Mike Moon: Punters took a battering at Turffontein on Saturday, but the emergence of some top equine talent at the meeting eased the pain a bit with the balm of hope for better wagering days ahead.
Most favourites didn’t even make the placings on a day when payout sheets were awash with big numbers. The Pick 6 payout of R2,452,021 wasn’t won outright and R1.99-million was carried over.
A Place Accumulator dividend of R28,128 took the story to scarier places and a BiPot of R45,875 added further shivers. If, after all that, you won the Jackpot, you might be a trifle disappointed with just R9,945.
However, if you looked at the action from a purely equine sporting angle, there was much to get excited about.
The two juvenile features, in particular, threw up eye-catching performances from the winners – namely Bold Eagle in the Storm Bird Stakes and Dagmar in the companion-piece event, the Ruffian Stakes for fillies.
Bold Eagle looks a lot like his famous father, Durban July hero Bold Silvano, and is following in his hoofprints on the racecourse, too. This strapping colt easily overpowered a field of precocious juveniles to land the Listed 1000m sprint.
It was a second victory in two starts for Bold Eagle, who is trained on the Highveld by Chesney van Zyl for his KwaZulu-Natal-based father Gavin. He started at 8-1 and, given the ease of his triumph, one is left wondering why.
Champion jockey Anthony Delpech always had his mount up with the fast pace and when the time came to accelerate Bold Eagle lived up to his name and sprouted wings, as they say. Delpech had quite a job bringing him in to land in the pull-up.
Royal Italian (11-1), a maiden from the Sean Tarry yard, was second, 3.50 lengths back, with first-timer Heavenly Risk (11-1) third and Dewali (5-1) fourth. Favourite Van Halen (10-3) led for most of the race but faded out in the closing stages to finish in midfield. All the placed runners look to have decent careers ahead, but the winner might be something special.
Dagmar, from the Mike de Kock stable, was making her debut in the Ruffian Stakes. Under Muzi Yeni – who bagged a triple on the day – this daughter of Querari showed few signs of inexperience as she romped in by more than two lengths. Shadowing the leaders for most of the 1000m dash, Yeni gave her the push at just the right time and she powered away to win at odds of 15-1.
Urban Oasis (also 15-1) was gallant in defeat, while long-time leader River Rafting held on well for third place.
The race favourite Frankly, a daughter of the great Frankel, was never a danger. The original favourite, Miss Khalifa, was scratched at the start.
Another young horse to catch the eye was three-year-old filly Covered In Snow, who made it four wins on the trot in her fifth start to claim the Bauhinia Handicap, another Listed 1000m sprint, this time for fillies and mares.
Yeni was again the victorious pilot and he can seldom have had an easier job. He simply relaxed in the armchair as Diane Stenger’s charge dealt with the business at hand – demolishing what had looked like a competitive field.
Covered In Snow was one of only two favourites to meet expectations on the day, the other being Gimme Hope Johanna in Race 2 for De Kock and Delpech.