Jockey Evert Pheiffer will be riding Comanche Brave in Saturday’s Grade 2 OK Gold Challenge over 1800m at Borrowdale Racecourse in Harare and he is confident of pulling off a prestigious double with the four-year-old son of Kahal.
Pheiffer picked up a chance ride on the Amy Bronkhorst-trained runner in the Grade 1 Castle Tankard over 2000m at the Zimbabwe course on 6 May.
“I was supposed to ride a horse for Penny Fisher but she decided not to run him. Sean Veale was down to ride Comanche Brave but he didn’t ride at the meeting. Because Amy and I have a good relationship and I had ridden the horse before and won on him, I asked her for the ride and she was happy to give it to me,” Pheiffer explained yesterday.
It turned out to be an excellent decision for both of them as Pheiffer took Comanche Brave to the front early on and kept him going to beat Royal Honour, formerly trained in Joburg by Paul Matchett, by 0.75 lengths.
“I asked the owners to please keep me on for the Grand Challenge and thankfully they agreed. Actually we had discussed earlier whether he should run in the Tankard as they felt he would not go 2000m but he is a long-striding horse and also has speed so I was confident he would see out the distance and told them so,” said Pheiffer.
Comanche Brave meets Royal Honour on 1kg better terms and on paper that should bring them close together. However, Pheiffer believes he has the measure of Bridget Stidolph’s charge.
“I think Royal Honour needs 2400m to show his best form and dropping 200m to 1800m won’t be in his favour. My mount actually stopped over the last 150m because he saw an advertising board that distracted him. He was cruising so I didn’t want to hit him but when that happened I had to give him a couple of smacks to get his mind back on the job.
“But I think if something moves up to me I think he will find another gear.”
The runners Pheiffer sees as his main dangers are Mathematician and Windigo, third and fourth respectively in the Tankard. “I think Windigo will improve over the shorter distance and Mathematician is 3.5kg better off for a 3.25-length defeat.
“I’ve got more weight this time but that does not really worry me too much. The most important thing is the break. I can sit anywhere with him as long as he’s galloping at the speed he want to go because I know he will finish.
“He can be a bit hot and sweats up badly but I know him now and can handle him.”
Tactically, Pheiffer does not want to give too much away and says he will take the race as it comes. “I think it will be tight and I will have to ride him to perfection. I can’t afford mistakes, and it’s all about strategising. I actually don’t know how good he really is because he’s won well both times I ridden him.”
The Tankard was Pheiffer’s first Grade 1 win. “I rode for five seasons in Qatar and won some Grade 2s and 3s. At Least I now have a Grade 1 win on my CV.”
Final field for the $40,000 OK Grand Challenge (Grade 2) over 1800m at Borrowdale Racecourse on Saturday.
1 – 13 MATHEMATICIAN (B H Stidolph) C Habib 60.0 – 100
2 – 11 ROAD TO DUBAI (K T Swanson) K Zechner 58.5 – 97
3 – 3 WINDIGO (K T Swanson) S Brown 56.5 – 93
4 – 14 ASHTON PARK (BP Fisher) R Munger 56.0 – 92
5 – 10 COMANCHE BRAVE (A L Bronkhorst) E Pheiffer 55.5 – 91
6 – 2 ROYAL HONOUR (B H Stidolph) J Penny 54.5 – 89
7 – 7 EURAKILON (A L Bronkhorst) J Greyling 54.0 – 88
8 – 1 SUPER GOOD (B H Stidolph) S Chambers 54.0 – 88
9 – 5 LIFE IS GOOD (A L Bronkhorst) M Thackeray 52.0 – 86
10 – 8 WYLDE STYLE (A L Bronkhorst) D Frank 52.0 – 86
11 – 4 FAH FEE (K T Swanson) M Nyamagwete 52.0 – 84
12 – 12 NEWTON POWER (A L Bronkhorst) K Derere 52.0 – 84
13 – 9 COOL SOLUTION (K T Swanson) J P v’d Merwe 52.0 – 77
14 – 6 ROMAN DISCENT (B H Stidolph) B McNaughton 52.0 – 74
Same Trainer: (1,6,8,14) (2,3,11,13) (5,7,9,10,12)