Linebacker underlined his Vodacom July credentials with a hard fought win in the Daily News 2000 at Hollywoodbets Greyville this afternoon, as Cape based runners ran 1-2-3.
Sean Tarry’s Shah Akbar set a reasonable tempo, while fellow outsider Infinite Wonder got over from the widest draw to race up second.
Kommetdieding sat in third a few lengths off the front two, while Grant van Niekerk on Linebacker had his chief rival firmly in his sights only another length away.
Rascallion similarly sat not far off his stable mate Linebacker, while the Johan Janse van Vuuren duo Second Base and Copper Mountain were well back.
Shah Akbar still led 300m out, albeit heavily under sufferance, as Kommetdieding darted down the inside, and Linebacker went out.
It seemed Linebacker would go on to score comfortably, but Sihle Cele kept plugging away on the Kommet. Despite his best efforts the margin was almost three quarters of a length at the wire, with Rascallion staying on strongly to just pip the gallant Harold Crawford/Michelle Rix trained runner for second.
The margin probably flatters the placed runners slightly, as the winner shifted many horse widths towards the inside over the closing stages.
Shah Akbar just held fourth ahead of a faster finishing Second Base.
“”It all went smoothly. He does everything himself,” said a characteristically self-contained Vaughan Marshall.
“”He’s given me goosebumps every time I’ve ridden him. I was following Kommetdieding as i thought if I beat him we will win,” commented Grant van Niekerk.
“Going into the July he will be the favourite and rightly so,” concluded the delighted pilot.
The time of 123.84 was over a second quicker than the preceding Woolavington.
Which wasn’t surprising, as the Matchett yard’s cunning plan to make it a slow run affair worked to a ‘T’.
Their outsider Only The Brave went to the front, but slowed it right up, while stable mate and odds-on favourite War Of Athena sat in the box seat, along with Netta in a tightly bunched six horse party.
Market rival Princess Calla briefly looked threatening halfway up the straight, but War Of Athena found plenty more and strolled off to an easy win.
“She’s a pleasure to train. We had a plan and it worked out nicely. We’ll decide in the next few days about running in the July,” said Matchett.
“She’s delivered every time, and has a great turn of foot,” commented Muzi Yeni, who is enjoying a great run in terms of G1 action.
Both winners strengthened their already substantial claims regarding Equus three-year-old champion status this season.