Picture : The handsome Master Of My Fate gelding Atticus Finch is Summer Cup bound. He was well named by Varsfontein Stud. The poem Invictus, from which the phrase Master Of My Fate comes, was an inspiration to Nelson Mandela while in prison and the fictional character Atticus Finch was also a champion of human rights as the defense lawyer in the famous novel “To Kill A Mockingbird.”
Alec Laird has a handful of nice horses at present and he has set them some big race targets.
Billy Bowlegs, who was a hard knocker in the Autumn’s big three-year-old races last season, qualified for the Hollywoodbets Durban July and wasn’t disgraced in eleventh place, beaten 7,10 lengths.
However, Alec was disappointed with the run and said, “He seems to be a better horse at Turffontein, but also the July became an add on target for him. I tried to make a plan to get him there in good shape after an extended season in Johannesburg, but it was not a proper preparation for the July.”
The The United States colt came into the July off a 63 day layoff.
Alec added, “He is in good shape now. He will go for the Summer Cup via the Victory Moon.”
Alec is targeting the Gauteng Summer Cup for two other horses too, Atticus Finch and Star Coin.
Atticus Finch has always struck as classy.
He returned “sore” after a disappointing run in the Gr 2 WSB Gauteng Guineas.
Alec decided to rest him and it has paid dividends because he has come back after a five month layoff to record two eyecatching handicaps wins, both over 1600m, off merit ratings of 92 and 96 respectively.
Alec is eyeing the Gr 2 Allied-Steelrode Onamission Charity Mile as Atticus Finch’s spring board into the Summer Cup.
The progressive Master Of My Fate gelding was raised to 101 after his last win.
Gold Standard gelding Star Coin was last seen finishing a decent 4,25 length sixth in the Gr 1 WSB SA Classic over 1800m, beaten just 2,50 lengths by third-placed stablemate Billy Bowlegs.
He has won three times in eight starts and copped an eleven point raise for his SA Classic run to go to 109.
Alec will run him in the Gr 3 Victory Moon over 1800m, which takes place three weeks (20 days) before the Summer Cup.
The probable most expensive horse in his yard is Royal Guide.
He is well bred being by champion stallion Gimmethegreenlight out of Al Mufti Gr 1 Thekwini winner Royal Fantasy, who has produced two black type winners.
Jehan Malherbe’s Form Bloodstock purchased him for R1,4 million at the BSA National Yearling Sale and it is not surprising that one of the colt’s owners is Mauritzfontein Stud because he is from the family of their Wilgerbosdrift Triple Tiara heroines Summer Pudding and Cherry On The Top.
However, he only made his debut as a four-year-old in April this year, so off a current 90 merit rating has a bit to do to get into any big races.
He has won three of his six starts and his only defeat since winning his maiden has been to the smart R7 million horse Celestial City.
Alec felt he had excuses that race though and he proved it by winning his next too starts over 1700m at the Vaal and 1600m at Hollywoodbets Scottsville in dominant style.
Alec will be trying to qualify him for the Charity Mile.
He has a promising three-year-old in the yard in William Iron Arm.
This rangy and progressive son of William Longsword was stepped up to 1600m in just his second start as a two-year-old and duly won.
He followed up by easily beating older horses in a handicap over 1700m off an 88 merit rating.
The form of that last win has worked out quite well and he looks to be a middle distance to staying type with a bright future.
He is merit rated 94 and Alec said, “I might possibly run him in the Dingaans, but next year’s SA Classic and SA Derby are his main targets.”
It will be good to see the Laird name in the limelight again, especially as Alec is the only active trainer remaining of this famous 16-times July-winning racing dynasty.