Mary Slack gets just reward for her support of highveld racing
As the person who launched the lifeboat to save highveld racing when it was in stormy seas, there was a sense of poetic justice that owner-breeder Mary Slack had one of her most memorable days at Turffontein on Saturday.
Slack’s familiar black and scarlet colours were carried to victory in both the grade 1 HSH Princess Charlene Empress Club Stakes by Desert Miracle and the WSB Spook Express Stakes by Red Maple.
“If it wasn’t for Mary and the family, none of us would be here today,” said Mike Wittstock, father of Benoni-born Princess Charlene of Monaco who has sponsored this prestigious 1,600m race for a number of years.
As pointed out in Friday’s column, punters were wary of backing Desert Miracle after her defeat last month and the daughter of Dynasty started at 3-1. Feather Boa was the subject of sustained support and was sent off favourite at 9-4.
However, Desert Miracle, brought with a well-timed challenge by Craig Zackey, followed in the hoofprints of Summer Pudding who won this race for the Oppenheimers in 2021.
While Feather Boa tried her best to register an overdue big race win, Stuart Pettigrew’s game filly went down by just over a length to earn her connections the second cheque of R250,000.
For Mary Slack and her daughter, Jessica Jell, the result provided a huge boost for their Wilgerbosdrift/Mauritzfontein operation as they bred the first three horses across the line. Third place went to Sean Tarry’s runner, Marigold Hotel.
The good effort of Feather Boa was further good news for Slack as her Wilgerbosdrift Stud will be offering her half-brother (by Querari) on the second day of the National Yearling Sale next Saturday.
Tarry’s decision to bypass the SA Oaks with Red Maple and go for the Spook Express Stakes proved a shrewd move. Young Philasande Mxoli — riding the daughter of Silvano for the first time — was always travelling sweetly but had to hold off a determined challenge from Ryan Munger on Kind Judy.
It was a top performance by the three-year-old against her elders and Tarry is likely to aim the filly at one of the feature races during the forthcoming KZN season.
If there was one disappointment for the Oppenheimer family, it would have been the failure of Royal Summons — a son of Kingman — to place on his debut in the first race. The colt is bred in the purple being out of Met winner, Smart Call, and his sire stands at a fee of £150,000 in the UK.
Victory in this juvenile plate went to Pure Predator whose sire, New Predator, is presented by 10 of his offspring at this week's National sale in Germiston.
Alec Laird, who trains Royal Summons, finished the meeting on a high when his lightly raced four-year-old, Lunar Ballade, proved too strong for the year-younger favourite, Sharapova, in the final leg of the Pick Six.
Punters got a good run for their money by following this column’s tips for the Grand National at Aintree on Saturday. Top choice Gaillard Du Mesnil finished third at 10-1 and second choice, Valliere, second at 20-1. The swinger for these two horses paid R38.
The winner of the race was Corach Rambler (8-1) trained by Lucinda Russell and ridden by Derek Fox.
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