Silverpoint vindicates Azzie's faith in his ability

Silverpoint vindicates Azzie's faith in his ability

<p>JACK MILNER<br />
TRAINER Michael Azzie told the world during Under Starters Orders on Saturday morning he had been advised by jockey Anton Marcus to totally ignore the last run of Silverpoint when he faded to finish 4.50 lengths behind Bound By Honour in the Aquanaut Handicap over 2450m at Turffontein.&nbsp;The only problem facing punters was that Silverpoint had not won a race since beating Captain Corageous at Newmarket in November 2006 and had disappointed so many times.<br />
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Photo: Mike Azzie.</p>

<p>Azzie, however, always had faith that the former SA Derby winner and Vodacom Durban July runner-up still had a few wins left in him.</p>
<p>On Saturday Silverpoint dropped to 1800m on the inside track and clearly relished the soft underfoot conditions brought on by a mid-morning downpour over Turffontein, to win the Listed Drum Star Handicap.</p>
<p>A lot of credit also has to go to jockey Gavin Lerena as he timed his run to perfection to get the 8-1 shot into the lead at the right moment and then hold off the faster-finishing Catmandu by 0.75 lengths.<br />
Alec Laird&rsquo;s runner, Bound To Travel, was sent out the 2-1 favourite while there was money for both Freiburg and Catmandu, who started at 7-2 and 9-2 respectively. Malteme, stable companion to the favourite, set the pace from Freiburg, Bound To Travel and Likeithot with Silverpoint some six lengths back and Catmandu at the rear.</p>
<p>Shortly after the field came for home345 Johnny Geroudis sent Bound To Travel into the lead with Freiburg on his inside but Lerena quickly pulled Silverpoint out and he moved up down the centre. In a matter of strides he had the race won and with the favourite now floundering, it was left to Catmandu to chase Silverpoint home345. Likeithot stayed on for third as Bound To Travel dropped to fourth, 4.50 lengths behind the winner.</p>
<p>“I worked him on Thursday and he worked well,&rsquo;&rsquo; said Lerena. “It&rsquo;s nice when a horse does reproduce his work in a race. I stayed one off the fence and he picked well under me when I asked him for an effort.&rsquo;&rsquo; He also admitted that it suited his mount to have the sting out of the ground.</p>
<p>Charles Laird won the first two races on the card with a smart Australian-bred first-timer, Her Excellency, and Our Giant respectively.</p>
<p>Her Excellency opened at 8-10 but drifted out to 18-10 as money poured on to Mike de Kock&rsquo;s debutante, Zirconium. The two dominated the race but it was the Laird runner who took the honours with the half-sister to Magnetite a clear second.</p>
<p>Every run from Our Giant has vindicated Laird&rsquo;s decision to geld the son of Giant Causeway and he showed on Saturday he will be the one to beat in the upcoming Grade 1 Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m at Turffontein on 5 April.</p>
<p>Saturday&rsquo;s race looked to be a straight fight between Our Giant and Mentor but the battle never materialised as Mentor had nothing left as the field turned for home345 and he was quickly passed by Prince Asad and Pick Six as Anton Marcus momentarily could not get a clear passage.</p>
<p>But once the gap appeared Our Giant just took off and put 4.50 lengths between himself and Pick Six with Prince Asad another short head back in third and Mentor fading to run 9.50 lengths back.</p>
<p>Lerena may well come in for criticism over his ride of 1-3 favourite King&rsquo;s Gambit who was beaten 0.15 lengths by Herod The Great in Race 5, an Allowance Plate over 1800m. However, Ormond Ferraris&rsquo;s runner was not winning out of turn and based on his third to Cashel last time out where he had to ease 150m out, the 6-1 starting price was great value.</p>
<p>Lerena kept Kings Gambit, who finished a 1.75-length fifth to Imbongi in the Gauteng Guineas, at the back of a tightly bunched field in a slow run race and just failed to get to Herod The Great despite looking a winner with 150m to go.</p>
<p>With it now having been proved that the Guineas was run at a false pace, the form of that race should be treated with great caution and perhaps not too much store placed in the outcome.</p>
<p>Ferraris, who said his current string was his “worst in 30 years&rsquo;&rsquo; had plenty praise for the winner.</p>
<p>“There&rsquo;s not much of him but he is all heart,&rsquo;&rsquo; said the veteran trainer.</p>

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