GRANT VAN NIEKERK
Bishop’s Bounty caused a massive upset in the Grade 2 Khaya Stables Diadem Stakes at Kenilworth on Saturday, starting at 45-1 and scooting to a comfortable victory over a field of top-rated sprinters.
Bishop’s Bounty had served up disappointing form in his previous two outings, after winning a feature sprint at Greyville on Durban July day – his fourth victory in 13 runs; a record that spoke of plenty of talent.
After that triumph, his trainer, Justin Snaith, gave him a four-month break, during which he underwent the unkindest cut. His return to racing gave no indication that he might doddle this R400,000 race – the principal trial for the Cape Flying Championship on Sun Met day at the end of the month.
But doddle it he did under jockey Grant van Niekerk, who positioned the four-year-old son of Western Winter off the early pace from the No 11 gate. The team flying the Michael Leaf silks flashed past the leaders at the 100m mark to won going away.
Sergeant Hardy (7-1), a stablemate from the Snaith yard, had set a hot pace from the 1200m start, with Rock Of Africa (55-1), Mujaafy (15-2), Wonderwall (20-1) and Brutal Force trying to keep up.
Trip To Heaven (7-2 second favourite), who has a history of slow starts, got away on terms this time and his supporters will have had a few seconds of surging hope, but Sean Tarry’s speedster didn’t really threaten and finished in fifth place. He might have needed this run and could strip fitter for the Flying.
The favourite at the off was Candice Bass-Robinson’s charge Dutch Philip at 3-1, but he never got into the mix and ended up in midfield some six lengths behind the winner.
Bishop’s Bounty completed a quick double for Snaith and Van Niekerk following Sir Frenchie’s narrow win in the second feature on the card, the Fairview Wines Sophomore Sprint (Listed), a 1200m contest for three-year-olds.
Sir Frenchie disrupted a potential four-timer by the Brett Crawford stable, pipping that operation’s spirited Bold Respect at the post.
Crawford had sent out Pacific Trader, Greenstreettractor and Love Dove to win Races 2 to 4.
In the Sophomore, Bold Respect (2-1 second favourite) was away like a flash from the 1200m start, with Woljayrine (15-1), Al Mariachi (8-1) and Sand And Sea (18-10 favourite) also speedy.
Passing the 700m pole, Bold Respect was still barrelling along, with Woljayrine keeping him company and Sand And Sea handy and poised to strike. Sir Frenchie (20-1) was well in touch in the chasing pack.
Master jockey Anton Marcus asked the favourite for his effort with 400m to go but the Twice Over colt didn’t respond as expected. In the prelims, trainer Dennis Drier hinted that Sand And Sea might have needed a run to bring him to a peak and that was the way it looked as the strapping colt laboured into fourth place.
Meanwhile, Bold Respect just kept going up front with jockey Corne Orffer bidding for pillar-to-post glory.
However, Van Niekerk had Sir Frenchie stealing up the inside rail and in the shadow of the post the duo snatched victory from the game Bold Respect. Woljayrine rallied in the closing stages to claim third place.