There are race days when fireworks are expected and things go awry; there are others when races pan out more or less as envisaged and Saturday was one of them.
The stable brought nine runners to Turffontein expecting two winners and a few places and that’s what happened: Three-year-olds Champagne Cocktail and Zinovi scored handsomely, Silver Sanctuary was touched off at the line and both Simple Simple and Bonete (2nd and third respectively) showed their own well-being and promised success, around the corner.
Mary Slack’s good looker, Champagne Cocktail, raced clear to win a Class B MR89 Handicap over 1800m and Mike commented: “She’s impressive, a true professional. She has a massive stride and races with her ears pricked, puts her rivals under pressure. She’s the type of filly that can perform over any distance. Mary loves this family, well done to her.”
Mike said that the Fillies Mile on Summer Cup Day and the G1 Cape Fillies Guineas are his next considerations for Champagne Cocktail and that he was leaning toward the Guineas. “It’s a great race to win, and I’m hoping we’ll get a decent draw.” The 2024 Triple Tiara would be an obvious ultimate target, he added.
Jockey JP van der Merwe said that horses like Champagne Cocktail made it easy to get up for work in the morning. “She’s quality,” he noted.
Champagne Cocktail is by Silvano outr of Espumanti, a full-sister to Sparkling Water raised at Wilgerbosdrift.
Zinovi, not to be outdone, accelerated smartly to win a Progress Plate over 1450, putting 4.75-lengths between himself and the runner-up, following just a few taps on the neck at the 300m mark, by low-crouching Smanga Khumalo.
Khumalo commented: “He followed the leaders, they didn’t go a record speed. In the straight I allowed him to stride. In a proper-run race he’d be even better positioned.”
Mike said: “He has documented breathing issues, he sounded like a Harley Davidson today. The reason why we haven’t done the wind operation yet is because his form is good. They key, as I said to Smanga, is to leave him so he can settle into his own breathing rhythm. But we’ll have to do the operation at some stage.”
Mike said that Zinovi was well in, in the race, off his light weight. “He’s a horse with a tremendous amount of ability. He is by Heavenly Blue, who also had breathing issues. Well done to Warne Rippon and Arun Chadha, good men who do so much for the game and for charity, one can’t say enough about them.”
Zinovi was bred at Danika Stud.