BERNARD Fayd’Herbe was the first, and on Saturday also became the second jockey in history to win the three-legged Cape Winter Series at Kenilworth.
Sponsored by the refreshingly aggressive marketers Highlands, part of Ridgemont, the 2017 Series went to Justin Snaith’s African Night Sky (fittingly also bred by the sponsors), who sliced through the field like a hot knife through butter to add the Gr3 Winter Derby over 2400m to his wins in April’s Gr3 Winter Guineas and last month’s Gr Winter Classic. He won by 5.50-lengths, not extended.
His stamina now beyond doubt, African Night Sky is starting to shape as a serious major-race contender for 2018, but how does he compare to the illustrious Pocket Power, who won the Series for Fayd’Herbe and Mike Bass in 2006?
Fayd’Herbe told Turf Talk this morning: “You can’t compare the two. African Night Sky is a lot more forward at this point of his career than Pocket Power was. If you look at Pocket Power’s old winning photos, he had a long coat that winter and he was a lanky horse who only really fully realised his potential a bit later.
“That said, African Night Sky is a very good horse, he’s the best I’ve seen in Cape Town and he’s going places. He quickens very well, he has all the attributes of a really top horse.”
One can argue that Pocket Power had a top “understudy” in his early career in the form of later internationally performed Silver Mist and that so far African Night Sky has not faced an opponent of that quality, but having another seriously good “Talking Horse” coming through the ranks is as good for racing as the Springboks’ good recent performances are for rugby – it creates interest, hails champions and draws crowds!
For the sake of comparison, here are some Winter Series facts below. The debates around comparing horses from different eras will rage on, but never be truly settled.
POCKET POWER 2006
7 May: Won Gr3 Winter Guineas over 1600m, beat Majestic Sun by 3.75-lengths in 100,61s (track good)
27 May: Won Gr3 Winter Classic over 1800m, beat Silver Mist by 1.25-lengths in 112.55s (track good)
17 June: Won Gr3 Winter Derby over 2400m, beat Silver Mist by 2.25-lengths in 153.65s (wet track, head wind)
AFRICAN NIGHT SKY 2017
29 April: Won Gr3 Winter Guineas over 1600m, beat Our Mate Art by 1,25-lengths in 99,10s (track good)
21 May: Won Gr3 Winter Classic over 1800m, beat Our Mate Art by 0.25-lengths in 113,45s (track good)
24 June: Won Gr3 Winter Derby over 2400m, beat Paddington by 5.50-lengths in 149.37 (track good)
Headline photo by Wayne Marks: African Night Sky wins the Cape Winter Derby.