Visiting Cape Town is good at the worst of times, and raiding successfully makes the experience sweeter, always, writes MIKE DE KOCK.
We got beaten into second in the G1 Guineas at Kenilworth on Saturday, a gallant effort by Silver Sanctuary. She was collared in the last two strides by Beach Bomb, a smart filly who also races for Gaynor Rupert and Drakenstein Stud. I’ve always thought of Silver Sanctuary as one who will be at her best beyond a mile and that she’s performed so well over 1600m at top level is a testimony to her class. She’s a Triple Tiara contender for 2024.
It would have been nice to have a Group win for father and son in South Africa and Australia – Mat and training partner Robbie Griffiths saddled two Group winners at Caulfield in Melbourne on Saturday – came close, but it wasn’t to be.
Our decision to raid with Aragosta proved to be spot -on. He came home full of fire to win the Cape Summer Stayers. He’s a good horse, for a number of reasons hadn’t won for quite some time after his SA Derby success, but he never lost his ability. Aragosta stayed on nicely in the Summer Cup when we knew he was just a run short, but that brought him to his peak and he showed us afterward that he enjoyed it and came out of it precisely where we wanted him.
A quick back-up is not something we like to do often, but in this case everything came together with Aragosta just bristling with energy after the Cup and a good race available for him. Well done to my partners Larry Nestadt, JJ van der Linden, Murray Makepeace and Noeline Malherbe; and to Richard Fourie for a good ride.
While he is on top of his game, we will be leaving Aragosta in the Cape for a possible tilt at the Chairmans Cup on Kings Plate Day and the Western Cape Stayers on Cape Met Day. Black Thorn has joined him with the same target, temporarily based at Brett Crawford’s stable in Phillipi.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Cape Racing for a most enjoyable day. Again, I have to give credit where it is due. The new-look Kenilworth is of international standard and compares with the best overseas venues I’ve been privileged to race at. I’d love to see what it all looks like when the project is fully completed. There are few more scenic racecourses in the world. Well done to the team of professionals at Cape Racing, what they have done is as impressive as it was made out to be, and the race-day service by their staff on duty was from the top drawer.
I started out with lunch in Gaynor Rupert’s Herbert Baker House – the customary elegant Rupert hospitality, before a walk around the grandstand and up to the new 1881 lounge to join some spirited old mates for a catch-up. Later, I caught up with some fellow trainers, racing fans and jockeys in a spirit if camaraderie, reminiscent of the old days.
In all, a lovely day and cheers all round. The Summer Cup at Turffontein and Guineas Day at Kenilworth gave me much encouragement for the future. There are passionate people at the helm of the sport and although we have opposing teams, the efforts by both sides are lifting us to higher levels.