It was fitting that on the day of Piere Strydom’s milestone 5,500th winner Lucky Houdalakis was able to record another fine training feat.
The William Longsword colt Dyce was one of the best performed two-year-olds of his crop, culminating in a demolition job in the Grade 2 Epol Umkhomazi Stakes over 1200m at Hollywoodbets Greyville turf, which he won by 4,30 lengths.
However, an injury then kept him off the racetrack for 15 months.
He obviously needed his comeback run over 1000m on November 3 and it was too sharp for him.
Those who knew him as a two-year-old would have recognised his running style today (he has a distinctive way of carrying his head in an upward position).
Those who were unaware would have been amazed to learn he had been sidelined for so long.
There was no sign of ring rustiness and he did not beat an ordinary field in the Graduation Plate over 1200m either.
He slammed the highly touted three-year-old filly Southern Skies, who started 46/100 favourite, by 2,25 lengths despite giving her 6kg.
S’Manga Khumalo has ridden him in both his comeback runs.
Dyce went into the race rated 101 and has now reclaimed his status as an exciting prospect.
Lucky’s wife Natalie said afterwards, “The longer you give them, the better they come back.”
The Houdalakis team were behind J J The Jet Plane’s incredible Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint win, which provided the cherry on the top of what must surely be the greatest comeback story in the history of South African racing.
Piere Strydom was of course aboard the Lucky Houdalakis-trained superstar that famous day on 12 December 2010 and to this day rates J J, whom he rode to six Grade 1 victories, as the best he has ever ridden.