It is not often other sports look at racing with envy, but that was the case at the weekend with the action in Paris as good as it gets in the "Sport of Kings".
Even the most ardent French fan watching the nation’s most important race — the Arc de Triomphe — had to be impressed as the best-known jockey on the planet, Frankie Dettori, won the R70m race on arguably the best horse in the world, Enable.
John Gosden’s filly has had an outstanding year and the only reason bookies offered even money about the three-year-old was the chance of her feeling the effects of a busy campaign.
In the end, those fears were unfounded, with Dettori bouncing his mount out from a favourable draw and pushing the button soon after entering the Chantilly straight.
The response was immediate with Enable putting the race to bed fully 300m out, holding the challenge of one of the French hopes, Cloth Of Stars.
"She’s a freak and John [Gosden] has done a great job — to keep her at 100% all year is fantastic," said Dettori, who won the Arc for the fifth time.
"Not bad for an old jock," was Gosden’s response and he hinted that Enable might stay in training in 2018, but was unlikely to go for the forthcoming Breeders Cup in the US.
On the local front, trainer Paul Peter enjoyed a magnificent meeting at the Vaal on Saturday capturing the R750,000 Grand Heritage with 16-1 chance Forest Fox. Not many pundits gave the gelding much chance, but he responded to Gavin Lerena’s driving to beat Port Elizabeth raider Classify and Starrett City. Lerena won 2016’s inaugural race on Irish Pride.
Prior to the main race, Peter’s filly, Pera Palace, proved too speedy for grade1 winner Brave Mary in the Sophomore 1,000. The winner started at 14-1 bringing more woe for punters at a meeting that produced a number of shocks.
Peter sends three runners to Tuesday’s meeting at the Vaal and can win the second race with Amajory, who was narrowly beaten in a Work Riders race in September.
Spice Queen won her last start for Peter at Turffontein but faces a tough task against some hardy opponents in the sixth race. Trainer St John Gray, who saddled two winners last Saturday, sends out Sammi Moosa and Curbstone Shuffle and the latter looks the pick judged on her recent second on the Turffontein inner track.
Jockey Muzi Yeni won the last race on the Vaal card on Saturday and might repeat the feat in Tuesday’s finale on Stanley Ferreira’s runner Wottahottie. The six-year-old has been placed in his past two outings and gets the vote to upset Gavin van Zyl’s Vicomte.
The booking of Piere Strydom for Timeofthevikings suggests that Grant Maroun fancies the chances of the son of Great Britain and the four-year-old must be included in permutation bets.
Only six runners will face the starter in the seventh race and — despite being off the course since May — Sean Tarry’s three-year-old Wonderous Climber will be tough to beat. This race should be a stepping stone to better things for the choicely bred Dynasty colt.