The New Year wish for many Cape racing fans will be the lifting of lockdown regulations so they can see superstar filly Summer Pudding in action in the Sun Met at Kenilworth on January 30.
Right now — with Covid-19 cases rising in the Cape — that could be wishful thinking, but the performance of Paul Peter’s filly in Saturday's WSB Summer Cup at Turffontein left no doubt the sport has a racehorse worth going a long way to see.
Many pundits — this column included — believed the combination of giving weight to some proven performers and a wide draw presented the four-year-old with a formidable task. She proceeded to romp home by four lengths from another member of the female sex, Running Brave, with long-shot Tree Tumbo in third.
What the tipsters had not expected was “no shows” by three heavily backed horses — Pack Leader, Charles and Cornish Pomodoro. The closest any of this trio got was Pack Leader, who trailed home in 11th place about 13 lengths behind the winner.
Considering his good recent form, trainer Alec Laird and jockey S’manga Khumalo must have been bitterly disappointed with the six-year-old’s performance.
The same can be said of Charles, with the Mike de Kock inmate advertising his chance with an excellent second in the Charity Mile. The five-year-old’s many followers must have wondered what was amiss with Callan Murray’s dark blue colours at the rear of the field — and that, sadly, is where he stayed.
In the official “run-on” giving the exact finishing position of every runner, all of Charles, Tristful (who was a fancied long-shot with a good draw) and Riverstown were reported to have been beaten a “distance”. One wonders whether this is the end of the road for Charles.
As he returned to the No 1 box grinning from ear-to-ear, champion jockey Warren Kennedy said of Summer Pudding: “She’s one of the best I’m ever likely to ride in my life.”
Kennedy never put a foot wrong on the daughter of Silvano, but he knows it is trainer Peter who deserves the laurels in the manner he has managed the career of the Mauritzfontein-owned filly. Happily, Steve Jell was on course to see the four-year-old maintain her unbeaten record.
Peter has said that Summer Pudding will now join the Cape stable of Eric Sands, so she will be a stablemate of Rainbow Bridge whose career earnings stand at R6.3m and presumably also has the Met as his objective. The six-year-old is a gelding, so there will be no “hanky-panky”.
Most pundits felt Running Brave’s 40-1 price was about right, but they had not considered the Muzi Yeni factor. The 33-year-old rises to the occasion time and again and also finished runner-up in the 2020 Vodacom Durban July.
Yeni and trainer Paul Matchett went on to make it a memorable meeting when the favourite, War Of Athena, made full use of her light mass to win the grade 2 Ipi Tombe Challenge.
Between them, trainers De Kock and Sean Tarry have won 14 Summer Cups, so it was a shock that both should have such a bad day. Tarry’s four-year-old Cornish Pomodoro was believed to be the stable elect with Lyle Hewitson in the saddle, but the gelding was never a factor and trailed in 17 lengths behind the winner.
Former Kimberley trainer Zietsman Oosthuizen had told the media not to write off his runner Atyaab, and this former inmate of the De Kock yard finished a creditable sixth in the hands of Luyolo Mxothwa.
If punters felt they had a safe Pick Six banker in Mount Pleasant in the Dingaans, they were in for a rude awakening with the favourite sending out distress signals early in the straight and finishing in seventh place, about 10 lengths behind shock winner Catch TwentyTwo.
Considering Mount Pleasant had beaten a top horse in Cirillo last time out, the colt’s poor performance will have resulted in pundits wanting to tear up the form book.
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