AUSTRALIAN-bred filly Ataab (headline photo) made it three wins from five starts with a fluent performance in a Merit Rated Handicap over 1700m at Turffontein on a rainy Saturday at Turffontein. Sheikh Hamdan’s three-year-old by Flying Spur packed too much class for her opposition and put five lengths between herself and the runner-up.
Ataab gave jockey Anthony Delpech a double in the four races assigned to the first leg of the International Jockeys Challenge. He was delighted to have drawn a ride from Mike de Kock’s stable to complete the day with 79 points, securing the individual lead in the contest and a huge advantage for the South African team going into the second leg at Kenilworth on Sunday.
Ataab is on the upgrade, she won smartly.
Ataab was the stable’s only winner from 17 runners carded at the meeting and there were a number of suggestions on Tellytrack that this had turned into an altogether disappointing day for the yard, but assistant trainer Mathew de Kock disagreed and set the record straight.
Punters may be forgiven for expecting the sequence of winning doubles and trebles at recent meetings to continue forever, but it’s easy to forget that winning races is not about pushing buttons and Mathew commented: “ Ataab is a black-type filly, she will go on to better things and we expected a big run from her. We had a winner, four second places, three thirds and a fourth and on the whole there was only one real disappointing runner, One Fine Day. She disliked the track conditions and ran nowhere near her best.”
Mathew felt that Akii Bua was unlucky not to have won Race 4 over 1800m, in which the winner Enchanted Silk shifted out and drifted across the track. The race replay shows that Akii Bua is carried out for a run as he moves up to challenge Enchanted Silk and then forced to switch twice while Enchanted Silk runs, in the words of the race caller, “all over Turffontein racecourse.” All of this happened in the last 150m.
One has to take a balanced view of race objections, but in the interest of fairness the National Horseracing should consider retaining an optometrist so that racing enthusiasts can rest assured that there are no eye disorders or defects in vision among the Stipendiary Stewards in their employ.
Anthony Delpech was the leading jockey at Turffontein’s International Jockeys Challenge. He received a trophy from organiser Larry Wainstein (left) of the Racing Association, who will be thinking of ways to ensure the highest possible quality of runners for this event in years to come. If there are too many no-hopers in the final fields, too many jockeys draw embarrassingly poor rides and this will put the future of the Challenge at risk. One solution is to stage the challenge over four Graded features on a day, the best possible guarantee of competitive rides for both teams. This will undoubtedly revitalize interest and sponsor participation.