CORAL FEVER wins Challenge
Mike Moon: Coral Fever, the “almost” horse of feature races in South Africa, finally cracked a big one in the R4-million Premier’s Champions Challenge at Turffontein on Saturday.
Brilliantly ridden by Muzi Yeni, the son of Judpot got his head in front of a dogged Abashiri to give trainer Robbie Sage a memorable double on the day. Earlier, the affable Randjesfontein conditioner had led William The Silent into the winner’s circle after victory in the SA Nursery.
Coral Fever started at odds of 7-1 – not a train smash, but the latest in a lengthy sequence of roughish results on the day.
Favourite and multiple Equus Horse of the Year Legal Eagle (2-1) was a major disappointment. Ridden by S’manga Khumalo in the absence of his usual partner Anton Marcus – who was injured at Friday night’s Greyville meeting – Legal Eagle tried to make all the running in the 2000m Grade 1 race.
Trainer Sean Tarry’s champion was tracked all the way by his great rival Nother Russia (7-2) under Craig Zackey for Mike de Kock.
But the pair might be adjudged to have cut each other’s throats, as they say in the parlance.
Nother Russia at least stayed well enough on to finish fourth, 5.25 lengths off the winner. But Legal Eagle compacted to be more than eight lengths back at the line.
Abashiri (11-1), who has struggled for another win after his Triple Crown heroics of a couple of years ago, came back to something like his best for Mike and Adam Azzie and was only 0.25 lengths adrift under Corne Orffer.
Third was the raiding Cape mare Silvan Star (10-1) for Glen Kotzen and Richard Fourie.