Picture: 123RF/CHRIS VAN LENNEP
Picture: 123RF/CHRIS VAN LENNEP

As Justin Snaith runners steamrollered the opposition in three graded races at Kenilworth last Saturday, it was one of the stable’s lesser-known inmates, Hoedspruit, who threw his hat in the ring for the WSB Met on January 29.

Named after a town in Limpopo, Hoedspruit was not expected to trouble the odds-on favourite Do It Again in the Glorious Goodwood Premier Trophy, but the four-year-old found a sustained finish in the hands of Richard Fourie.

Racing in the colours of Suzette Viljoen, it was a sixth career win for the son of July winner Legislate. Bookmakers slashed the gelding’s odds for the Met from 25-1 to 12-1.

Sent-off favourite for December’s Peninsula Handicap, Hoedspruit was well beaten by Firealley, but was weighted to turn the tables in Saturday’s grade 2 race.

Supporters of the hot favourite, Do It Again, the dual Durban July winner, looked on in shock as the seven-year-old threw out distress signals 400m from home. Despite Anton Marcus’s urgings, the gelding finished out of the money.

Do It Again was reported to have pulled up lame in his off fore leg after the race. In a postrace interview, Marcus said this might be a “valid explanation” for his poor run. “If they decide to persevere, let’s hope there’s something left in the locker.”

The interesting word here is “if”, because on this showing the horse has only a remote chance in the Met and retirement is a possibility.

It was a different story for stablemate Jet Dark, who joined a roll of honour including Jet Master, Pocket Power, Winter Solstice and Legal Eagle as consecutive winners of the grade 1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.

After a performance in the Green Point Stakes, which the Sporting Post described as “a relatively ordinary season opener”, it was no surprise that S’manga Khumalo’s mount started at 10-1. However, despite a slow start, the Gauteng-based jockey took the shortest route home and emerged the victor by two lengths.

The many fans of July victor Kommetdieding will be happy enough with the colt’s second placing and the son of Elusive Fort will be a lot more suited to the 2,000m of the Met. Rainbow Bridge — now the same age as Do It Again — finished third and remains on course to follow up his 2021 Met win.

Jet Dark, a son of Trippi, has never raced over the Met distance of 2,000m, but his odds for that race have been cut to 13-2. His win has earned an invitation to the Breeders Cup Mile at Keeneland in the US in November, but joint owner Nic Jonsson did not touch on the subject in his postrace interview.

Instead — to the surprise of many — Jonsson chose the moment to castigate “narrow-minded form studiers” for not selecting his horse to win. While Dark Jet needed his comeback run in the Green Point Stakes, the bare facts that form “studiers” would have considered is that the colt had finished behind all of Seeking The Stars, Linebacker and Rainbow Bridge. Hardly surprising that some form students were “doubters”.

TV viewers would have been more interested in whether the four-year-old would contest the Met and possibly take up the Breeders Cup invitation.

When it comes to tales about horses in racing, the one concerning owner Suzette Viljoen reads like a Hollywood movie script. A resident of North West, the female owner had another meeting on “Cloud Nine” on Saturday with Captain’s Ransom winning the Cartier Paddock Stakes.

Yes, bred at Moutonshoek Stud, he hails from the all-conquering Snaith camp which continues to churn out winners just like the Quality Street factory churns out chocolates.

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