Picture: 123RF/LUKAS GOJDA
Picture: 123RF/LUKAS GOJDA

As he puts the finishing touches to Pack Leader’s assault on Saturday’s WSB Summer Cup at Turffontein, there is an air of sadness in the Randjesfontein stable of Alec Laird.

Peter White — a staunch supporter of racing for many years and who had a number of useful horses with Laird — has died after a short illness.

“We will miss Peter — he was straight as an arrow. We used to joke: ‘always right, Mr White’. He could badger you till you agreed with him,” said Laird. “He was a good friend to have on your side. He was a wonderful supporter of the yard and we are better off for having known him,” he said.

Laird considers Carbon Leader, Green Top, Lagadima and last week’s Vaal winner Marigold as among the best horses he trained for White.

“Carbon Leader was bred by Peter and won the KZN Mile, while Lagadima was a top division performer without winning a feature race,” said Laird.

Ridden by S’manga Khumalo who paid tribute to White after the filly’s win, Marigold has had the misfortune to be born in the same year as Summer Cup favourite Summer Pudding. Paul Peter’s star beat her by one length in the SA Fillies Classic in March.

Another trainer who did exceptionally well for White was Diane Stenger with Glenrossal, probably the pick of the good number of winners she saddled for the popular owner. The filly won four races including the Gauteng Fillies Guineas.

Two days after White’s death his three-year-old Royal Wulff was sent off favourite for a maiden race at Turffontein and the racecaller remarked it would be “fitting” if the colt won. He ran second.

White’s reaction would probably have been: “In racing you never count your chickens, there aren’t that many happy endings.”

With regard to Pack Leader’s chance in Saturday’s Summer Cup, Laird feels there are a number of factors in his favour. “First it’s a handicap, he’s well drawn and my jockey [S’manga Khumalo] is in red-hot form.”

In the Cup betting market, Summer Pudding has eased from 2-1 to 18-10 with Pack Leader now the firm second favourite at 4-1.

News that this season’s leading rider Lyle Hewitson will partner Cornish Pomodoro has resulted in the four-year-old shortening from 16-1 to 14-1. Many pundits feel the gelding has a lot to prove, but Sean Tarry has won the past three runnings of Joburg’s most popular race.

After his win on Malmoos at Kenilworth on Saturday, champion apprentice Luke Ferraris will be hoping for a big run from 2019’s victor Zillzaal. The son of Silvano — now 16-1 from 18-1 — ran superbly in the Charity Mile finishing under two lengths behind the winner Hudoo Magic.

Ferraris will also have to overcome a wide draw on Zillzall, but he can point to having a better barrier than Summer Pudding and stablemate Victoria Paige.

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