VAAL trainer Steve Moffatt’s three-year-old filly I Like It almost caused the upset of the year when she ran Ghaalla to a short-head in Saturday’s Gr3 Fillies Mile at Turffontein, starting at 66-1.
I like It and her sire Solskjaer (IRE) share quite a remarkable story.
Solksjaer himself was imported to South Africa for stud duties at Summerhill Stud in 2007 and his first few crops impressed most experts with their beautiful, flowing strides. There were many bread-and-butter runners among the early crops, but he didn’t quite make the grade and Mick Goss decided to retire him in 2013.
Moffatt picks up the story: “I trained a filly called Sols Gold for Albert Rapp, she was by Solksjaer from Golden National, a National Emblem mare who stood in the paddocks at Summerhill. Sols Gold was decent, she won us four races and Albert wanted the mare to go back to Solskjaer, but Mr Goss had retired him.
“After several phone calls and arm-twisting, Summerhill agreed to give Solskjaer what would be his last jump in South Africa. National Gold was covered and she produced I Like It, of whom Moffatt says: “She has plenty of ability and her second in the Gr3 came as no surprise to us. She won at the Vaal last Tuesday, I walked her on Wednesday and Thursday and just trotted her on Friday. She took her run really well, attacked her manger and was in mint condition so we left her in the Fillies Mile and wow, she came so close to winning. We were so excited!”
Moffatt will be aiming I Like It at the 2019 Triple Tiara, with the Fillies Guineas as her first aim and he says: “I think she will see out considerably further, so the Tiara races will be within her reach.” Moffatt trains 24 horses, of which 11 are owned by Rapp and several are two-year-olds. “We have a few very nice unraced horses, wo we’re looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Back to Solskjaer for Part 2 of this interesting tale. Soon after he was retired in 2015 he was placed on an auction where he received no bids, but Advocate Nigel Riley of Heversham Park Stud came to hear of him and secured him for only R5,000 after negotiating with Greg Muir, the former Stud Manager at Summerhill.
Riley tells: “Solskjaer is by Danehill from Lyndonville and he’s a half-brother to Yeats (Sadler’s Wells), who seven Gr1 races and at the time was picking up momentum as a sire of excellent jump horses. We made some enquiries and sent Solskjaer back to Ireland to stand a jump stallion at Coolagown Stud in County Cork.
“Being so closely related to Yeats, Solskjaer drew immediate attention and we were amazed at the support from breeders. He covered 80 mares a season in his first three seasons but we’ve scaled down a bit now, he’s had a busy time.
“Solskjaer’s first jump foals are two years old, they only start racing the jumpers at four and older so we won’t know how good they are for a while yet, but as a stallion he’s already done us proud!”
And so Solskjaer, a well-travelled guy, is enjoying a third career, something not many horses are privy to.
Photo: Steve Moffatt with I Like It.