OH SUSANNA. Picture: Liesl King.
Ken Nicol: Impeccably bred three-year-old Street Cry filly Oh Susanna stole stable mate Snowdance and Usain Bolt’s thunder with a quite sensational victory in the Sun Met on Saturday.
Always travelling well just off the speed she surged past Legal Eagle about 100m out, and it was all over as a contest, although her backers would have been alarmed to see jockey Grant Van Niekerk saluting well before the line, allowing a low flying Last Winter to get within half a length at the death.
Legal Eagle had seemingly cruised into the lead 250 m out and briefly looked a winner, but became rather one paced late, and it must surely now be conceded that he is not at his very best over this trip.
The Met had eluded both Justin Snaith and his father Chris in decades of training, so it was an emotional moment, especially as rising star Van Niekerk was also scoring his first win in the great race.
Van Niekerk commented that ‘’it was a rough race, and she took time to unwind, but I knew I’d get there – I’ve got goosebumps’’.
Justin Snaith said: ‘’it hasn’t sunk in yet, but Usain Bolt is one of my all time heroes, so I’m really glad it came this year.’’.
To put her achievement into perspective, the last three-year-old filly to win the Met was Black Bess in 1905!
That capped another amazing day for the Snaith boys, as they won three of the four Grade 1 races on offer, and were runner up in the other.
An hour earlier boom filly Snowdance had kept punters happy as the ‘’people’s banker’’ scored an easy victory in the Grade 1 Majorca. Never far away from the action she asserted readily in the straight to easily see off stable companion Star Express and fellow youngster Rose In Bloom.
While Van Niekerk was being interviewed Usain Bolt’s helicopter landed, and he broke off to gleefully declare ‘’this one’s for you Usain my man’’.
Their opening Grade 1 win of the day was the Cape Flying Championship, but the race was marred by a false start caused by starting stall delinquent Tevez. This eventually led to all of joint favourite Naafer, Search Party and Olympian being taken out.
That left Sergeant Hardy as clear market leader, and he remained undefeated over 1000m with an impressive virtually pillar to post win under regular pilot Bernard Fayd’herbe. Trip To Heaven jumped on terms and was always within striking distance but that elusive Grade 1 win continues to elude him, and he scored a fourth runner up berth at this level.
This was a first Grade 1 winner for part owner Oscar Foulkes, and he has always had a soft spot for the ultra-game campaigner. He added tongue in cheek that he ‘’is now sorry that we gelded him’’.
Justin Snaith paid tribute to the ‘’gallant horse with a big heart, despite his well-documented breathing problems’’.
Eyes Wide Open scored his second Grade 1 win in an extremely false run Investec Cape Derby. PE raider Kimberley Star set a farcically slow pace followed by fellow long shot Steel Rose. When the latter moved into the lead halfway up the straight and still led well inside the final 200m a big upset looked on the cards.
Glen Kotzen’s Dynasty colt was always within striking distance though, and when Steel Rose finally started to wobble late on he drew clear to win by a length and three quarters.
Do It Again showed his Guineas flop was all wrong as he came from stone last to run on well for second, and would surely have challenged strongly given a more genuine gallop.
Owner Hugo Hattingh of Krigor Stud was understandably delighted, especially as his other runner Pack Leader had finished third. He paid tribute to trainer Glen Kotzen for ‘’a wonderful job, and Richie rode a pearler’’, referring to pilot Richard Fourie.
In a good omen Kotzen’s last Derby winner was Big City Life in 2009, and the colt went on to win the July later that year.