MR Flood made it three from five with a cracking win in an Assessment Plate over 1200m at the Vaal on Tuesday, clocking 67,48s in the hands of Karl Zechner, and defeating a competitive field with a commanding stamp.
Houdalakis, who has trained a sprinting superstar in JJ The Jet Plane, already knows that he has a talent on his hands in this well-built son of Pathfork and while absolutely no comparisons can be drawn at this early stage, he will be mapping out Mr Flood’s career with similar care.
The Vaal trainer said: “We were looking at last Saturday’s Golden Loom Handicap, but he would have been 12kg out at the weights so owner Keith Waterston and I went for this Assessment Plate instead. We’ll have to pick his races carefully. The Johannesburg Merchants is a next option, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves and start travelling just yet.”
Houdalakis ‘pinched’ Mr Flood from the BSA Mistico Sale last year and recalled: “I flew down, looked at the catalogue and I earmarked just two horses, Mr Flood was one of them, he was a strong-boned yearling, Lot 9.
“I was waylaid that morning, I had to rush and missed the start of the sale, arriving when Lot 13 was being sold. I was the hell in with myself and I wandered out of the sales ring, where I asked someone what Lot 9 went for. I was told he hadn’t been sold!
“So the spring came back in my step and I went looking for breeder Willempie Engelbrecht. I saw him… over there… he stood smoking his pipe and I walked over and we started haggling over a price for Mr Flood. ‘I want 100k’ said Willempie. ‘No, I have 50 for you,’ I said. ‘Give me 60,’ he replied. ‘No, take 50!’ I said.
“Next thing I took the pipe out of his right hand, put it in his left hand and shook the right firmly. ‘Ok, ok, vat hom, vat die perd!’ exclaimed Willempie, and I took the sales slip from his pocket. He signed it.”
Mr Flood has already banked over R200,000 and this is surely only the start of a bright career. Houdalakis said: “He won first time out when he wasn’t fully wound up and then, in the Nursery, he didn’t deliver. He was haemoconcentrating at the time and we decided to geld him and put him away.
“He ran a fair comeback race against older horses when Prince Of Kahal won, but Karl Zechner was fighting him all the way and I had a word with him about that. I told him not to restrain the horse, to let him run.”
Mr Flood galloped sensibly for Zechner on Tuesday. He raced at a brisk, steady gallop and didn’t tug. He ran them off their feet and he will do so a few times more!
Mr Flood’s sire Pathfork (Distorted Humor) was moved from Highlands to James Armitage’s Sandown Stud in June and has enjoyed some support at his new home.
Armitage reported: “Pathfork arrived here in June and he’s covered over 30 mares, he could get to 50. He’s a lovely horse with a big personality and he’s very
fertile. At R10,000 he’s an excellent bread-and-butter stallion and he fills a gap in the market. He’s like Qui Danzig, he can throw you a really good horse at a value price.”