VARSFONTEIN Stud enjoyed an amazing Gold Cup Day with wins by their graduates in both the classic Gr1 races (Anything Goes and Sent By Destiny), a Gr2 win (Erik The Red) and another Gr2 win from a runner by their resident stallion Gimmethegreenlight (Ecstatic Green).
Varsfontein’s Carl de Vos told Turf Talk: “What a day it was, we thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s not often things come together like this on a major race day.”
The stud was especially chuffed with Umkhomazi Stakes winner Erik The Red (Captain Al), who stormed home in the 1400m race under Richard Fourie for a half-length win over Garrulous.
Fourie had to work for his fee, having to change whip hands on Erik The Red a few times and draw on some muscle to keep him straight and balanced.
The jockey commented: “I love this horse, but he’s a big boy and I keep asking Justin (Snaith, trainer) to ask to get him gelded. He’s getting bigger and stronger, and he’s still green and very immature.”
De Vos joked: “We’ll geld Richard before we geld Erik The Red! As we noted to Justin early on, he’s a horse with big stallion potential. He was, still is, a magnificent specimen and he has a stallion’s pedigree, being by Captain Al from Covenant, who won the Southern Cross Stakes and the Sceptre Stakes.
“Captain Al now has William Longsword and One World at stud. We can’t have enough of them to continue his line, the more the better for the breeding industry. Covenant is a daughter of Secret Pact, the own sister to London News who started the great family of Secret Heart, Promisefrommyheart, Pluck, Master Of My Fate and others. It’s one the very best pedigrees in the stud book.”
De Vos said that a number of breeders are already looking to secure shares in Erik The Red and told: “When he crossed the line, I had six, seven text messages and two phone calls. The breeders want in, if we can get him to stud. But it goes without saying we need a Gr1 win from him, it is so important that he gets that to his name. Going to stud with just a Gr2 win won’t be the same.”
De Vos pointed out that six of Erik The Red’s races so far have been black-type races. He has won five races in total, with two places. “He’s got it all, he can win at the highest level and we’ll be discussing it with Justin. He has the Gr1 Cape Guineas in mind and that will be the top prize we can get as a three-yearold!”
In addition to his qualities on paper, Erik The Red, despite his coltishness, is described a very likeable horse with plenty of ability and Fourie said that the youngster “grinded hard” to win. “It was a big task, he gave it to me, he enjoyed the fight!”
Snaith said: “He’s a young horse still, and he came to Durban for the first time, he had to see Scottsville first, then Greyville and it’s a lot harder than it looks. I was very impressed by the way he handled this race. When he comes to Durban next time he will have had the advantage of looking at all the different tracks.”
Snaith said that he had chosen to bypass the mile in the Premiers due to a bad draw, but that all the races were highly competitive in nature, including the Umkhomazi Stakes.
The clashes over a mile will come later this year. Erik The Red is now on his way to Varsfontein, where he will be taking a few weeks break before Snaith starts his preparation for the summer season.