MAJMU failed to win her long-awaited comeback in Saturday’s Gr2 Spring Fillies and Mares Challenge over 1450m on the inside track at Turffontein – she crossed the line in fourth, beaten by surprise winner Supreme Sunset, Athina and Virgo’s Babe.
Paradoxically, however, Majmu’s finishing outside of the first three would not have dented her reputation, casted doubts on her tremendous promise or changed the stable’s high regard for her, in any way whatsoever.
Instead, we’d like to contend that racing fans across the board will hold Majmu in even higher estimation in the aftermath of a topsy-turvy scramble she would arguably have won without fuss if she was given a chance to launch her challenge at the business end!
Majmu (right) had about 2.5-lengths to find when she saw daylight at the 50m-mark.
*For your own assessments of the race and the views expressed above and below, we include here a link to the replay of the Spring Challenge, courtesy of the Racing Association. This is essential viewing if you’d like to make your own informed conclusions. Post your comments in the space provided at the end of this article.
Mike de Kock, bitterly disappointed with the outcome of the event on Saturday evening, expressed what would probably be a general sentiment: “There will be ongoing debate about whether Majmu could have won, but in fairness she never had a chance to contest the finish. She was never in a position to stake a claim. ”
Majmu’s ordeal started when she was somewhat slow off the mark and as a result unable to benefit from her inside draw. Jockey S’Manga Khumalo didn’t rush her into contention, opting for a position near the rail and among the backmarkers.
While her sluggishness and Khumalo’s staying back early wouldn’t have dealt any serious blows to Majmu’s chances, Mike and assistant trainer Mathew de Kock, who saddled her, were critical of the jockey’s tactics in the vital later stages of the race.
Mathew commented: “I’m not sure why Majmu was slow off today, we didn’t foresee that. The outside track would have been more forgiving, but be that as it may, Majmu’s slow jump didn’t really affect her chances. I think that S’Manga made a mistake when he stuck to the inside rail behind horses after the field came into the turn. She was trapped between runners with nowhere to go.”
At the post Majmu is beaten just 1.50-lengths into third, low flying late. She glances curiously to her left, all at sea.
Study the replay and see if you agree:
With 300m to run and about to turn on the heat, Majmu finds herself as good as dead in the water. Just ahead of her, a flatfooted Winter Star and Maayaat start running out of steam. They drop back almost as a pair, closing the only possible running room for the wound-up favourite, nipping at their heels.
On Majmu’s outside, the timeously unleashed rivals Athina and Supreme Sunset storm up almost as one, too, swiftly plugging the last available gap on Majmu’s outside. Their ensuing duel forces Maayaat to shift momentarily even closer onto her already cramped stablemate.
The replay shows that Khumalo virtually stops riding Majmu between the 250m- and the 200m-marks. While he’s easing her out of harm’s way, the race’s top contenders are all in full cry and out of range for anything other than Kitt, the flying sports car from television’s erstwhile hit series, Knight Rider.
Mathew added: “S’Manga said after the race that he’d opted for the inside rail and kept Majmu there because he expected a passage to open between the runners ahead of him. He sat waiting for this to happen. I think he’d have done much better switching her to the outside long before they ran into the wall.”
Mike agreed, saying: “I am very disappointed in S’Manga’s poor reading of the race. He made an unnecessary error of judgement. At this track you can’t go to the rail when racing from behind. We’ll fight to see another day, but I feel for Majmu’s owner, the team around her and punters who supported her. S’Manga is still young and he has a bright future. He will learn from this.”
Majmu could possibly be aimed next at the Gr 3 Starling Stakes over 1400m at Turffontein on 1 November, prepping for the Avontuur Estate Cape Fillies Guineas on 6 December.
In summary, we consider it fair to say that, despite her defeat, Majmu showed within the race that she’s most certainly not an over-rated talent. We’ll venture to add that, given a trouble free-run, she would have won the Spring Challenge in the same fashion she’d won her first three starts – wholly unextended!
We realise that incidents like these are a part of competitive racing, especially at Group level. There is merit in the argument that champions make their own luck and win their races despite setbacks. But ask yourself first: All factors considered, and on the evidence presented, would you bet against Majmu in the Cape Fillies Guineas?