JJ The Jet Plane bids farewell with smashing Mercury win

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JJ The Jet Plane bids farewell with smashing Mercury win

<p>NICCI GARNER<br />
JJ THE JET PLANE broke his rival&rsquo;s hearts yet again in yesterday&rsquo;s R500 000 Mercury Sprint at Clairwood. It was the gelding&rsquo;s final appearance on a South African racecourse and the race was immensely poignant for his many fans, who would have celebrated his Grade 1 hat trick as enthusiastically as any of JJ&rsquo;s flamboyant connections.</p>

<p>In spite of their sadness, they&rsquo;ll all be looking forward to watching JJ the Jet Plane fly at Sha Tin in December in the Hong Kong Sprint and continuing to test his mettle against the world&rsquo;s fastest thoroughbreds after that. JJ the Jet Plane, who has never been beaten in a sprint, moved into his new, temporary stable at Mike de Kock&rsquo;s Durban base last night and will be put into quarantine in a few days time.</p>
<p>Well in the red throughout the preliminaries, it was always a matter of who was going to get closest to JJ as the line approached, although Rat Burana and Extinct did have a few advocates.</p>
<p>Rat Burana had bounced back to top form in the SA Fillies Sprint over 1200m at Scottsville back in May when she won in faster time than JJ the Jet Plane on the same day, albeit under a lighter weight. She was outright second favourite and started at 4-1. Extinct had won four races running in weaker company and was backed to 7s from an opening call of 12-1.</p>
<p>However, 14-1 fourth favourite Rebel King, who looked a picture in the canter-by but was meeting JJ the Jet Plane on 3kg worse terms than when he finished third behind the favourite in the Golden Horse Casino Sprint at Scottsville, did best of the others in the chase to the line. He was four lengths adrift of JJ the Jet Plane when the camera shutters clicked with Senor Josh another 1.75 lengths further back in third. Rat Burana was a well-beaten fourth with Extinct never getting a blow in at the leaders in finishing 12th.</p>
<p>Jockey Piere Strydom had JJ the Jet Plane in the vanguard from shortly after the start, disputing the lead with Mentor and American Emblem. Rat Burana, Rebel King and Senor Josh were a length behind them with Extinct outpaced in midfield.</p>
<p>By halfway, it was clear that JJ the Jet Plane had them all stone cold and he won under a hands-and-heels ride, setting a course record in the process – he trimmed 0.21sec off the previous record, held by Catmandu.</p>
<p>The bay gelding has been a boon for his trainer and co-owner “Lucky&rsquo;&rsquo; Houdalakis, who paid just R70 000 for him as a yearling, as well as his other owners Hennie du Preez, Coenie Strydom and Thea Boyens. The Mercury success was his seventh career win from 10 starts and took his bankroll to more than R1.7 million.</p>
<p>While Houdalakis has much to look forward to as an owner, the gelding put him on the map as a young trainer and JJ&rsquo;s absence will be sorely felt in the yard tonight when the euphoria has worn off.</p>
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