THE Gr1 Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks (R1-million) over 2450m at Turffontein on Saturday produced one of the most thrilling finishes of the season. Pine Princess, from Mike de Kock’s yard, showed depths of courage and endurance after being passed by the favourite Siren’s Call to rally and snatch victory in the last stride.
Pine Princess (yellow, black silks), landed the decisive punch after a stunning trade of blows with Siren’s Call.
It was desperately close. So close that the race caller, in the breathless closing stages, declared a new Triple Tiara winner. It was not to be. Gutsy filly Siren’s Call lost by a whisker – and the R1-million Triple Tiara bonus cheque was not be drawn in favour of owner Peter de Beyer.
It seemed cruel that the popular incipient champ from Sean Tarry’s stable was denied – she had to be reshod at the start and as Mike suggested may unnecessarily have wasted energy before the race started, but it was just what the doctor ordered in terms of dramatic action for an appreciative crowd gathered at Turffontein for Champions Day.
Siren’s Call (12-10 favourite)became agitated as the farrier replaced the alumite, then – as usual – loped along near the rear of the field for most of the gruelling 2450m trip. However, with familiar gumption she stirred herself, responding to Piere Strydom’s urgings, as they swept into the straight. Siren’s Call still had 12 lengths to make up on the front-running The Centenary (25-1).
Delpech had Pine Princess (28-10) switched off in the middle of the field and quickly moved to the head of affairs at the 500m mark. She appeared to have enough of a start on Siren’s Call to have it in the bag.
But, by the 200m pole, Siren’s Call had flown up and seized the lead, looking all over the winner. Suddenly she lugged inwards, towards Pine Princess, and her stride slackened. Delpech swiftly changed his whip from his right to his left hand to prevent the pair from colliding and Pine Princess needed no second invitation. Straightened and grinding on, Pine Princess nosed in front on the line.
Anthony Delpech: A great display of riding on Champions Day.
“She loves a fight and she dug in deep to win,” Delpech said about his courageous mount, who had been beaten for acceleration in Graded features over a mile and 1800m a few times but had always given the impression that she had the class to bag a big one over further.
“This was always going to be the right race for Pine Princess, she’s often been beaten for speed but she got her chance today and she took it in really gutsy fashion. When Weichong Marwing unsaddled her after she’d finished fourth in the Paddock Stakes he said, ‘This filly will win the Oaks.’ Those were his exact words. She has a nice pedigree, a female line full of stamina.”
Highlands-bred Pine Princess, by Captain Al from Scent Of Pine (Badger Land), was a R400,000 purchase from the 2013 Cape Premier Yearling Sale, knocked down to Dr Andreas an d Mrs Natalie Jacobs of Maine Chance Farms, who races her in partnership with Mrs John Magnier and Mrs Paul Shanahan of Ireland’s Coolmore Stud.
“I am very pleased for the Magniers and the Shanahans for getting a return on their investments in South African racing. It is much needed and much appreciated. They value our industry and that is why they participate. Thanks also to Dr and Mrs Jacobs. Pine Princess will make a good broodmare,” Mike commented.
“Pine Princess was the first filly I selected for Maine Chance,” said their proud Racing Manager, Justin Vermaak.
-Extracts taken from tabonline.co.za and edited to suit.