Strawberry Bear led in by Sterling Miller (left) and Tony Jelinski (right) with Tristan Godden up (Picture: Candiese Lenferna).
Hong Kong’s loss is KZN ‘s gain as Strawberry Bear remained in training with Mike Miller at Summerveld after a sale to the East Asian island fell through and he has subsequently won the Grade 3 Byerley Turk over 1400m at Hollywoodbets Greyville, downing a couple of big horses.
The apparently big offer fell through after the quarantine requirements were checked, as it would have taken the good-looking grey eight or nine months to reach Hong Kong.
In the Byerley Turk the Flying The Flag gelding led from start to finish under the Miller yard’s new stable jockey Tristan Godden, narrowly beating the ruling Hollywoodbets Durban July favourite Cousin Casey and the Grade 1 SA Classic runner up Jimmy Don.
He was receiving 6kg from Cousin Casey, but was only receiving half-a-kilogram from Jimmy Don if the latter’s overweight-carried is taken into account.
Strawberry Bear was raised seven points to a merit rating of 106.
Joint-owner, Mike Miller’ son and assistant Sterling Miller, said there were two or three options for Strawberry Bear.
The Grade 1 Golden Horse Sprint is one of them.
He proved in his previous start he is effective over the Hollywoodbets Scottsville 1200m with an easy 2,40 length win over the touted Franz Lehar (Querari), despite receiving only half-a-kilogram.
Confirmation of how impressive that win was is that Franz Lehar’s owners were the ones who made the offer on Strawberry Bear i.e. David Ferraris and Hong Kong-based CW Hui.
The downside of targeting the Golden Horse is that he will go into the race under sufferance, because the bottom weight under the otherwise handicap conditions of the race is 54kg these days.
Even if last year’s highest merit rating of 120 is used that would mean off a 106, and presuming the 120 rated horse is an older horse, he would go into the race 2kg under sufferance. However, the top rated runner is looking likely to be rated higher than 120 this season.
A better option from the weight point of view would be the Grade 2 Post Merchants over 1200m on Hollywoodbets Durban July day.
Sterling said a mile is likely too far for Strawberry Bear, although he did point out that in his only attempt at it he was still an entire and there was a filly in the race.
However, he said he might get away with a mile in the KZN Breeders Million Mile as the field is unlikely to be too strong. So that is another option.
Whichever, option he chooses Strawberry Bear will have plenty of supporters due to his good looks, and the infectious enthusiasm that both he and joint-owner Tony Jelinski have for racing.