JOCKEY Piere Strydom, who rode his milestone 5000th winner in last week’s Gr2 Selangor Cup on Act Of War and has enjoyed a rewarding week with congratulatory compliments flowing in from around the world, won his third Gr1 Sansui Summer Cup at Turffontein on Saturday with a terrific ride on the popular favourite Louis The King (18-10), trained by Geoff Woodruff.
The 48-year-old Strydom, now South Africa’s most prolific jockey of all time, won the Cup in 2002 on Woodruff’s Eventual and in 2004 on Tyson. He drove four-year-old Louis The King into the lead in the dying moments of the gruelling 2000m race after the colt looked to have too much to do under 59kg with only 100m to run.
Sansui Summer Cup 2014: A show of class and tremendous courage from Louis The King and his seasoned jockey Piere Strydom (right).
Strydom’s legendary timing and his all-round balance belies the power and authority with which he controls his mounts, but there was a noted extra measure of aggression in the way he encouraged Louis The King to throw all of his big heart into the last 50m of the race.
As game as they come, an almost defeated Louis The King visibly responded and drew on every ounce of his ability to reel in the free-running leader, Killua Castle. Louis The King’s stablemate, a 66-1 outsider competently handled by young Akash Aucharuz, was possibly seen as one that was safely in the bag for bettors who put their money down ‘live in-running’. They would have felt very unlucky as ‘Striker’ got his mount to overpower the gallant runner-up when the race was all but over.
Luck favours true champions, however, and Strydom returned to a warm welcome from Louis The King’s connections and the Summer Cup crowd. “I thought he wasn’t going to get there but he managed to give me more when I asked for a final big effort,” enthused Strydom.
Woodruff said: “This was very exciting and the most heartwarming thing for me is how popular Louis The King is here and how the fans enjoyed his win.”
Louis The King, South Africa’s only Triple Crown winner after the legendary Horse Chestnut, took his earnings for the Van der Vyfer family to R4,8-million, an incredible feat for a horse who failed to raise a bid when he entered the auction ring as a yearling.
Woodruff took breeder Phillip Kahan from The Alchemy Stud’s word that Louis The King was a “nice horse” and bought him unseen in the car park of a Durban casino soon after the colt left the sale unsold. Woodruff later sold him to Louis van der Vyver and the rest is fairytale history.
Louis The King is by Storm Cat’s well-performed son Black Minnaloushe, who stands at Maine Chance Farms. He was fifth on the 2013/14 Sires List and his best racing offspring will make him a Top 5 contender again this season.
Mike de Kock congratulated Woodruff and the connections of Louis The King. The stable didn’t have any winners on the day, but Mike often points to the highs and lows of the racing game and will already be looking forward to Majmu’s run in next week’s Gr1 Avontuur Estate Cape Fillies Guineas at Kenilworth.
Mike hasn’t reported back as yet, but there will be an explanation for Jayyed’s failing to make the frame in the Dingaans – he did note before the race that Jayyed was as problematic as he was talented and that he is one who ‘may have to go under the knife’ sooner than later.
Maria Theresa, fancied to play a role in the outcome of Fillies Mile but unable to do so finishing in midfield, showed that she needs more racing experience and more ground – she is one to watch over further as the season progresses. She holds an entry to the Gr3 Victress Stakes over 1800m at Kenilworth on 13 December.
Ataab (3rd in the Fillies Mile) and Kingston Mines (3rd in the Gr3 Racing Association Stayers Handicap), both gave of their best and Mike will be most encouraged by the game second of Pine Princess in the Gr2 Ipi Tombe Stakes over 1600m.
Pine Princess (and the other three-year-old fillies in the race) were several kg’s out at weight-for-age in this quality race and she got closest to the older filly and winner, Arcetri Pink, an accomplished Gr1-miler who took full advantage of the WFA conditions. Pine Princess was meritorious in defeat after being outpaced and having to rattle back courageously in the closing stages of the race.