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Picture: Main Defender wins the Gr 3 Got The Greenlight Stakes cosily under Calvin Habib (JC Photos)

The Tony Peter-trained Pathfork gelding Main Defender kept his unbeaten record this season intact when finding extra from a handy position in the Gr 3 Got The Greenlight Stakes over 1400m, his third Graded victory in succession.
The conditions were soft with a penetrometer reading of 27, so it would not have been an easy race for the three-year-old.
Time will tell whether David Nieuwenhuizen’s decision to pull Sandringham Summit out of the race was a wise one.
He felt that on its new rescheduled date after a rain enforced postponement it was being run too close to the Gr 2 WSB Gauteng Guineas on February 3.
Main Defender jumped from a wide draw and was one out and one back without cover in the running.
That would have meant a hard race for most horses.
However, he relaxes well in the running and in the straight he cruised to the front without being under pressure.
However, he had to find extra when challenged by Barbaresco.
He did so readily to win by 1,10 lengths.
Karel Miedema awarded him a 105 ability rating (AR) on his raceform website, which can be compared to the 115 he was given over the same course and distance when touching off Sandringham Summit in the Gr 3 Betway Graham Beck Stakes.
That suggests he might have won with a bit in hand, despite carrying a 2kg penalty.
The connections will certainly be hoping he did not over exert himself with the Gauteng Guineas just under three weeks away.
However, the post-race comments suggest it was not plain sailing at all for Main Defender.
Michele Wing of Gold Circle’s Racing News put the comments into text:
🎤CALVIN HABIB: “I was going to let him (Main Defender) dictate to me out the gates. He flew the gates so I went forward. A couple of guys also pressed forward and at one stage it didn’t look like it was going to work out for us. Luckily, we came a bit back and one off (the rail). The moment I got one off, he spat the bit out, relaxed for me and when we came into the straight, he just started doing pace work. When I asked him, he gave me a beautiful kick. I think it was a win full of merit to race the way he did up the Turffontein hill … it is not easy. I always came into this race very confident and just had to believe in the horse. I’m truly blessed. This season has been great for me and to be aboard a horse like this, is what’s racing’s about … it’s what you wake up every day for. It was an emotional win”.
🎤TONY PETER: “Everything that could go wrong this past week, did go wrong. I’m taking no credit for this win. The horse is a good horse, he’s a champion. With good horses when you make mistakes, they help you out. The horse got to the track today missing a shoe, which he lost on the way. God’s been with us, and we’ve been asking for help, and I really thank God for this win. I had him spot on last week, but this week we had no tracks. It was like a river down here, so I don’t know how he won, but he won”.
🎤JOHN HABIB: “Phenomenal, phenomenal. He’s just a champ. What can I say. Just very emotional. Thanks to Mark and my partners, Frankie, my brother Gary, my nieces at home, my wife, and Tony and Peter. Phenomenal work behind the scenes. We haven’t seen the best of him yet”.
🏆Winner: 1. MAIN DEFENDER / Tony Peter / Calvin Habib
2nd : 7. Barbaresco / Johan Janse van Vuuren / Gavin Lerena
3rd : 5. Hotarubi / Sean Tarry / Kaiden Brewer
4th : 3. The Africa House / Sean Tarry / Serino Moodley
🏆Winning Owners: Messrs J J Habib, G, K & M M Nassif
Winning Breeders: Jagessar Limited
Breeding: Pathfork (USA) x Alessia by Judpot (USA)
🏇Race Record: 7 Starts : 6 Wins : 1 Place : Earnings R1 304 375
Nevertheless, the Johan Janse van Vuuren-trained and Laurence Wernars and Rikesh Sewgoolam-owned Barabaresco emerged as a classic contender when running on well from near the back for second. Miedema  awarded him a 98 AR, which is 15 points higher than any AR he had achieved in his previous starts, which were all confined to sprints.
Barbaresco is out of the classy Fort Wood mare Negroamaro, who represented Wernars on the racecourse and he now breeds with her. Negroamaro won the Gr 3 Fillies mile before being runner up in all of the Gr 2 Gauteng Fillies Guineas, the Gr 1 SA Fillies Classic and Gr 1 Woolavinton 2000 as well as finishing third in the Gr 2 Fillies Guineas at Greyville.
Barbaresco is a full-brother to the former Janse van Vuuren-trained Outofthedarkness, who was also runner up in the Got The Greenlight (previously known as the Tony Ruffel Stakes) and he went on to finish third in the Gauteng Guineas.
Vercingetorix gelding Hotarubi ran a 4,25 length third in the Got The Greenlight Stakes. However, this was only equal with his previous best performance according to Miedema’s ratings (88).
Gimmeanotherchance did not get the best of breaks but the plan of taking him to the front was still persisted with meaning he had to be rousted and used significantly. The early exertion in the testing conditions duly saw him fading into a well below par 7,25 length fifth. His AR of 79 was 27 points below his Gr 2 Jonsson Workwear Dingaans runner up peformance.
The Africa House also ran below par when running on from last for a 5,75 length fourth, but this What A Winter gelding has always struck as one who needs further.
Main Defender’s only career defeat was to Sandringham Summit in the Gr 1 World Pool Moment Of The Day Champion Stakes over 1600m.
He had to miss his second attempt at 1600m in the Jonsson Workwear Dingaans due to all of the Peter yard horses being controversially cratched by the stipendiary stewards on Betway Summer Cup day.
However, he will get a chance to exact revenge on Sandringham Summit in the Gauteng Guineas.
They are both merit rated 121 and Sandringham Summit has achieved the highest raceform AR this season of 117, when giving Main Defender 1kg and being narrowly defeated in the Graham Beck.