THE Gr1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge over 1600m at Greyville on Saturday produced not only a thrilling finish, but a series of first top-level successes for different participants.

The three-year-old winner, Undercover Agent, proved his exceptional quality with a first Gr1 win from only 10 starts, providing his part-owner Greg Bortz with the same. Champion jockey elect Lyle Hewitson finally broke his Gr1 duck in what is likely to be the first of many major wins; and up-and-coming Moutonshoek Stud posted a long overdue Gr1 success and are others for whom this is only the start of big things to come.

Undercover Agent (4-1) was perfectly course and distance suited. He came to the front with 400m to run and held on gamely to hold off a late challenge from Snowdance, who ran a cracker herself and will be hard to beat wherever she lines up next.

Hewitson said: “Undercover Agent ran against some hard knockers, but he put them under pressure with his big stride. It looked like they were going to catch us, but his tenacity and his stride pulled him through.”

Trainer Brett Crawford commented: “It’s great to have back-to-back wins in this race, to defend our title. Well done to (my assistant) Peter Muscutt, who is doing a wonderful job in KZN with our older horses. Thanks to the whole team, including (farrier) Robbie Dawson. Undercover Agent had a nasty over-reach a few weeks ago.”

Braam van Huyssteen, who owns Undercover Agent along with Bortz, congratulated his partner who was ill and could not make it to the track. “It’s all happening for us now, it’s great to be involved in this lovely sport,” he said.

Dr Bennie van der Merwe of Moutonshoek Stud was overjoyed and said he’d be cracking open a few cold ones in celebration on Saturday night. He said that Undercover Agent’s dam, Secret Risk (London News), had a weanling by Flower Alley at foot and that she was in foal again to Rafeef.

Undercover Agent, by the wonderful Captain Al, has won five of 10 starts for R4,7-million in stakes.

Photo: Candiese Marnewick.