Charity Mile: Laird gets one over on Louis (gallery)
Trainer Alec Laird was finally able to achieve something he was unable to do before – beat Louis the King.
Bezanova, perfectly ridden by Weichong Marwing, fought off a determined challenge by No Worries to win the R600,000 Emperors Palace Charity Mile at Turffontein on Saturday. In doing so he earned the top prize of R100,000 for the National Horse Trust.
Bezanova was the lesser fancied of trainer Alec Laird’s three runners and drifted to 18-1 from 8-1. Stablemate Bouclette Top was the more fancied of the trio – the third being As You Like – and went off as the 11-2 second favourite behind Sovereign Mint (5-1).
Bezanova showed a lot of courage to hold off No Worries (20-1), who had to overcome the widest draw in the 16-horse field, by a neck, with Louis The King (7-1) running on strongly from near last to finish third, just 0.75 lengths off the winner. Fourth place went to another Geoff Woodruff runner, Lockheed Jetstar.
There was drama at the start when Rake’s Chestnut stumbled badly, dislodging jockey Anton Marcus. Fortunately both jockey and horse were fine and Marcus was able to continue his riding arrangement for the day.
Tommy Gun attempted to repeat his run in the Emerald Cup and set quite a decent pace up front. Keagan de Melo managed to overcome his poor draw quickly and raced up wide to lie second just ahead of Jet Jamboree and Midnight Run. Marwing had Bezanova in touch with leaders with stablemate Bouclette Top just behind him while Piere Strydom had dropped Louis The King out from his draw and raced three from last.
Tommy Gun faded quickly from the scene which allowed No Worries to take the lead. But he was soon under pressure from Bezanova who managed to edge ahead. Down the outside Louis The King started to run on strongly and it even looked like he would sweep past them all.
No Worries fought back gamely, but Bezanova edged ahead in the closing stages to beat his rival by a neck with Louis The King only 0.50 lengths further back in third.
Laird was delighted with the victory although he admitted he had preferred the chances of Bouclette Top. “At this stage Bezanova has been entered into the Sansui Summer Cup. We’ll take a look at how he is weighted and make a decision later on as to whether we will run him or not,” said Laird.
In the SASCOC Triple Crown his runners could not penetrate the tenacity of Louis the King but finally Bezanova tipped the scales. “Unfortunately this is not a Grade 1 race but we’ll take it,” said Laird.
On a day when horses were not winning from off the pace, the fact Louis The King could make up the amount of ground he did was remarkable. Drawn wide, jockey Piere Strydom felt he faced an impossible task. “I’ll take third place,” said a delighted Strydom.
Woodruff said his charge had started to put in some good work during the week and most pundits including Mike de Kock, were proclaiming Louis The King as the horse to beat in the Summer Cup.
Rich Girl had to overcome a wide draw and was doubtful to see out 1400m in the R3.85-million Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup. All she had in her favour was that she was the best handicapped runner and she had Marcus in the irons. He wasted no time in taking the filly around the field and into the lead. He gave her a rest in the straight and then brought her back in to the lead and just held on to beat Dreamuponadream by a long head.
“I gave her absolutely no chance,” said Marcus, a similar sentiment express by trainer Charles Laird during the week. However, after the race Laird said: “It was a great team effort.”
Ironically Mick Goss of Summerhill Stud pointed out that the Ready To Run Cup was the richest race in Africa. “It works out the winner collects R50,000 per second,” he added.
Majmu found her best form to win the Grade 3 Starling Stakes over 1400m, proving her last defeat was all wrong. Anthony Delpech had her off the pace but once he switched her out, she ran on well to win going away, beating Siren’s Call by 1.25 lengths.
“She will be off to Cape Town for the Fillies Guineas next month,” confirmed De Kock.
The Grade 3 Graham Beck Stakes. Also over 1400m, went to Harry’s Son, ridden by Strydom, who confirmed the form with Jayyed despite being 4.5kg worse off. “I thought he had no chance of winning,” said Strydom. “But I didn’t take into account the amount of improvement and he has improved a lot since the Greyville run.”
The nomination fees for the two R250,000 maiden plates , which were contributed to by Princess Charlene of Monaco, which amounted to about R100,000 were donated to the Highveld Horse Care Unit.
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