Atticus Finch wins the Victory Moon in eyecatching style (JC Photos)
The Alec Laird-trained Varsfontein Stud-bred Master Of My Fate gelding Atticus Finch won the Gr 3 Betway Victory Moon Stakes over 1800m in fine style on Saturday at Turffontein Standside and in the process opened up an interesting Betway Summer Cup formline that might highlight two or three horses as fair value in Johannesburg’s biggest race.
On a line through Victory Moon runner up Electric Gold, Atticus Finch will need to show a few lengths improvement to beat Puerto Manzano in the Summer Cup.
Electric Gold was 8kg better off then weight for age with Puerto Manzano when beaten 1,75 lengths in the Jubilee Stakes over 1800m last June.
Atticus Finch beat Electric Gold by 1,25 lengths at level weights on Saturday and as things stand will likely only be 5,5kg better off than weight for age with Puerto Manzano in the Summer Cup.
That means on paper he needs to find an extra three lengths to match Puerto Manzano.
By the manner of victory on Saturday he could do that.
His sire Master Of My Fate by Jet Master brings him enough stamina to enjoy 2000m.
His damsire is Caesour who sired the like of Irridescance, winner of the Gr 1 QE II Cup in Hong Kong over 2000m, as well as Regal Ransom, winner of the Gr 1 Champions Challenge over the Summer Cup course and distance.
Atticus Finch’s dam Alexia was an unplaced maiden but she is very well related being the dam of Main Defender’s dam Alessia (Judpot) as well as being a full sister to two stakes winners and a half-sister to two others.
Atticus Finch is currently the 13/2 second favourite with the sponsor for the Summer Cup.
However, his formline exposes a horse or two who look too long in the Summer Cup betting
The Nathan Kotzen-trained Royal Victory is a 67/1 shot with Hollywoodbets for the Summer Cup, for which he was supplemented.
This Pathfork gelding finished a three length fifth in the Gr 1 WSB SA Classic last season, beating Electric Gold at level weights by 4,25 lengths. On the previously discussed formline that puts him in with a big chance if he gets into the field carrying 54kg off his current 111 merit rating.
Billy Bowlegs was third in the SA Classic, 1,25 lengths ahead of Royal Victory, and on Saturday he gave the winner and the runner up 6kg and was beaten just 1,50 lengths.
In the Summer Cup he will carry 55,5kg as things stand, which is just 1,5kg more than the likely weight for Atticus Finch, so on paper his Summer Cup price with the sponsor of 15/1 is thus too long. On paper he should beat Atticus Finch by three lengths on the form of Saturday’s race.
On the other hand Atticus Finch did look to have a bit in hand at the line.
On Saturday a flood of money for Atticus Finch saw him shortening into even money for the Victory Moon, a traditional pointer to the Summer Cup.
Calvin Habib boldly took the four-year-old Varfontein Stud-bred gelding to the front from draw eight.
The impressive part about him getting there by the first turn was he still had his ears pricked and was clearly relaxed as he used his big action to lope along.
In the straight Habib let out some rein and the horse’s ears remained pricked as he stretched out down the centre.
He was challenged on the outside by a number of horses, including his old stablemate Billy Bowlegs, and by Electric Gold on his inside.
However, Atticus Finch found extra when given a backhander and then found another gear when changing legs at the 200m mark.
His demeanour was never of a horse who was under great pressure, but rather of one who was more than willing to do what was being asked of him.
It was his fourth win in succession following a five month layoff and he has never won by far, winning by 1,25 lengths 1,80 lengths and 2,25 lengths over 1600m, before seeming to relish the step up in trip to 1800m on Saturday.
On the downside he did only have to carry 52kg under the conditions of the race and will have to carry at least 54kg in the Summer Cup as that is the new bottom weight under the current conditions.
However, he looks to be progressive and also looks to have the perfect racing temperament i.e. a relaxed way of racing and a lot of courage.