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Charles Dickens proves his superiority in the Gr 1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge and KZN racing fans will hoping to see more of him in the Gr 1 Hong Kong World Pool Champions Cup on Gold Cup day (Candiese Lenferna Photography).


(NB Article was written before it was announced Charles Dickens would not race again this season) 

South African racing appears to be on an upward trend and fittingly it has coincided with a superstar racehorse in the Candice Bass-Robinson-trained Drakenstein Stud homebred Charles Dickens.

Aldo Domeyer revealed in the winners enclosure after Saturday’s Gr 1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge that his nerves disappear the moment he mounts the brilliant Trippi colt.

Charles Dickens’ explosive turn of foot is his key asset and Domeyer now knows how to use it to its maximum.

In the Gold Challenge it was noticeable that Domeyer free-wheeled all the way to the 300m mark and such is Charles Dickens cruising speed that this allowed him to join his stablemate Trip Of Fortune in front. Domeyer then just shook the reins at him which saw him changing up a gear. However, it was only at about the 150m mark he delivered the first smack which saw him accelerating away from the dangerous looking Zapatillas.

He won the Gr 2 WSB Guineas in similar fashion.  

Al Muthana showed he is not a twice Gr 1 wfa Mile winner for nothing and was closing in late on Saturday, having come from near the back on the outside. He finished just 1,40 lengths back in second.

However, Charles Dickens had exacted revenge for his L’Ormarins King’s Plate defeat to Al Muthana.

Domeyer looks to have learnt how to extract the maximum performance from Charles Dickens.

Reserving that explosive turn of foot for as late in the day as possible was seen on Saturday and is likely the way he will be ridden in the future.

It is not a risky move because his high cruising speed enables him to get to the front, or close to it, anyway.

It would be risky to use that turn of foot too early as he probably does not have the longest run in once he has been unleashed. 

He did need his key asset on Saturday, but there might be the odd race where it is not needed.

But what a luxury to have that explosive acceleration in  reserve!

Mark Bass, brother of Candice Bass-Robinson and who plays an important role in the running of the yard, said, “I think what makes him special is his terrific leg speed and the way he gets down and gallops.”

Charles Dickens has usurped Pocket Power as the greatest horse ever trained by the Bass family, who have been training thoroughbreds at the highest level for 50 years.

She said, “He is a completely different horse to Pocket Power, who had longevity and was also a brilliant horse. We have never had a horse before who can turn it on like he does, he is phenomenal to watch and gives you a feeling that no other horse will be able to give you.”

Charles Dickens has made a big impact on SA racing and among the potential converts to racing because of him is apparently Johann Rupert, husband of Charles Dickens’ breeder and owner, Gaynor Rupert of Drakenstein Stud.

Aldo Domeyer said in his post race interview Mr Rupert had been starting to follow racing because of Charles Dickens.

Charles Dickens has been a life-changing horse for Domeyer himself and he said in the post-race interview, “It looked like I was ready to throw in the towel when this horse came around and changed everything for me.” 

The day of horses being household names in SA are long gone, so it was refreshing driving back from Hollywoodbets Greyville on Saturday to hear Charles Dickens mentioned on East Coast radio, who were broadcasting live from Holywoodbets Greyville on Saturday.  
Charles Dickens was given his name by Gaynor Rupert. 
The first progeny of the dam Demanding Lady was called Charles and the next two were named Somerset Maugham and Steinbeck after literary stalwarts that Gaynor admires.
Charles Dickens was thus an appropriate choice.
Gaynor is obviously an aficionado of literature and delivered one particularly impactful quote after Saturday’s race. 
She said one always had to prepare oneself for a big race like this because “one might go home and ‘it is the winter of despair’” (which is part of one of Charles Dickens’ greatest quotes starting with the words “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …”
However, for Rupert and connections Saturday was one of the best of times.
Will Charles Dickens be seen in the Gr 1 Hong Kong World Pool Champions Cup?
Racing fans will be hoping he tells the connections, through his recovery process this week, that he wants one more race.
One can almost hear the fans beseeching, “Please Sir, we want some more.”