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Tough Terrain clinches a four-timer for the Justin Snaith/Grant van Niekerk Partnership (Picture: Wayne Marks)

Graeme Hawkins (Gold Circle)

Dark Winter got favourite backers off to a flying start at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth yesterday with a comfortable victory over the well-bred newcomer Tuscan Romance who drifted out to 25/1 before the start. Trained by Justin Snaith and ridden by Grant Van Niekerk, Dark Winter looked hard to oppose on paper and she duly obliged for Owner-Breeders Drakenstein Stud.

Tuscan Romance is clearly one for the notebook and the same comment applies to debutantes White Waters and Miss Argonaut who completed the Quartet. Sorceress Supreme was a touch disappointing in fifth placing and should prove capable of better going forward.

Lightly raced Lightning Glow showed further improvement from his recent maiden success to run out a narrow winner of the second race to give the Snaith/Van Niekerk combination a quickfire double. The well supported Luce Verde was running on strongly at the line to get within half-a-length of the winner and his second career victory cannot be too far away. Pace-setter Fly Futura stayed on nicely to complete the Trifecta, but Marshall Field was very one-paced and appears to have trained off.

The Adam Marcus stable has been in good form and Hampstead Heath was not winning out of turn when taking out the third race, a Maiden Plate (F&M) over 1600m. Plum Pudding went clear approaching the final 200m but Hampstead Heath quickened well from off the pace under Bernard Fayd’herbe and the daughter of Rafeef gradually gained the upper hand to win going away with more than a length to spare. Plum Pudding kept on well to fill the Exacta position with Saint Brigid making some late headway for third.

Four Jacks appeared to have the best credentials in the opening leg of the Pick 6 and attracted good support from 6/1 into 33/10. The race was run a strong pace and Four Jacks came from some way back with a sustained run in the stretch to hold out the improving Tsunami Warning, giving Snaith and Van Niekerk their third winner of the afternoon. Tsunami Warning relished the step up in trip and the Kannemeyer-trained son of Danon Platina should shed his maiden ticket in the near future.

Time for Love was seeking a hattrick of wins when lining up in the fifth race, the Cape B Stakes over 1800m, but in a thrilling finish she was gunned down late by the fast-finishing Katsu with Prevalence a close third. Time For Love and Prevalence locked horns approaching the final 400m but all the while Katsu was making huge gains under JP van der Merwe and the Louis The King gelding got up close home to win a good race for trainer Lucinda Woodruff.

A successful Hobday operation has transformed Aspect from an ordinary maiden into a useful looking handicapper and the Global View gelding secured back-to-back victories when going start to finish in Race 6, the Cape C Stakes over 1400m. Allowed to jump away at 16/1, Aspect made every inch of the running and was never in danger of defeat. He was chased home by Master of Paris and Le Legionnaire with Kelp Forest a rather disappointing fourth. The latter moved up dangerously approaching the final 200m but never went through with his effort and became very one-paced in the closing stages.

This column’s selection for the seventh race, Fly To Rio, was allowed to start at 12/1 but she delivered after narrowly getting the better of a protracted struggle with F Eight over the final 300m. Queen Bomi ensured a solid early gallop but gave way early in the home straight as F Eight and Fly To Rio came forward to dispute the finish. The result was in the balance until the last few strides when Keanen Steyn extracted that little bit extra from the daughter of Pomodoro to get the verdict in a driving finish.

Snaith and Van Niekerk notched up their fourth victory in the 8th race over 1000m when Tough Terrain came through late to grab The Abdicator in the shadow of the post. Craig Zackey opted to give The Abdicator a chance by settling off the early speed, rather than blazing a trail, and the change of tactics look destined to succeed when The Abdicator moved up strongly between horses inside the last 200m. But just as The Abdicator poked his nose in front Van Niekerk produced Tough Terrain with a well-timed challenge to score narrowly in a blanket finish. King Of The Gauls and Nordic Chief completed the frame with only half-a-length covering the top four.

After drawing a rare blank at Turffontein on Saturday, Richard Fourie had to wait until the final race at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth yesterday to record his 196th win of the Season. Riding Hear My Voice for trainer Paul Reeves, the daughter of Captain Of All finished strongly to collar Swift Action inside the last 50 metres with Wordsworth and On Board rounding out the Quartet.