HANG on, was Saturday Mother’s Day? No, that is three weeks away still, but will probably be celebrated with extra croissants and champagne by the connections of Nother Russia, who won Saturday’s Princess Charlene Empress Club Stakes over 1600m.
Nother Russia’s 1.4-length success came seven years after her mother, Mother Russia, took the prestigious Gr1 race in 2010. Jessica Slack of Mauritzfontein bought Nother Russia from her mother, Mary Slack, who owned Mother Russia and bred this superb three-year-old daughter whose looks and hard galloping action brings fond memories of her mother!
After the race Mike de Kock mentioned all that and of course the fact that he trained many winners in the familiar black-and-yellow silks for Mary’s mother, the late Bridget Oppenheimer – in all just summed up as an extended happy family affair and a big day at the races for all involved.
The happiest man on course, however, was jockey Craig Zackey, who’d been entrusted with riding Nother Russia since they laid eyes on each other way back in December 2015, when she was a naughty little Maiden who wanted things her own way and was destined to lose her way into early retirement.
They stuck with each other, however, and with the help of equine behaviour therapist Malan du Toit a few problems were sorted out. In March 2016 Craig and Nother Russia set out on a spree that has yielded five wins from seven starts, and she’s improved with every single run.
“Nother Russia is my world, she is very good. She showed today what she is capable of,” enthused Zackey in the post-race interview, adding, ‘Thanks to Jess for keeping me aboard!”
Mike said that, considering the way Nother Russia has improved with every run, and that she’d taken the step from Listed to Gr1 class with such ease, the stable will be considering running her in the President’s Champion Challenge.
“The 2000m won’t be a problem for her and there is a big stake to run for, but we’ll have to take on Sean Tarry’s champion (Legal Eagle), so we’ll see. We’ll discuss it with Jessica.”
The winning owner’s day started on a delightful note when first-timer Cascapedia, by High Chaparral, won her 1400m debut under Anthony Delpech.
Cascapedia was slow out of the pens and green around the bend, racing with her head up and proving a bit hard to settle. She made up a lot of ground in the straight, shifted to the extent that Delpech had to change his whip hand close home, but won decisively and looks to have plenty of scope.