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Picture: Owners Laurence Wernars, right of the horse, and Harry Willson, second to the left of the horse, lead in Shangani with a big entourage of supporters. (Candiese Lenferna Photography). 

Warren Kennedy spoke to Turf Talk about his first win of the country’s premier staying event, the Marshalls World Of Sport Gold Cup on the Paul Peter-trained Shangani (Soft Falling Rain).
The now twice SA Champion Jockey won the race in similar fashion to S’Manga Khumalo’s Hollywoodbets Durban July ride, with the move made from the jump being the key to victory.
Warren revealed, “When I looked at everybody else’s draw there were a lot of horses inside of us who didn’t have gatespeed, so it really cancelled that draw 12 down to a draw 8 or so, it actually wasn’t a bad draw at all.”
Kennedy drove his mount from the off and when getting in line with Shango, who was just outside of a pulling Black Thorn on the rail, he was able to drop his hands and literally cruise in to a position in front of them. He reached the rail at the start of the first turn, by which time the vanguard on the outside of Salvatore Mundi, Imperial Ruby and Rex Union had already moved ahead of him. They were later joined by Crimson King, which left Shangani in the perfect position in fifth place on the rail.  
Warren said, “The race went exactly to plan. We actually planned it about eight months ago with this horse. A few months ago I actually said to Laurence Wernars ‘He will win the Gold Cup’. I was confident of this. The draw was a little bit of a worry, I won’t lie about that. But I was able to get him into a spot I was very comfortable with. I wanted him to be about three lengths off, nice and relaxed. He’s a very easy horse to ride. He switches off immediately, so it was just a matter of him unwinding in the straight. The pace was genuine throughout, and there was no start-stop. So it really suited me. I was able to switch him off completely and set him alight just before turning into the home straight. He quickened nicely. It got a bit tight on the inside, but he was always lengthening and I was always confident he was going to get there.”
He reiterated about the pace, “It was not a breakneck speed and obviously in the the first 200 or 300 metres we all chase for position and it then will slow down, you have got to understand that it will do that, but it didn’t slow down drastically. They basically kept the momentum rolling, it was a nice fair pace and suited my horse down to the ground.”
He confirmed, “I was always wary of Imperial Ruby being in front. He has caught me out once before, when he skipped away at the top of the straight and we weren’t able to reel him in. So I always had him in my sights.”
He added, “Our prep coming into the race was fantastic. I was just supremely confident going into the race that he would pull it off and he did it.”
Craig Zackey rode a superb race on Imperial Ruby.
He bided his time until the back straight to ease the five-year-old Corne Spies-trained Silvano gelding into the lead, where he loves to be.
He then opened a gap on the group behind him when rounding the Drill Hall and began stretching the field out, but never went too fast. This made it a test of stamina, but also effectively took the backmarkers out of the equation. 
Among the backmarkers was the favourite Nebraas, who broke on terms but was then shuffled back as they sorted themselves out going past the grandstand for the first time. When the outside vanguard moved around into the lead he suddenly found himself worryingly far back and he was never able to improve his position.
Zackey also stayed a couple of horse widths wide of the rail throughout on less trampled ground.
Imperial Ruby set sail for home and Zackey drove with the hands until the 250m mark before drawing the stick.
Kennedy had slipped through between Salvator Mundi and Crimson King, but was then being kept tight by Rex Union on his outside.
He switched inward hunting for a gap on the rail.
Fortunately, at just the right moment, Imperial Ruby shifted on to the rail himself, leaving a gap between himself and Rex Union.
Kennedy didn’t hesitate to accept the invitation. 
Now with daylight in front of him, Shangani’s big stride slowly built up enough momentum to close the one length he needed to make up from the 150m mark.
He started eating into the lead in the last 75m and crossed the line 0,60 lengths clear of the gallant Imperial Ruby. 
Kennedy couldn’t contain his excitement and stood up in the saddle to salute.
He said, “Laurence and Harry Willson have been very good to me, so it was a meaningful win. I know Laurence wanted to win this race for a long time. To bring it home is something special, especially when I tipped it to him four months ago!”   
In the previous race Warren had finished third on Big Burn in the Grade 1 Mercury Sprint and he said, “She ran to the best of her ability, everything went her way, obviously Captain’s Ransom is just a freak and we couldn’t beat her.”
He might well be leaving soon for New Zealand.
He said, “It’s on the cards, it’s not official yet. If my visas do come through I will be leaving.”