After an emotional and trying few months of challenges that arrived in all shapes and sizes, ‘Highveld Hero’ Main Defender returned at Turffontein on Saturday after a mostly involuntary eleven week break, to record a workmanlike victory in the R350 000 Betway Gr3 Got The Greenlight Stakes.
The son of Pathfork has developed something of a cult following in his home province, where he often masquerades as the flagbearer of the North vs South movement, and is an equine athlete of serious talent.
It’s now well documented Main Defender missed his Merchants engagement on Betway Summer Cup day in November ’23 in a matter that is the subject of an ongoing inquiry.
Then a week ago, the rains dashed our hopes of him bumping arch-rival Sandringham Summit in this very race, formerly known as the Tony Ruffel Stakes.
With Sandringham Summit’s connections opting out in view of the proximity to the Gauteng Guineas on 3 February, Main Defender (8-10) looked to have the 1400m contest at his mercy on Saturday, and after stalking Gimmeanotherchance for much of the trip, new pilot Calvin Habib shook the Tony Peter charge up at the 300m and he powered on, lugging in slightly towards the grey Barbaresco (33-1).
The margin at the line was an unextended 1,10 lengths in a winning time of 84,91 secs – 1,46 secs faster than the fillies a half hour earlier.
This was a third straight feature success for Main Defender, who is lethal over 1400m and has only been dethroned once in seven starts – and that over a mile by the smart Sandringham Summit.
Mike de Kock’s unbeaten Champagne Cocktail was seen as a potential danger in some quarters, receiving 4,5 kgs from the Peter star, but the talented filly never showed and ran out of the money.
A R140 000 buy from the 2022 BSA Cape Yearling Sale, Main Defender was bred by Jagessar Limited and is a son of Ridgemont’s Sandown Stud-based stallion Pathfork (Distorted Humor) out of the twice winning Judpot mare, Alessia.
Main Defender took his stakes earnings over R1,3 million, and where to now?
He won a good unpressured race here on the soft, and there may be a temptation for him to go for the proverbial jugular in the Guineas on 3 February. That would be a drawcard of note.
Enjoy the replay: