TRAINER Stuart Pettigrew is annoyed that the Grand Heritage Match Race has been scheduled for the straight course over 1475m at the Vaal on Saturday, 8 December. Pettigrew has given notice that his runner Soldier On, winner of last week’s Grand Series Leg 1 at Turffontein may not participate in the race.
Pettigrew told Turf Talk on Sunday: “Soldier On and Tsitsikamma Dance both won their races at Turffontein around the bend over 1475m. Had they been straight races, we many have seen different horses winning.
“We are perfectly willing to race if we have the match race around the bend at the Vaal, or if we can stay at Turffontein, but not on the straight Vaal course. The match proposed will not be on the same terms as the original races that were contested, so how can it be called a proper match race?
“The Grand Heritage was planned for the Vaal and moved to Turffontein, now the match race is back at the Vaal. Soldier On’s owner Terry Kung and I have discussed the matter. We don’t believe this is fair and I don’t think we’ll race.”
Phumelela Racing Executive Clyde Basel said that he sincerely hoped that Pettigrew would change his mind so that the race can take place between Soldier On and Tsitsikamma Dance. He said: “If Soldier On is pulled out, Paul Matchett’s Dan The Lad will take his berth, but the idea is to have the winners face each other in a straight contest.
“There is absolutely no intention to displease Mr Pettigrew and Mr Kung and we recognise the merits of their argument, but the original Grand Heritage was planned for the Vaal, on a straight course over 1475m, and with the sponsor’s full support. The first two editions were successfully staged there and we’d like to keep the race attached to the Vaal. As we know the race was only split and moved because we were forced to move it, it was an act of God, the track at the Vaal just wasn’t in good racing condition.
“We don’t want to back-pedal now, we want to return the Vaal for a good holiday atmosphere in the country which should attract a good crowd for the sponsors, a lovely day out in line with the Heritage races we’ve already enjoyed here. And we’ve secured a winner-take-all prize of R250,000. We’d really like Soldier On to take his place!”