CHRIS Saunders has bred a good filly in Festival Of Fire (photo), who lines up in Saturday’s Grade 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge over 1600m at Clairwood, and the matching of his mare Fuel The Fire to the leading KZN sire Kahal might have unearthed something close to the gene combination that produced the Province’s greatest ever thoroughbred.
KZN breeders have made many attempts to produce another Jet Master from the family of his dam Jet Lightning, but such are the vagaries of the game that there continued to be only one bold black type member on the top half of the page.
However, that all changed when the Mike de Kock-trained Festival Of Fire routed the opposition in the Grade 2 KRA Fillies Guineas in May this year.
Fuel The Fire is by an unplaced daughter of Jet Lightning by All Fired Up and she herself is by the moderate stallion Russian Revival, who was shipped to Kenya before his best progeny Imbongi made headlines.
Fuel The Fire also produced the promising Governor General, who finished second to Pomodoro in the Grade 3 Tony Ruffel Stakes as a three-year-old last year, and now races in Mauritius.
Saunders, a veteran of KZN breeding, owns Festival Of Fire in partnership with Lady O’Reilly.
The De Kock yard said that Festival Of Fire was a light filly that did not take much work and she can therefore be raced often.
She showed her class and versatility by following her KRA Fillies Guineas win with a superb second to the brilliant Via Africa in the Grade 1 SA Fillies Sprint last time out just two weeks ago.
On Saturday she is up against a top class field that includes the Equus Horse Of The Year Variety Club, the reigning Vodacom Durban July champion Pomodoro and the amazing mare Beach Beauty, who like her is small, but possesses plenty of speed and a superb turn of foot.
She is as consistent as Beach Beauty, so clearly has plenty of heart, and will be more forward than those in the field that are using the race as a stepping stone to the Vodacom Durban July.
Anthony Delpech has won on her before and as a world class big race rider will give her every chance from her pole position draw.
It would be no surprise to see Festival Of Fire giving the big guns some cheek and she has a definite Trifecta chance.