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Durbanite Kenneth Pillay of Kestorm Investments had the dream scenario of his own slot for the R7.5 million Gold Rush race and his own runner … that was until the most disappointing news that his Sean Tarry-trained charge Storm Brasco (Pathfork) was not allowed to travel from Randjesfontein due to an AHS outbreak.

Kenneth also owns the Tarry-trained WSB Cape Town Met runner Bless My Stars, who had also been stuck at Randjesfontein waiting for the lifting of the travel ban which had been in place.

He said the horses were actually being prepared to be put on the float when a veterinarian broke the news that they would not be able to travel.

The travel ban for a previous AHS case would have ended on Tuesday (23rd January) and the horses were going to travel that day.

However, in agonising fashion, an AHS case was reported the day before.

Three other horses, the Tarry-trained pair Proceed and Winter Greeting, and the Mike and Adam Azzie-trained Coldhardstare, were also set to run on WSB Cape Town Met day but have had to be scratched.

Kenneth said today he felt both of his Met day particpants would have been big runners.

He said, “Everything was sorted out, we had even booked our plane tickets and accommodation … everything was done and then at the last minute: ‘Hey, you guys can’t go’”

Bless My Stars was one of just five Gr 1 winners in the Met and having finished third in both Durban’s biggest race, the Gr 1 Hollywoodbets Durban July, and Jo’Burg’s biggest race, the Gr 1 Betway Summer Cup, she was third favourite for Cape Town’s biggest race, the WSB Cape Town Met.

Storm Brasco, a three-year-old gelding by Pathfork, won his maiden third time out by 7,75 lengths. That was his first attempt at a mile, the distance of the Gold Rush, and the form was frannked when his runner up, La Moohal, came out and won next time out.

In his first run out of the maidens, Storm Brasco, running in a strong Graduation Plate race over 1600m, produced a flying finish and failed by a shorthead to catch the unbeaten 101 merit rated colt Taegan’s Champ, although he was was receiving 3kg from the latter. Furthermore, he beat the 105 merit rated Guy Gibson, from whom he also received 3kg.

There are only three runners merit rated above 100 in the Gold Rush and Storm Brasco is a progressive type, so it would have been interesting.

The Gold Rush race is a sales race based on Australia’s lucrative Everest.

At the sales, instead of trying to buy a horse to make it into an expensive sales race, the “prospectors” buy a slot into the R7.5 million race.

A slot holder has all the rights to the prize money on offer.

However, if a slot holder ends up not having a suitable runner that he or she owns, he or she then has to either sell the slot or make a deal with the owners of a potential runner for a cut of the stakes.

What is most disappointing for Kenneth is that he bought a slot for the Gold Rush at considerable expense from slot holder Ian Levitan of IR Racing. Kenneth had a qualifier for the race in Storm Brasco, whom he felt had a big chance.

Levitan had a filly candidate whom he did not believe would stay the mile trip, so was happy to sell the slot.

After the scratching of Storm Brasco, Kenneth had to, under the rules of the race, either make a deal with the connections of any one of the three reserve runners or otherwise sell the slot to anybody willing to buy it.

He said his first choice would have been to sell the slot.

However, as stated above, there were only three horses that were potential fillers of the vacant slot i.e. the three reserve runners.

The highest rated reserve was the Vaughan Marshall-trained 86 merit rated Lancaster Bomber gelding Coastal Commander, who is a homebred of Kenneth and Jane Truter’s.

The other two reserves were the 80 merit rated Piet Botha-trained Canford Cliffs gelding Escarpment  and the Brett Crawford-trained 78 merit rated Trippi gelding Champagne Mac.

On paper, Coastal Commander had the best chance of the three.

However, any one of the reserves would have still been the lowest rated runner in the race and would also have inherited the widest draw of 16.

The prize money structure of the Gold Rush is 1st place R5 million, 2nd place R1 million, 3rd place R600,000, 4th place R500,000 and 5th place R400,000.

So, with prize money for the first five only, it was unlikely the connections of any of the reserves would have wanted to splash out the money to purchase the slot.

It was also unlikely anybody else would buy the slot, because trying to finish in the first five with the lowest rated horse from the widest draw would have been against the odds.

So the most likely scenario was for Kenneth to make a stakes-splitting deal with the connections of one of the reserves.

And so it proved.

Coastal Commander is now a runner and will be representing owners and breeders Kenneth and Jane Truter and slot holder Kenneth Pillay of Kestorm Investments.

Hollywoodbets make Coastal Commander a 25/1 shot and he is actually shorter in the betting than five contestants.

Bernard Fayd’Herbe will ride Coastal Commander. he has ridden the horse in most of his races including in his only win over 1250m at Hollywoodbets Durbanville.