I called him the king and he’s still the king.
That was trainer Frank Robinson talking about Ormond Ferraris after Romany Prince won the KZN Breeders Million Mile (Non-Black Type) over 1600m at Greyville on Saturday. In a hard-fought drive to the line the five-year-old got up on the post to beat long-time leader London Call by a short head with Unagi another two lengths back in third.
Romany Prince delivered R625,000 to his owners and paid R4.90 a win and fortunately for those who may have included the scratched Matador Man in their exotics, he went off as TAB favourite.
Ferraris was not in Durban for the race but KZN-based trainer Frank Robinson looked after the horse who only arrived in on Friday evening. “He looked fantastic,” said Robinson.
Warren Kennedy, rode the winner, said Robinson approached him and asked if he “wanted to ride the Breeders Million Mile winner”.
Nobody was going to turn down an offer like that but nobody told Kennedy the most important piece of information about Romany Prince until the race was over. “They guys told me he has a bit of a short run-in but they waited until after the race to tell me this.”
Romany Prince was well drawn in stall No 4 but did not break all that well. “Thank goodness the guys were vying for position so I could quickly make up the ground I lost and get to the fence. He did that readily,” explained Kennedy.
“In a race like this if you miss the start by half a length you can end up at the back of the field in the blink of an eye. Once I got him in the right spot he was just gliding, waiting for me to ask him to run.”
London Call, a specialist over 1200m, went off to set a decent pace and held a lead of some two lengths over Subtropical with Unagi in third and Romany Prince in fourth, about three lengths off the leader.
There was little change as the field turned for home with London Call holding on to his big lead with Subtropical and Unagi not really making any impression on him. But then Kennedy pressed the button on Romany Prince and he kicked into top gear.
“He actually moved up to London Call quite readily but then took a while to actually go past him.” That is the point when Kennedy would have liked to have known about his mount’s “short run-in”.
“But he fought down to the line. It was a very gutsy win.”
Brandon Lerena rode London Call and considering this was his first start over 1600m, it was a magnificent effort. What was also interesting was the first four into the straight were also the first four past the post.
Earlier at the meeting, trainer Sean Tarry and apprentice Lyle Hewitson maintained their outstanding recent form as a partnership.
After making a winning statement in the Race 1 with Sweet Mary Lou, who paid R4 a for a win, the team were back in the winners’ circle with Changing Seasons in one of the day’s feature races, the KZN Breeders’ Non-Black-Type 1600m. That paid R3.50 for a win.
Tarry secured a three-timer as Kahula won Race 8, the Piemonte Stud KZN Breeders 1600 for fillies and mares, ridden by S’manga Khumalo.
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