, Ilha Bela won by 6.25-lengths, her rivals outclassed.
Ilha Bela, by Fort Wood, is a similarly small filly but, like her mother, her size is boosted with big talent and courage.
“She’s not the biggest, but she has the class. She lacks size, but she makes up in heart,” said jockey Anton Marcus, who had steered Ilha Bela to victory for Mary Slack. “I had my reservations about the 2450m, but Mike gets them to improve.”
Mike was full of praise and made some notable comments about Ilha Bela: “I’m on record as saying that Ilha Da Vitoria gave me the most pleasure of any horse I have ever trained and Ilha Bela is similar. She is happy, chirpy, on her toes and a pleasure to train. She is in the mould of her mother and also comes from behind. She might be just as good as Ilha Da Vitoria, if not better and she’ll be a big runner in the Durban July this year!”
Mary, who had a brilliant day on Guineas afternoon at Turffontein in February, commented: “I’ve had good days at the races, but this was so far the best. I will have to look again and again. It was amazing.”
Ilha Bela boasts four wins from 10 starts and she’s likely to let loose now. Follow her.