The long awaited R500 000 WSB Grand Series Leg 1 finally got its moment in a rare dash of sunlight at Turffontein on Saturday and produced a classic grandstand finish.
Having his first ride since a return from injury, super sub Marco van Rensburg took over from Diego De Gouveia and rode an inspired race to get Stuart Pettigrew’s consistent 4yo Soldier On home to beat the gallant Dan The Lad (Fransie Herholdt) by the proverbial whisker.
Owned and bred by avid Pettigrew supporter Terry Kung, Soldier On started a well supported tote place favourite and saved many Pick 6 punters as the 40-1 Dan The Lad forced the photo finish.
The two came together at the 250m marker after Sail For Joy, who had done the donkey work, starter to wither.
In a terrific drive to the line, Van Rensburg showed cheek and saluted at the wire to indicate that Soldier On had done enough. His official time was 88,81 seconds on turf softened by a drizzle earlier.
Dan The Lad, who had tracked the leader, ran a gallant second from his awful draw under the experienced Herholdt, who leaves shortly for a four-month contract in South Korea.
Lake Kinneret was a solid further half length back in third, with Sail For Joy showing courage to hang in for fourth.
The 7-2 favourite Divine Odyssey was run off his feet and ran a two length sixth.
The last horse to earn was the tenth placed Chepardo (4,45 lengths) who banked R5000 for his efforts.
Bred by Terry Kung, Soldier On is a son of Brave Tin Soldier (Storm Cat) out of the unraced Australian-bred Rockabye Girl (Southern Image).
A winner of 4 races with 5 places from 11 starts, Soldier On took his stakes earnings to R572 650.
Brave Tin Soldier has been relocated to Jill Fox’s The Fort Stud. He is the sire of two Gr1 winners Rabada (who stands his first season at his place of birth, Summerhill Stud) and French export Brave Mary.