ARGUABLY the most impressive aspect of Belgarion’s win in Saturday’s Gr2 WSB Greyville 1900 was the way he quickened off a sedate early pace to put daylight between himself, runner-up Tristful, third-placed Camphoratus and the rest of the field.
This was, however, an outstanding all-round performance by the gelded four-year-old son of Dynasty who, as jockey Anton Marcus pointed out, “never had the easiest of runs, despite drawing the number one marble”.
Belgarion was expected to stay near the rail for his home run, but found himself cramped for galloping room there, and on his immediate inside. Marcus had to switch him some way out to the middle of the track, a move that cost him perhaps two lengths whilst re-gathering his momentum. Once in the clear, he ran up to his rivals powerfully, then put them to sleep.
“I envisaged a slow pace and that is what happened,” said Marcus. “But I was on the best horse. It helps when you have the machinery between your legs. This was very impressive. I had my reservations when I worked him on the sand, but Richard Fourie gave me peace of mind not to worry about it. He gave me a totally different feel (on turf), and he is way under the radar.”
With that, Marcus probably meant that Belgarion has several more lengths in the tank and will be even better when Vodacom Durban July day comes around on 25 July, and trainer Justin Snaith appeared to have been well pleased that his plans for the gelding is 100 percent on target.
“This was a look-see to show the public that Belgarion is on the game. We’ll now put him away until the big day,” said Snaith, who explained that plans for Belgarion were mapped out at this time last year. “We gelded him and put him away for six months. He came back and won the Listed Settlers Trophy over 2000m.
“I recommended to the owners that we keep him out the Sun Met, in which he would probably have finished fifth or sixth and gotten a penalty. (After winning the Peninsula) we put him away again and now we can bring him into the July with a chance off a certain weight.”
Belgarion is expected to be allocated 53kg, which would put him in the weight bracket of several previous, lesser talented winners – and a number of bookmakers suspended the ante-post betting late this afternoon to adjust their odds now that Snaith’s ace has shown in no uncertain terms that he has what it takes to win SA’s flagship thoroughbred contest.
Bred by Alec Foster and racing in the silks of Foster and wife Gillian, Belgarion is by 2003 winner Dynasty, whose son Legislate won the 2014 renewal of the Durban July, out of the German mare Riva (Acatenango). He’s won six from eight, with stake earnings of R616,000.
Pic: Belgarion wins the Greyville 1900. (Candiese Lenferna).