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Leading Highveld trainer Paul Peter admitted he still could not trust Reunion (Flower Alley), despite his two fine comeback wins. Meanwhile Catch Twentytwo is at the yard of Jane Chapple-Hyam at Newmarket in England and Sprinkles and others are being readied for Classic Day on March 5.
Peter said he hoped the much hyped gelding Reunion was on his way to fulfilling his potential but added cautiously, “I am not trusting him to do so though because he has disappointed us so often!”
He said the hype had stemmed from his terrific action and excellent homework but added, “But even in the mornings in those early days he blew hot and cold, although gelding did help.”
Reunion won from the front on Saturday but Peter elaborated, “He is horse you don’t want to fight because he can then begin to over-race. However, he does have a fine turn of foot and has won from off the pace under Gavin (Lerena) a couple of times. His problem though is he doesn’t like a dogfight. But he is maturing mentally. We normally had to hose him down three or four times at the races but he is now more settled.”
The big horse won with authority in two successive races in June and July last year and appeared to have turned the corner. However, he followed those runs with two dismal efforts and the hype fizzled out again.
Peter said, “He is a late bloomer and has always been inquisitive, so loses focus quickly.”
Therefore, he was laid off for four months and his routine was changed.
He was given a number of different tasks with the aim of making him feel more secure and to help him focus.
He was put on to the treadmill and spent a lot of time in the horse walker and he also did some jumping. Little jumps are a good way to help a horse focus.
He looks to be back on track but the acid test will be when an opponent ranges alongside him and looks him in the eye because he won those last two races relatively comfortably.
WSB Dingaans winner Catch Twentytwo (Elusive Fort) was sent on an overseas mission by his owners, who consist of the ASSM Racing Syndicate and Ian Levitan. The ASSM Racing syndicate’s nominee is Arun Chadha and one of the chief members is Warne Rippon, who was a part-owner of Sun Classique (Fuji Kiseki), so it is not surprising they targeted Dubai. Sun Classique’s three runs in Dubai for three wins, including the US$5 million Dubai Sheema Classic, saw her becoming the highest earning filly in SA history, a status she still holds.
Catch Twentytwo deserved to be given a crack at the big money overseas as his sequence following the Dingaans was victory in the Grade 3 Tony Ruffel, second and third in the first two legs of the WSB SA Triple Crown, then two respective seconds to Rainbow Bridge in the Grade 2 IOS Drill Hall and the Grade 1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge, followed by a second to Jet Dark in the Grade 1 HKJC World Pool Champions Cup.
Unfortunately, he underwent a delay in the Mauritius leg of his journey so was never going to make it to Dubai in time for this season.
However, he is doing well and has impressed Chapple-Hyam in his workouts, so might run in the UK soon.
The big gelding would have strengthened as a four-year-old so is the type who might be able to handle the UK’s testing conditions.
The filly Sprinkles (Elusive Fort) has been following in Catch Twentytwo’s footsteps having won the Grade 3 Three Troikas Stakes, always run on the same day as the Tony Ruffel, and then finishing second in the Grade 2 Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas (GFG).
Peter said she had come out of that last race “exceptionally well.”
He describes her as “very decent” and one who had been highly thought of even before she had raced.
She is now undergoing a lot of muscle maturation as she gets older and Peter thinks she will be suited to the 1800m trip of the Grade 1 Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic to be run on March 5.
He will be going in to that race “quietly confident” she can turn the tables on GFG winner Rain In Holland (Duke Of Marmalade).
Big Burn (Elusive Fort) and Smorgasbord (Twice Over) have landed wide draws for the Grade 2 Hawaii Stakes and he said he would probably not run them.
Stable star MK’s Pride (Willow Magic) has landed an even wider draw but Peter knows him to be tough enough to handle it. Off his 123 merit rating he is also the best weighted horse in the race.
Peter will also run Freed From Desire (Jackson), a courageous filly who keeps on defying the handicapper with narrow wins. She followed a win in her seasonal reappearance with a narrow second and then won four on the trot including beating Big Burn last time out in the Listed Swallow Stakes over 1160m, albeit when receiving 3kg. Jackson’s influence will help her get the 1400m although her Trippi dam won only once and was never tried beyond 1000m.
Peter’s best runner on the day could be Shangani (Soft Falling Rain) in the Listed Aquanaut over 2400m.
He said, “He is a very decent stayer and is drawn one. The pace did not suit him last time, they went at a canter and he got caught further back than we would have liked. He is has come on from that run and is a massive runner.”
Green Haze (Gimmethegreenlight) is also in that race and having beaten Shangani by a short-head last time is now 1.5kg worse off and widely drawn.
Picture: REUNION (JC Photos).