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MK’S PRIDE’s owner Koos Nkale celebrates after his KwaZulu-Natal Breeders Mile victory at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Sunday (Candiese Lenferna Photography)


Andrew Harrison (Gold Circle)

MK’S Pride looked to be the right horse in the right race but it was a lot closer than the weights suggested. MK’S Pride has had his issues but Robbie Sage, a veteran of the sport, knows what it takes to get a horse back on track and pick the right race and he got it spot on as Muzi Yeni got the best out of the Willow Magic entire to win the KZN Breeders Mile at Hollywoodbets Greyville yesterday.

Yeni, who rides regularly for the Sage stable, always had his mount in contention and in spite of admitting that he had pulled the trigger a little early in the straight, MK’S Pride responded gamely to hold off the challenge of the fast improving Noble City.

MK’S Pride started his career in winning form but hit a slump when suspended for bleeding. Owner Koos Nkale kept faith, a trait not prevalent in many owners, as he explained in his post-race interview that it had been over a year since MK’S Pride’s last win and when you have been used to regular visits to the winner’s enclosure, one starts to doubt.

MK’S Pride notched his 10th win and Peter Muscutt will be holding his breath to see how the handicappers access Noble City’s effort. He was way out at the handicap yet pressed MK’S Pride to the line.

If you were watching and taken an in-running bet that the favourite would not make it to the winner’s box in the first – you will have done your money!

Hot favourite Platina Princess looked dead-and-buried two furlongs out and Si Veloce a certain winner as she went clear under Philasande Mxoli. But Craig Zackey kept the favourite hard to her task as she gradually made up the leeway, joined in her run for the line by She Can.

The three crossed the line as one but the photo finished showed Princess Platina a nose in front of She Can with Si Veloce a further nose back in third.

Although it was close at the death, Mike de Kock was of the opinion that the Michael Destombes home-bred is already looking for a mile and further and suggested that punters keep a close eye on her progress.

It was more of the same in the second but this time the pacemaker stayed in front with two short-heads separating the first three home.

Gavin Lerena, answering the call from Michelle Rix for the ride, took Strawberry Stinger to the front and the colt held on gamely to keep Vibe SA and Mount Pilatus at bay. It was a three-way battle for the last furlong but the Blue Sky Thoroughbreds colt never gave up and is off to a well-earned rest.

Siphesihle Hlengwa rode his fiftieth winner at Hollywoodbets Greyville last Wednesday which saw him lose his claim, but he was quickly off the mark as he steered Russian Doll to a convincing victory in the third. Aunty Lizzy took off as if she had a fire under her tail chased by Get In The Q with the balance of the field well back, including Russian Doll who only had 52kg to shoulder.

The two up front compounded in the straight as Hlengwa asked for maximum. The early pace played into the hands of the bottom weight as she quickened through her field to win unchallenged for Michael Roberts, the filly racing in the colours of his wife Verna who also bred the filly.

Sean Tarry is a staunch supporter of KZN-bred horses and by definition seldom leaves KZN Breeders Day without a winner or three. The Bush Hill Stud-bred Magic Tattoo is a son of the Tarry-trained Willow Magic and he kept the Tarry record intact.

Richard Fourie rode a forward race on the gelding who barreled out of the gate and he was not for the catching, comfortably holding off the chasing pack with narrow favourite African Skyline touching off a late charging Beechamwood Boy who came from the tail of the field.

Such are the vagaries of racing. Tarry was unsure whether to leave the blinkers off of The Kop. “He was getting stale so I took the blinkers off to mix it up. This is his third run after a lay-off and I have left them off. I hope I’ve done the right thing,” he said.

Unfortunately for Tarry supporters it was possibly the wrong call as The Kop was under pressure even before the field hit the turn as Derryl Daniels, hunting a first win since returning to the saddle, dictated the pace on the filly Capetown Beauty. It almost paid off; he was the winner two jumps from the line but was collard late by a charging Pirate Prince as Ashton Arries unleashed a late burst on the Bush Hill-bred gelding, The Kop running on too late for third.

Strawberry Bear did it all wrong but still won the sixth going a mile that he was not sure to stay. The striking grey doesn’t lack in substance and knows it as he powered to the front and had Tristan Godden on a tight rein rather than the other way around. But with Pewter Sky eventually taking it up, Godden and Strawberry Bear got a brief breather before they set sail for home and lasting just long enough to hold off a late-charging Prince Of Taranto.

It was an excellent effort from a horse that looks to be more of a seven furlong specialist but if Mike Miller and his team can get the gelding to relax early, enthusiastic owners Tony Jelinski and Sterling Miller should see the inside of the winner’s box a few more times.

Tarry was not to be denied a second win on the day as Summerhill-bred Magical Flight responded to a driving ride from S’ Manga Khumalo to get up close home and get the better of Malcolm’s Dream.