Puerto Manzano adds a Gr 2 to his two Gr 1s and three Gr 3s achieved on Turffontein Standside
A sixth Graded win on Turffontein Standside for the Johan Janse van Vuuren-trained Laurence Wernars-owned six-year-old Argentinian-bred gelding
The Argentian-bred Seek Again gelding Puerto Manzano, trained by Johan Janse van Vuuren and owned by Laurence Wernars, has won six Graded races in his career and all six of them have been at Turffontein Standside.
On Saturday in the Gr 2 Allied Steelrode On A Mission Charirty Mile even being caught wide without cover in the first half of the race and having to carry 60.5kg did not stop him from producing his now familiar sustained finish from off the pace. He runs in blinkers and takes a while to wind up into top gear, but once he does he maintains it and his huge stride does the rest. He came from midfield on Saturday after jumping from draw 15 of 16. He was caught wide from the off until about the 800m mark and was left without cover again at about the 500m mark as the horse he was following, Winchester Mansion, switched inward for a run. However, the secret to this horse if watching the replay carefully is he responds precisely to the jockey’s instructions. Gavin Lerena relaxed him jumping out the stalls and then asked him to get around a wide horse in to a possible covered position. However, when he did not get the cover he was seeking Lerena just asked him to relax again. And despite being without cover he did relax. He then asked him to get going shortly after entering the straight just by niggling at him. The big horse began winding up and started creeping forward. Lerena gave him a backhander at the 200m mark and from top gear Puerto Manzano managed to produce a late surge. His long neck and heartwarming resolve is the image that remains imprinted on the mind as he sauntered past the other protagonists to win by 0,70 lengths.
Cousin Casey started favourite and ran a cracker in his first start for Sean Tarry by finishing second and sablemate Bless My Stars carried on from where she had left off last season by finishing third. The Hollywoodbets Durban July winner Winchester Mansion battled on well for fourth, while the winner of the previous two renewals of the Charity Mile, Bingwa, was a touch unlucky not to make te frame as he appeared to become cramped for room in the final stages.
Puerto Manzano has never been far away from the headlines, even causing a rumpus on debut.
He was actually bought as an extra in Argentina to fill up the shipping pallett after the first choice horse had been secured.
Bloodstock agent Justin Vermaak explained in the post race interview of last season’s Betway Summer Cup, “We bought Kay Tee Perry’s full brother and needed an extra horse to fill up the shipping pallet. I was dead keen on Puerto Manzano, from Haras Carampanque. He was by Seek Again (Gone West), a stallion who had disappointed and wasn’t in favour, but from a mare by Orpen – and he was an absolutely magnificent specimen we could buy for the equivalent of about R550,000. Laurence agreed, and the smashing Puerto Manzano took their breath away when he stepped off the float in South Africa.”
Vermaak said there is great value still, at the top end of bloodstock auctions in Argentina. He explained: “In South Africa, the major buyers go up to between R2-million and R4-million, even higher, to secure the top colts. It’s hard to compete here. Puerto Manzano would have been in the same high bracket if he was sold in SA at the time, but in Argentina we picked him up as a relatively speaking ‘cheapie.’”
On debut Puerto Manzano’s huge stride carried him to a dead-heat finish at odds of 18/1 with his hotpot 7/20 favourite stablemate Thumbs Up over the too sharp 1200m, but jockey Chase Maujean was handed a R60,000 fine, of which R30,000 was suspended for 12 months, for having been deemed by the stipes to have not ridden with necessary vigour.
When an appeal fee paid for on behalf of Maujean by Wernars was deemed to have been paid “out of time” by the NHA and thus not accepted, it led to Wernars resigning from the NHA board and threatening to “quit” racing.
However, he changed his mind after Maujean was subsequently exonerated by an appeal board and the penalties set aside.
Laurence has had many great days at the racecourse since, including on Saturday. He and Janse van Vuuren not only won the Charity Mile together, but also the first race over 1160m with three-year-old Querari gelding San Simon and the last race over 1600m with four-year-old Royal Mo gelding Mo The Man. All three winners were ridden by Lerena.
Puerto Manzano has had his best season to date according to the respected racing analyst Karel Miedema, so is only getting better as a six-year-old.
Miedema awarded him a 110 ability rating (AR) for the win, which was the equivalent of the rating he awarded him for his win in the Gr 3 Jubilee Stakes in June this year and his narrow second in the Gr 1 HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m in April last year, which were his two highest AR’s before this season.
HIs best ever ability rating according to Miedema’s Raceform was in his reappearance this season, his penultimate start, when finishing second in a Pinnacle Plate race over 2000m. He gave all of the field 12kg except for one horse whom he gave 10kg and Miedema awarded him a 113 AR.
He was ignored by pundits and punters on Saturday and started at 20/1.
However, he has shortened into 4/1 favoure with the sponsor for the Betway Summer Cup over 2000m , where he will attempt to defend his crown on November 25 at his favourite stamping ground.
Main Defender Makes It 1-1 in Potentially Great Rivalry
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.
Lucky And Dave Enjoy Another Halcyon Day, Craig Too
Dyce wins easing up on Saturday (JC Photos).
The Lucky Houdalakis/Dave Shaw combination is becoming an increasing force and they landed two stakes races with two exciting horses on Saturday, Dyce and Egyptian Mau, who were both ridden to victory by Craig Zackey.
It is unusual to call a five-year-old “exciting” but the William Longsword entire Dyce has twice made comebacks from lengthy breaks, the first 15 months and the second nearly nine months, and he has thus only had eleven career starts.
He made it win number five in the Listed Golden Loom Handicap over 1000m at Turffontein Standside on Saturday.
He showed his usual high cruising speed and high head carriage while sitting behind the pacey Mover And Shaker from a nice draw of six in the nine horse field.
He then sliced between horses afer switching outward won easing up by two lengths.
His merit rating of 106 proved to be inadequate and the NHA handicappers have raised him a whopping ten points to 116. This might be based on I Am Giant, whom he beat by four lengths, being used as the line horse. At a factor of 2.3 pounds per length over that distance he would get 9.2 points and the extra 0.8 to take it to ten has probably been awarded due to the ease of victory.
The 116 merit rating is still 14 short of the two highest rated sprinters in the land, Isivunguvungu and Gimme A Prince.
However, Lucky was surprised to hear of the ten horse raise, believing he would get six at the most. If I Am Giant was indeed the line horse he questioned whether he was a 1000m horse.
Although Dyce has some long term Gr 1 wfa targets, it must be remembered that there are only three Gr 1 wfa sprints during the year and the higher the merit rating the harder it is too both place and win with a horse in the in-between races.
Lucky said Dyce had pulled up very well from the race and said the Gr 1 Cape Flying Championship was on the agenda, but only as a raider, and he said he would not be going to Cape Town for the whole season. He said there were races for him in Jo’Burg before then.
Karel Miedema awarded Dyce a 103 Ability Rating for the win.
The three-year-old Fire Away filly Egyptian Mau made it a quick double for Houdalakis, Shawe and Zackey in the Gr 3 HSH Princess Charlene Starling Stakes over 1400m.
Zackey placed her beautifully on the rail from draw three in the ten horse field.
The long-striding bay was able to get a tow from the hot favourite White Pearl until just before the 400m mark and had mastered her by the 200m mark, making her run inside of the latter and down the centre of the track. When White Pearl, who had been touched off at level weights in her previous start by the champion Mrs Geriatrix, fought back Egyptian Mau found extra to repel her and beat her by 0,40 lengths.
Egyptian Mau was raised five points to 110.
Lucky said the Wikgerbosdrift Triple Tiara was always in the back of one’s mind for Egyptian Mau.
However, he said even though the pedigree suggested she would stay a trip, only a race ever told whether they did or not.
The Gr 3 Betway Fillies Mile on Betway Summer Cup day November 25 looks the obvious short term target for Egyptian Mau.
Habib's High Praise Of Zeus Materialises Into Impressive Win
Zeus cruises to his third easy win in succession (JC Photos).
Fabian Habib called the five-year-old Soft Falling Rain gelding Zeus the best he had ever trained in the build up to the Listed Allied Steelrode Java Stakes over 2400m on Saturday and he didn’t let him down.
Zeus came with an effortless finishing run from off the pace for a scintillating 5,25 length victory despite carrying joint topweight of 60kg together with Arumugam.
Regular pilot Gavin Lerena was aboard and his record on this horse improved to eleven rides and eight wins.
Zeus gave the runner up, the classy stayer Black Thorn, 2kg and a resounding beating.
Zeus, who lost his way last season and dropped from a 108 merit rating to a 94, has won all three of his starts this season over 2600m, 2400m and 2400m easily and has got better with each outing.
The question now is can he drop down in distance and be a force in races like the Gr 1 Betway Summer Cup over 2000m and the Gr 1 Hollywoodbets Durban July over 2200m?
He was merit rated 103 in Saturday’s race and it is not clear what his new merit rating will be but it would likely have had to increase significantly for him to stand a chance of getting into the Summer Cup.
Zeus was bred by W Nel and is owned by Tri-Deal Sixteen CC (Nom: Mr Z L Nassif), Messrs D Chinsammy, S Govender, J M Kalil, E Naicker, G J Nassif, J Nassif, G Stravino, L Stravino & P G Stravino.
Questioning Is Best 3YO In The Cape To Date
Questioning Lays Claim To Being Best 3YO In The Cape To Date (Picture: Wayne Marks)
At Hollywoodbets Durbanville yesterday (Sunday) the Vaughan Marshall-trained Questioning laid claim to being the best three-year-old to date in the powerful centre of Cape Town with an easy win in the Gr 3 Cape Classic over 1400m.
Ridden by Bernard Fayd’Herbe the Querari half-brother to Senso Unico jumped from draw three and found the rail in midfield.
Coming off a wide false rail he ran down the centre and had soon struck the front.
He was eased up before the line and yet still won by 1,75 lengths.
The homebred gelding owned by Mr A N Foster & The Hon Mrs G R Foster converted second favouritism of 33/10.
The whole field carried 1kg less than the lone topweight My Golly Molly, but the latter finished last.
Questioning was followed home by the Justin Snaith-trained 25/1 shot Snow Pilot (Lancaster Bomber), the 5/2 Dean Kannemeyer-trained favourite Green With Envy (Gimmethegreenlight) with the Brett Crawford-trained Zil Moris (Fire Away) and the Piet Steyn-trained Greeting My Master (Master Of My Fate) next best.
Questioning had them spread out like the washing so it looked to be a good performance. He is a scopey type too, so can improve as his likely big target, the Gr 1 Hollywoodbets cape Guineas, approaches.
“He has won with an exclamation mark,” said commentator Alistair Cohen.
However, according to racing analysts Karel Miedema he has some way to go to match the current best three-year-old in the land, Sandringham Summit.
Miedema awarded him a relatively paltry 98 Ability Rating, a whopping 19 points lower than Sandringham Summit’s AR in the Gr 3 Betway Graham Beck Stakes over the same distance of 1400m the previous day at the Big T.
Nevertheless, Questioning has won three from four, and his last three. He has done nothing wrong and can improve.
Gaynor Rupert homebred Now 25/1 For Epsom Derby After Gr 1 3rd
Ancient Wisdom wins the Gr 1 Kameko Futurity Trophy at Doncaster on Saturday with the Gaynor Rupert homebred God’s Window (near side) in third place (Photo: Alan Crowhurst (Racing Post))
The John and Thady Gosden-trained and Gaynor Rupert-homebred God’s Window finishes a highly encouraging third
Ancient Wisom will be ‘even better’ next year according to William Buick
1m Flat, Group 1
1st Ancient Wisdom
2nd Devil’s Point
3rd God’s Window
Ignore the prices. Seeing that the 5-4 favourite has won might make you think this was nothing out of the ordinary. Don’t you believe it.
Victory went to a horse hardly anybody thought would be in the field this time last week. His rider adopted tactics that not even connections expected, thanks to a freak incident in the stalls that caused the race to be run 15 minutes later and scored for a team that was getting out of the British Group 1 habit.
The one thing you can seemingly rely on is that the Kameko Futurity Trophy is a rich source of top-level three-year-olds. Each of the previous six winners went on to win at least one Group 1 race in his second season.
And that modern insight meant bookmakers were taking no chances with their latest successor, offering no better than 8-1 about him for the Betfred Derby.
That is Ancient Wisdom, the Godolphin colt Charlie Appleby said he would put away and wait for the Dante Stakes with after his impressive success in Group 3 company at Newmarket 14 days earlier.
A fortnight is a long time in racing and a trainer reserves the right to change his or her mind, particularly when the weather does not change and the ground remains soft enough to tempt a £17,500 supplementary entry on the Monday ahead of Britain’s last Group 1 of the season.
That might have looked something of a gamble from the stands, watching on as William Buick found himself in front on the market leader, with expected pacemaker Battle Cry not in the field after going down in the stalls and being withdrawn, causing the lengthy delay.
But Buick is not champion jockey for nothing. He judged things perfectly in the testing conditions and, setting no better than a steady pace, he refused to panic once headed inside the last three furlongs and conjured a strong late run out of his mount to lead again over a furlong out and win by a length and three-quarters.
It was Godolphin’s first Group 1 success in Britain since Modern Games in the Lockinge in May and first domestic juvenile Group 1 since Native Trail in the Dewhurst in 2021.
We couldn’t be more delighted,” said Appleby’s assistant Alex Merriam. “We thought Aidan’s other horse [Diego Velazquez] was going to go forward and when he wasn’t there Will did his own thing. We know he stays and the plan was always to be handy.
“Charlie always had this race slightly in the back of his mind but he wanted to see how the horse was, and he’s been pleasing him and we know he handles soft ground so we gave it a shot.”
Buick, winning the race for the first time, said: “It’s a very important race for next year and I was delighted with Ancient Wisdom. The plan wasn’t necessarily to make the running but it fell right and he’s a horse who’s very uncomplicated.
“If you go through the list of two-year-olds who’ve won this race, it bodes well for next year. I’m very much looking forward to him. He’s a beautiful horse to look at, he’s done nothing but strengthen all year. Another winter on his back will do him even better.
“It’s very heavy ground and horses take a lot of organising on it but when the others came to him I didn’t want to go for everything too soon, I wanted to try and build him up. It’s a long way up that straight for a two-year-old having to make the running but it suited him. He’s done nothing but improve every start this year. Credit to Charlie and the team for having the faith to supplement.”
Ffos Las winner Devil’s Point kept on to take second for David Menuisier, who said: “I’m thrilled, it’s a Group 1 and second is absolutely marvellous. He was travelling great on the ground. It’s pretty special.”
God’s Window was just a head further back in third and joint-trainer Thady Gosden said: “He was a little slowly away, that was understandable for a horse second time out with all that went on before but he was closest at the end and he was finishing well.
“It was a very encouraging performance, he’s a horse we hope has a bright future.”
Silent War Can Continue To Progress
Silent War wins going away on Saturday (JC Photos)
A horse who highlights how deflated Cape Town merit ratings are compared to the test of the country is the Tony Peter-trained Silent War.
This Gimmegreenlight five-year-old gelding arrived in Jo’Burg on Cape Town rated 75 and although it took him three runs to win that was only because he started off in three sprints, which is too sharp for him.
He has been stepped up in trip since that win over 1160m and has won three more times in comfortable fashion.
On Saturday in a MR 105 Handicap over 1600m at Turffontein Strandside he ran off a 93 merit rating and was drawn 12.
However, he looked like he had been dropped into the race in the race in the last 100m as he burst through the centre, coming from midfield, to win going away by 1,75 lengths under Calvin Habib.
Where will his progression stop?
Silent War was bred by Ridgemont Highlands and is owned by Messrs A Lang, D Yutar, I Levitan & L H Paletz.
Blue Peter winning the Epsom Derby in 1939
Whose athletic performance has improved the most over the last century or so, human athletes or thoroughbred racehorses?
National Library Of Medicine (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/) 2009 report
David S Gardner
In 2006 Barbaro won the first race of the American Triple Crown, The Kentucky Derby, in 2.01.36 min. 110 years earlier the same race was won by Ben Brush in 2.07.00 min. The current record for The Kentucky Derby, still standing, was set by Secretariat in 1973 in a time of 1.59.00. Therefore the winning time for the Kentucky Derby has reduced by only 6-8 secs overall, representing a marginal improvement of 4% since the turn of the 20th Century. For the Epsom Derby, the improvement is slightly greater with a reduction of 25 secs between 1846 and 2006 (Pyrrhus the First, 2.55 min to Sir Percy, 2.35.23 min), but representing an improvement of only 11% in 160 years of organised racing. In comparison, for man, the statute mile record – arguably the historical benchmark track and field event – stands at 3.43.00 min (Hicham El Guerrouj in 1999). The first recorded and officially timed mile was won by Charles Westhall in 1852 in a time of 4.28 min. Thus, the mens mile record has reduced by 45 secs, over 147 years; an improvement of 17%. Therefore a common feature of modern horse races and human athletic contests is that winning times are faster now than in the distant past, but it is the difference in gradual improvement between the two that is of interest in this study.
Specifically, the change in performance for both man and horse over the last 50 years is particularly interesting. Since the 1950’s, when Emil Zàtopek (1952 Olympic marathon champion) introduced the concept of ‘interval training’ and Roger Bannister broke the 4 min mile (1954) there has been an explosion of knowledge in the areas of nutrition, exercise physiology, technology and performance aids and in the practical application of that knowledge, for example in clothing refinements. Hence for the current study I have examined the timed historical data for a number of elite flat races on different surfaces and different continents together with contemporaneous human data in similarly elite track and field events and have examined the relationships between recorded winning time with year from the first recorded data to the current year. It is pertinent however, that whereas human athletes attempt to achieve the best possible times in almost every race, except perhaps the marathon; the jockeys, trainers and owners of racehorses are more concerned about winning per se, regardless of time; thus race tactics can influence the winning time in horse races more so than human athletic contests. Also given other external variables that can affect winning times in horse races such as position in the stalls, track conditions, jockey skill; more so than in human athletic contests, then it seems likely that human winning times will improve more regularly than horse winning times. In this study, the change in winning times in elite races in both species are presented and rates of improvement compared prior to and after the 1950’s.
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