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David Thiselton
Mike de Kock won his second Grade 1 of the SA Champions season, the 132nd of his career, and his Australian-bred Deep Field gelding Al Muthana gave Richard Fourie his seventh Grade 1 of the season when winning today’s Grade 1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge over 1600m at Hollywoodbets Greyville.
Fourie needs one more Grade 1 win this season to eclipse Jeff Lloyd’s seven in the 2006/2007 season, which was the most achieved in recent times and it could also be an all-time record.
Fourie “begged” for the ride after being impressed by the way Al Muthana had come up the hill at Summerveld in a work out.
He switched the horse out just before the top of the straight from a midfield position today and got the sling shot off a pace that was good throughout.
Al Muthana then ran on well and was still stretching at the line to beat Linebacker by a cosy 0,40 lengths with Fourie sitting high in the saddle and celebrating.
Linebacker needed his last start badly and showed the turn of foot he is known for, bursting through from near the back and leading close to home.
The race would have put him spot on for the Hollywoodbets Durban July.
The twice L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate winner Jet Dark was always going to have a tough task from a wide draw as it meant due to his being-dropped-out style he was likely going to have to come from last. So it proved and he did well to run through the centre to be beaten into third by just 0,60 lengths. He should also be spot on for the July.
MK’s Pride had no cover early after being taken up there from a wide draw but managed to slot in behind Crown Towers a quarter of the way through the race.
He led in the straight but was overtaken by the front three in the final stages, so his early exertions might have told.
Russian Rock took a keen hold and was left without cover when MK’s Pride slotted in early on.
He was this unable to relax and it told in the straight, although he did well to run a 1,95 length fifth just ahead of Bingwa.
Fourie said Al Muthana would easily stay the July trip, so De Kock will have a strong hand in the big one with him and Safe Passage.
However, he will have to find a jockey for Al Muthana because Fourie will be on Pomp And Power.
Picture: Candiese Lenferna