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Molly selects Universal to turn tables on Double Superlative

David Mollett

He’s had a book written about him, but there are always extra chapters to add when it comes to the life of the charismatic Greg Blank. He would welcome some fresh headlines on Sunday reporting that Universal – a horse he co-owns – has won the Jonsson Workwear Cape Derby.

Rex Gibson was the author of the 1997 book “Prisoner Of Power” which told the tale of Blank’s imprisonment following his notorious fraud case.

This writer had the honour to work under Gibson, the last editor of the Rand Daily Mail which closed its doors in 1985. He passed away in January 2020.

Now in his early sixties and having moved from the Highveld to the Cape, Blank has more time to indulge in his passion for horseracing and the pursuit of big race winners.

Amazingly, drama still seems to follow Blank around. Universal, a horse bred by the Tawny Syndicate which was formed by Blank, Larry Nestadt and Jeff Shill in 1984, had won two of his four starts so the decision was taken to run the son of gimmethegreenlight in the Cape Guineas.

To say that plan ended up in tatters is an understatement. The colt was severely hampered 400m out, became unbalanced and trailed in four lengths behind Anton Marcus’ mount, Double Superlative.
The severity of the incident, which also involved Trip To Fortune, was highlighted when the Cape stipendiary board slapped Marcus with an 18-day suspension.

So the big question which was posed to Blank this week was this: Without that interference, how close would have Universal got to Double Superlative in the Guineas?

“Well, we were beaten four lengths so you can think we should have been a lot closer if we hadn’t been bumped around,” said Blank.

“The big thing in our favour is that we’re improving and Adam (Marcus) says the horse is well within himself and was happy with him when I visited the stable last Friday. Double Superlative had a hard race in the Met – we’ll see on Saturday how good he is or isn’t,” he added.

“I’m not sure just how much Double Superlative is improving – he’s pretty exposed. The rest of the field look pretty dead so it should be between the two of them,” said Blank.

So the exacta route is the way to go in the Cape Derby which is sponsored by Double Superlative’s owner, Nick Jonsson. He could end up showing a profit on his outlay as the first cheque is R625 000.

If punters box the two colts, they should be in the payout queue. If Universal was to upset the favourite, the dividend could be between R4 and R5.

At what should be an outstanding meeting at Kenilworth with its seafood festival, Rio Querari will be a hot favourite to take his stake earnings over R2 million by winning the Gr 2 Diadem Stakes.

There are several feature races at Turffontein on Sunday and jockey Richard Fourie jets to the Highveld to partner Arividicio in the Storm Bird Stakes. The Mike De Kock inmate is weighted to turn the tables on Sean Tarry’s runner, Magic Tattoo.

In the Ruffian Stakes, it is surely significant that Paul Peter’s number one jockey, Warren Kennedy, has opted to ride River Queraress rather than stablemate, Fennec Fox. Both fillies are daughters of Querari.


1. (3) Universal
2. (1) Double Superlative
3. (2) Pomp And Power
4. (5) Senso Unico

1. (1) Rio Querari
2. (3) Bereave
3. (7) Cosmic Highway
4. (5) Irish Morning

1. (1) Princess Calla
2. (6) Amanzimtoti
3. (2) Major Attraction
4. (8) Dancetildaylight

1. (3) Firealley
2. (4) Warrior
3. (6) Super Silvano
4. (1) Silver Operator

1. (3) Marvel William
2. (7) Shifting Path
3. (6) Question Master
4. (12) Echo Of Life

1. (2) Bayberry
2. (1) Crome Yellow
3. (6) Follow The Star
4. (5) Flower Of Saigon


1. (4) Arrividicio
2. (1) Magic Tattoo
3. (3) Ode To The Ocean
4. (2) Power Broker

1. (2) River Queraress
2. (1) Fennec Fox
3. (5) Magic Tycoon
4. (3) Show Time

1. (8) Naarah
2. (6) Remember When
3. (1) Thumbs Up
4. (4) Bella Chica

1. (3) Sentbydestiny
2. (1) Mount Laurel
3. (5) Admire Me
4. (8) Rosaprima
Article courtesy of Business Day.
Picture: UNIVERSAL (Chase Liebenberg Photography).