SPORTING POST previews Friday evening’s Turffontein feature and reports:
Mike de Kock holds a strong three cornered hand in the R1 million Gr1 L Jaffee Empress Club Stakes to be run over a mile under lights at Turffontein on Friday evening.
A top class field of ten female racers line up to pay tribute to two characters who shaped the history and rewrote the record books in our recent past.
Phumelela are to be lauded for acknowledging the human and equine legends of the past, and while Friday evening’s ladies night is seemingly world’s away from the tradition and decorum of the Jaffee era, they certainly knew how to party then. And doubtless, the new generation will do it in their own unique way at Turffontein.
Laurie Jaffee, whose father founded Premier Milling, has probably contributed more to racing than anyone else over the past 50 years. He was granted his colours in 1959, and quickly made his mark with one of his early successes a win in the Summer Handicap with King’s Guard.
Jaffee held numerous top positions in the industry. He was a former head executive steward of the Jockey Club, a past chairman of the Johannesburg Turf Club and Transvaal Racing Club, and life vice-president of both.
He owned numerous top horses, including Durban July winner Ilustrador, Bush Telegraph, the stallion Jallad and champion filly Empress Club. But it was another July victor, London News, winner of the Greyville race in 1996, who gave Jaffee perhaps his most memorable day in racing when the horse powered to a ground-breaking win in the QEII Stakes in Hong Kong the following year.
Jaffee passed away in 2008 at the age of 85. The brilliant Empress Club, a former South African Horse of the Year was bred in Argentina and imported as a yearling by Jaffee to South Africa. She won 15 of 20 races, including eight Gr1 races, and was a five-time South African champion.
Following her importation into the USA, she won the 1994 Gr3 Hillsborough Handicap at Bay Meadows.Empress Club sadly died suddenly on 19 December 2004 at the Beck family’s Gainesway Farm near Lexington.
De Kock won the race last year with Europa Point for Wilgerbosdrift Stud and Iha Bela will be looking to continue that fine tradition this year.Whatever the case, the De Kock coupling may be the Pick Six banker option on a tough card.
Ilha Bela appears to have found her form feet very nicely with two wins from her last three starts. This was after a flat effort in the Summer Cup, where she ran a forgettable thirteenth.
Her most recent effort was a narrow defeat at the hands of Cherry On The Cake in a Conditions Plate over 1800m at Turffontein, and we saw how that one went on to win the Jacaranda Handicap in good style.
The 3yo Festival Of Fire comes in under Thunder Dance as the next best rated runner in the field, and on the basis of the question marks against the Cape visitor, is our first choice.
The daughter of Kahal has won 5 of 8 starts and her sole try at a mile delivered a fifth place finish to her star stablemate Rumya in the Cape Fillies Guineas. Festival Of Fire showed her wellbeing by winning her last outing against her own sex, after an unsuccessful attempt at the Hawaii Stakes. It niggles that Delpech may have opted to ride Ilha Bela, but Robbie Fradd is more than a capable replacement and she will be running at them late.
The De Kock coupling is a powerhouse and Acacia Handicap winner Amur Affair gets the services of Anton Marcus again. He won the Acacia Handicap in sizzling style on Amur Affair, and he rides her again tonight. Amur Affair ran a 3,50 length fifth to Slumdogmillionaire in the Gr1 Horse Chestnut, but will be a more serious proposition against her own sex here. If One goes further back, her course and distance form is top class, and her great second to General Sherman in the Listed Wolf Power stands out in relevance.
We are going all the way with De Kock and with the well weighted 3yo Festival Of Fire and Robbie Fradd. Festival Of Fire is selected to win at the expense of Amur Affair, with Ilha Bela for third. – from www.sportingpost.co.za