Rainbow Bridge marked himself down as a top-class horse with a very impressive win from way off the pace in the Grade 3 Highlands Stud Winter Guineas at Kenilworth on Saturday.
He cruised in on his sprint d but three weeks ago, but was taking a huge leap in class here and was drawn one from the outside of the 11 starters.
Despite that, he found long-shot support from 16-1 into 8-1 and swooped spectacularly over the final 200m under a far from punishing Richard Fourie ride to win by a lengthening 1.25 lengths.
It has been a while since trainer Eric Sands had a horse of real quality in his yard. He commented afterwards: “It was a risk running him here, but he’s rising four and we had to take the chance. He’s a special horse.”
Rocket Countdown was second and Love Happens third, but they were made to look very ordinary by the withering finishing burst of the winner.
That completed a feature race double for Fourie, as half an hour earlier Too Phat To Fly underlined the strength of the Cape season’s Grade 1 fillies feature form by winning going away in the female equivalent race, the Listed Sweet Chestnut.
She was allowed to go o at 8-1 despite an impressive win in her warm up sprint and ran on fluently to score by 1.25 lengths over Rose In Bloom, who scored yet another Graded place. Favourite Platinum Class stayed on for third without ever looking dangerous.
Fourie said the winner “was caught three wide, but she was so relaxed, and quickened well when I asked her”.
Belinda Haytread made a welcome return to the winners’ en- closure aboard Love Of My Life in the the day’s workriders race.
She won several Cape Hunt events in the 1990s, but this was her first success in an official NHA race.
The rules on eligibility were changed recently, allowing the long-time Bass stable employee to compete.
Apprentice Sandile Mbhele continued his steady progress with another winner. Bottom weight Ahoy Me Matey just out-did lightly raced Call To Account in the FM 88 sprint a er a titanic duel.
The runner up was returning from almost a year off and looks one to follow.