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Gr1 Daily News 2000: KZN Strong Hand

Varsfontein-bred son of Mogok, Pagoda. Image: JC Photos
Varsfontein-bred son of Mogok, Pagoda. Image: JC Photos

Geoff Woodruff’s Grade 1 Daily News 2000 entry Pagoda arrived at Summerveld on Wednesday night looked to have travelled well. The five-times champion trainer lamented his bad luck with draws in Durban this season and his pair of horses he brought down were the latest to be “drawn out in the bush”.

Mogok gelding Pagoda is currently in 15th place on the Vodacom Durban July log and Woodruff aims to “pop him into the July” with a low weight. He clarified, “The Daily News is always a tough race for the Johannesburg horses because they have just come off a long, hard season and it is more a race to keep the horses going for the July and also to show them the course.”

He reckoned Pagoda was a July type of a horse and the big race had always been his target. He said, “He is small and neat and has a nice turn of foot. If you have a three-year-old coming into the July with 53kg or 54kg you know you are in the hunt.”

Pagoda would, as things currently stand, have to carry 53kg. However, off his 101 merit rating he would be 2kg under sufferance. Last time out in the Grade 1 SA Derby over 2450m on the tough Turffontein Standside track, Pagoda was running close up to the eventual winner Al Sahem midway through the race when an incident caused him to be shuffled right to the back.

Woodruff said, “That was not the plan at all, but Gavin (Lerena) had him on the rail and he became caught in a box behind a slowing horse.” Pagoda then ran on strongly from last to finish a 1,75 length second. Woodruff said realistically Pagoda might have finished closer, but doubted he could have won the race. He also felt realistically Pagoda would not be able to reverse form on Saturday with Al Sahem facing him at level weights again.

As things stand, Pagoda will receive 0,5kg from Al Sahem in the July. However, if the latter converts favouritism on Saturday the weight differential might change significantly.

In his penultimate start Pagoda was reminiscent of one of the best Mogok’s, The Apache, in that he crept up steadily in the straight until the 300m mark and then when Lerena pressed the button he kicked impressively and went away from the field to win by 3,3 lengths. Chase Maujean replaces the now England-based Lerena and will have to negotiate a number ten draw in a twelve horse field.

Mogok has produced Gr1 winners The Apache, Gypsy’s Warning, Wild One and Orbison to date. Look out for more of his progeny at the upcoming KZN Yearling Sale.

Glider Pilot at the Ready To Run Gallops - the grey is a son of AP Arrow and a half-brother to last years Gr1 winner, Rabada. Image: Candiese Marnewick
Glider Pilot at the Ready To Run Gallops – the grey is a son of AP Arrow and a half-brother to last years Gr1 winner, Rabada. Image: Candiese Marnewick

Tyrone Zackey has an interesting runner in the Gr 1 Daily News 2000 in the Summerhill-bred A P Arrow gelding Glider Pilot, who is a half-brother to last year’s winner of this race Rabada.

Zackey bought the rangy gelding for owners Kevin and Nadine Backos, his son-in-law and daughter respectively, and Sheddy Habib at a dispersal sale of the late Adriaan van Vuuren.

He said, “That’s why we could not nominate him for a while (red tape relating to Van Vuuren’s frozen assets). The horse did not show me much in the beginning, I think he was a bit out of work, but he then started running equal with his companions and then he started putting some distance between himself and them. He wasn’t working with champions, but then I put him up against a horse who had won a race and after that gallop decided to nominate him.”

It was unusual to see a horse making its debut over 2000m and the race was also run at just after seven o’ clock in the evening. Nevertheless, Glider Pilot was backed from 40/1 into 10/1. The wild cheering from the nearby Zackey box could be heard during the commentary as Glider Pilot got the better of the 16/10 favourite Starpath to win by 0,8 lengths.

Zackey continued, “The rest of the field were more than ten lengths back and I thought well he can’t be bad. And then Starpath came out and won too. So I nominated him for a handicap over the same distance at the Vaal.”

On this occasion he was beaten 1,9 lengths into third. However, Zackey was impressed by two facets of the race.

Firstly, the winner of the race was the five-year-old Amsterdam and the runner up was Jubilee Line. Amsterdam had finished second in the Gr 1 SA Classic as a three-year-old and had consequently been bought out of the Paul Peter yard, ironically by Adriaan van Vuuren, while Jubilee Line has always been highly regarded and was a Vodacom Durban July entry this year. Secondly, Glider Pilot had produced a late surge.

Zackey said, “He wasn’t balanced and he couldn’t get on to the other foot, that comes with inexperience, but when he did he caught the eye.” Zackey now believed he had a horse of some potential.

He said, “Greyville is a tricky course for an inexperienced horse. But we have got a ticket and are going to come down to Durban and have some fun. He can run a little, but whether he can compete with all of those horses who clearly have Gr 1 potential I don’t know, so if he runs a place I will be very happy.”

An interesting form-line for Glider Pilot comes through Hamaan. He received 2kg from the current Daily News third-favourite Pagoda in the Derby Trial over 2000m and was beaten 5,3 lengths. In Glider Pilot’s last start he gave Hamaan 2,5kg and a short-head beating.

Glider Pilot thus has close to five lengths to find with Pagoda on paper, but it should be born in mind that last start on May 11 was only the second of his career, so he is not just there to make up the numbers. He has been priced up a 50/1 shot by the bookmakers and will be ridden by Zackey’s high-flying nephew, Craig Zackey, who is lying in sixth place on the National Jockey’s log.

Glider Pilot and Rabada’s dam recently sold for R800 000 off Summerhill’s Mare and Weanling sale, in foal to Capetown Noir.


Africa Rising is the last of the three KZN-breds represented in the Gr1 Daily News 2000, which was won last year by Summerhill-bred son of Brave Tin Soldier, Rabada.

The Sean Tarry-trained son of Visionaire is a winner of the Gr3 Byerley Turk at Greyville over 1400m. He has won three times from nine starts and placed three times, including in a Gr1 just a length off Gunner, and four lengths off William Longsword in the Cape Guineas.

Out of Braashee mare Sucha Looka, he is a half-brother to three other winners.

-extract goldcircle.co.za

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