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Main Defender just gets up to deny Sandringham Summit (JC Photos)

Sandringham Summit won round one and Main Defender won round two in what looks likely to become a fierce rivalry between two top horses.

However, the David Nieuwenhuizen-trained Gimmethegreenlight colt Sandringham Summit’s supporters will point to him having had to give Main Defender 1kg when beaten a shorthead on Saturday in the Gr 3 Betway Graham beck Stakes and furthermore he went into the race without a run under the belt, unlike Main Defender. Furthermore, they will point to their meeting on a level playing field i.e. in the Gr 1 World Pool Moment Of The Day Champion Stakes over 1600m at the end of last season at Hollywoodbets Greyville, which went the way of Sandringham Summit by a comfortable 2,40 lengths easing up.
Nevertheless, the most you can do is win and the Tony Peter-trained Pathfork gelding Main Defender won on Saturday. He has most decidedly improved since his Champion Stakes defeat, as highlighted by his demolition job in the Gr 2 Jo’Burg Betway Spring Challenge over 1450m.
He has now won five out of six starts.
The pair might clash next in either the Gr 2 Jonsson Workwear Duingaans over 1600m or the Gr 1 Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas, or both.
Whichever race it is will be eagerly anticipated.
On Saturday, Main Defender sat in the box seat behind the pacemaker with Sandringham Summit behind him.
In the straight they had come together 400m out, with Sandringham Summit on Main Defender’s inside, and an enthralling ding-dong tussle ensued.
A change of whip into the left hand hand by Calvin Habib just before the 100m mark initially had the desired effect because Sandringham Summit found a surge to go ahead. However, ultimately it might have been costly because he drifted towards the rail instead of being locked together with his rival. This handed the initiative back to Main Defender.
Kabelo Matsunyane had the stick in the left hand which kept Main Defender concentrating on the horse on his inside.
A change in whip hand is usually required for a horse to change legs but on this occasion Main Defender changed legs of his own accord. He switched on to a right hand leg just over 50m from the line and came back to pip Sandringham Summit on the line. The official margin was a shorthead.
Main Defender, bred by Jagessar Limited, is owned by Messrs J J Habib, G, K & M M Nassif.
The Mike de Kock-trained GimmeAnotherChance was expected to come third and did so, but was put in his place because he received 3kg from Sandringham Summit and 2kg from Main Defender and was beaten 3,25 lengths.
The Sean Tarry-trained The Africa House’s career had been blighted by bad luck up until Saturday, but he showed how classy he is by running on strongly from last for a 4,25 length fourth. He is a big horse with a huge stride and could have a big say in a race like the Gr 1 WSB SA Classic over 1800m. He runs like he will get the trip, but on pedigree there might be a stamina doubt as he is by What A Winter out of Trippi mare Rain In Africa, who was kept to sprints and whose only win was over 1000m.
The disappointment of the race was the KZN raider Sovereign State, who was beaten 5,50 lengths into sixth place, receiving 3kg from Sandringham Summit. However, that might not turn out to be a disgrace at all such was the quality of the field.
Karel Miedema’s analysis said it all … 117 Ability Rating for Sandringham Summit and 115 for main Defender.
117 is the highest ability rating Miedema ever awarded to last season’s Equus Three-year-old champion male, Charles Dickens, which says a lot because the latter has been widely regarded as an all time superstar.
Main Defender has remained on a 121 merit rating and Sandringham Summit has been raised four points to join him on that mark.