‘TRUE Warrior’ seems to be the most popular thread among interpretations for ‘Vercingetorix’ available on Google – and the three-year-old colt by Silvano once again showed his mettlesome spirit with a short-head win in the Gr1 Daily News 2000 at Greyville on Saturday.
“Had the line come a stride later, Vercingetorix would’ve been beaten,” said Tellytrack’s Nico Kritsiotis moments after a nail-biting finish in which Vercingetorix managed to hold on from a low-flying No Worries, with Capetown Noir and Wylie Hall also right in the mix, all within a quarter-of-a-length off the winner.
Nothing wrong with Nico’s assessment, but the point is that Vercingetorix dug down to keep his raging rivals at bay against the odds – like only champions can do – and despite clear stamina worries for Mike de Kock and his connections going into the Durban July, the unbeaten colt’s band of supporters will probably increase in the run-up to the big race.
With 300m to run in what unfolded to be an open race, Anthony Delpech stepped on the pedal and Vercingetorix sliced through the field with a blistering turn of foot, going two lengths clear. The words “it’s a matter of how far” were barely spoken when a brigade of challengers burst boldly onto the scene, signalling an almost-certain blanket swamp with 50m left to go. On-course watchers and armchair viewers gasped for breath, rose to action, did a three-stride jinx to help carry Delpech to the line and succeeded, but only just!
Winning team: Vercingetorix’s groom Lestone, with Mike and Diane de Kock, and Anthony Delpech.
Some will argue that the track’s superstars defy penalties, disadvantages and pedigree doubts – Vercingetorix may indeed rise to the occasion once more on July Day – but here are the drawbacks: �
-His dam, National Vixen, and all her previous offspring never stayed an inch beyond 1400m.
-His 3rd and 4th dams among them produced three ARCSA Champion Sprinters in Extra Cover, Scarlet Lady and Phantom Earl.
-After the Daily News, Mike de Kock expressed his concern that Vercingetorix won’t see out 2200m, saying that “he will have to improve to win the July”.
-The hard-knocking older horses in the July, like proven stayers Pomodoro, E-Jet and Wagner, will be tough nuts to crack.
In his favour:
-Vercingetorix’s unraced 2nd dam produced a good miler in Charlie’s Island and a Gr3-placed stayer in Outswinger, who won up to 2000m.
-Unbeaten after four starts with “not much on the clock” (Mike), Vercingetorix is getting better still.
-Mike eased off on Vercingetorix after the Daily News and is convinced that there is a few lengths in the tank in the month to come.
-Mike and Anthony believe that with a more patient ride and a better-timed finish, Vercingetorix will make his presence felt.
“In my heart of hearts I am worried about Vercingetorix’s stamina, but he’s a very immature horse with lots more to come and that alone gives us plenty of hope,” Mike commented on Saturday evening.
And, after all, the Daily News alone is a race that should be celebrated without even thinking of the July. Vercingetorix went from a Maiden in March to a top Gr1 winner in early June – a superb training feat by the stable and a marvellous achievement by this courageous three-year-old.
Mike congratulated Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Maktoum’s Al Adayaat racing for their ongoing support of South African racing – the more good ones to go to Dubai for the affable Sheikh Mohammed, the better!
Mike added: “Best wishes again to the Thoroughbred Industry Transformation Programme’s Grooms Co-Op, which enabled a group of seven deserving grooms from the Riverside Co-Op to buy Vercingetorix as a weanling from Klawervlei Stud. This was a great initiative to improve the lives of the disadvantaged. The Riverside Seven netted R1,4-million when we bought this colt at the National Sale.”
Earlier in the day, Andre and Joyce MacDonald’s newcomer Celtic Legend finished well to win her 1000m debut. “I’m glad we have another promising young horse for Mr Mac. I think Celtic Legend is a decent sort who will win her races,” Mike said.
Celtic Legend: More to come!