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S’Manga Khumalo victorious on the Sean Tarry-trained Bless My Stars in the Grade 1 Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic (Candiese Lenferna).


Sean Tarry has an affinity for Classic Day at Turffontein Standside and landed his fourth Grade 1 Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic on Saturday with the Gimmethegreenlight filly Bless My Stars ridden by S’Manga Khumalo.

Tarry had three other victories on the day, including in the Grade 2 WSB Hawaii Stakes.

He will now be targeting Bless My Stars at the Grade 2 Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks. 

Tarry’s previous successes in the SA Fillies Classic came with Rain In Holland last year, Return Flight in 2019 and Siren’s Call in 2015. 

That makes it five Grade 1s on Classic Day overall for the five-times national champion trainer, because he has also won the WSB SA Classic once with French Navy in 2015.

He has now won 65 Grade 1s in all.

Tarry said the Guineas meeting seemed to come too soon every year, coming hard on the heels of WSB Met day in Cape Town, and his horses always improved into Classic Day.

Bless My Stars at 10/1 was a big price in hindsight.

She was badly hampered late in the Grade 2 Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas when finishing a 2,75 length sixth, which could have easily been third.

Tarry was not only convinced she would improve over the 1800m trip, but she was now also going to be drawn in pole.

Bless My Stars is bred in the purple, being by a champion sire out of the Silvano Grade 1 Majorca winner Star Express.

Varsfontein Stud would likely have been disappointed to see her going for just R250,000 at the BSA National Yearling Sale of 2021.

It was an astute purchase by Kenneth Pillay’s Kestorm Investments.

She was originally trained by Paul Peter and under his guidance won on debut over 1400m by 6,25 lengths before finishing a 0,35 length third in the Grade 1 Thekwini Stakes over 1600m, where she was hampered on the line.

She won second time out for Tarry over 1600m before disappointing in the Grade 3 Fillies Mile, running unplaced.

She ran third in the Grade 3 Three Troikas Stakes over 1400m before her unlucky run in the Gauteng Fillies Guineas.

Khumalo had her handy on Saturday in the box seat behind pacemaker None Other.

He followed the latter in the straight until switching in and hitting the front.

Feather Boa challenged strongly on her outside and with both fillies hanging inward away from the whip, Bless My Stars got up by a short-head.     

Tarry also won the Grade 2 Hawaii with the Summerhill Stud-bred Capetown Noir filly Under Your Spell, who was ridden by Louis Mxothwa.

It was an impressive win, not only because she beat the boys.

Wearing her customary compression hood she did not over race at all despite being caught three wide in the running after jumping from a tricky draw of eight out of 13.

She then showed her usual turn of foot to win by a cosy 1,50 lengths from the Grade 1 winner Red Saxon.

She is now likely being targeted at the Grade 1 HSH Princess Charlene Empress Club Stakes.

Tarry’s other two wins on Saturday were with the Varsfontein-bred Gimmethegreenlight first-timer two-year-old colt Lucky Lad, who impressed in the Beck colours considering he was slowly away, and the three-year-old Drakenstein Stud-bred Dynasty gelding Jet Dynasty, who came from an impossible looking position to get up at the fourth-time of asking in a 1600m maiden. 
The stable jockey question for the Tarry yard is up in the air at the moment with Calvin Habib having recently moved to Singapore.
Tarry and Khumalo were at one stage a formidable combination, but Tarry pointed out that there was nothing new about S’Manga’s association with Bless My Stars, so Saturday’s success was not necessarily a renewal of that partnership.
He said the position was up for grabs and could go to any jockey who was prepared to put in the work, although the five-times national champion trainer will obviously demand good results.