IT happens that different aspects of a race or a specific horse strikes one anew, sometimes, and in watching the finish of Friday night’s Gr2 Drill Hall Stakes over 1400m it appeared as if the winner Undercover Agent had filled out and grown since he was last seen on the track on Sun Met Day in January.

Trainer Brett Crawford said: “No, he’s always been like that, strong and powerful. He’s maturing now, he is better than he was as a young horse but he hasn’t put on any marked condition in recent months.”

It was probably just the way the finish of the race unfolded and to Tellytrack watchers Undercover Agent appeared to intimidate the hard-trying Cirillo by bulk and size alone, fighting back powerfully after being headed to claim the honours late.

Crawford and jockey Corne Orffer paid tribute to assistant trainer Peter Muscutt, who has prepared the stable’s KZN raiders over the last two months and has them looking outstanding, much like last year when the stable enjoyed a hot run in Durban.

“Undercover Agent is a good horse and he won a good race. I think it’s going to be a good season for us,” said Orffer, who did everything exactly right, riding a well-timed finish and staying a neck ahead of a low-flying Rainbow Bridge, who became a bit flat-footed halfway down the straight but kicked into gear late and would probably have won if the post was another two strides away.

“Undercover Agent had everything in his favour tonight, including a plum draw and he had a very good prep coming into the race,” Crawford said. He noted later that Undercover Agent will be aimed at the obvious seasonal targets, the Gr1 Rising Sun over 1600m and the Champions Cup over 1800m.

Undercover Agent is by Captain Al from Secret Risk, by London News. He has a record of seven wins and six places from 16 starts and has banked R5,7-million for owners Braam van Huyssteen and Greg Bortz. He was raised at Moutonshoek.

Photo: Candiese Marnewick.

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