By Sarah Whitelaw
King of Pain pulled a 40-1 upset when he landed the Rising Sun Gold Challenge (SAf-I) June 7 at Clairwood Park in Durban, South Africa.
In winning 1,600-meter (about one mile) contest, King of Pain earned the first group I victory of his career and earned a likely spot in next month's Vodacom Durban July (SAf-I).
Betting for the Gold Challenge was dominated by champion mare Beach Beauty as well as Yorker and Capetown Noir, the respective winner and runner-up in the recent Horse Chestnut Stakes (SAf-I).
Capetown Noir, who won arguably South Africa's premier 1,600-meter race, the L'Ormarins Queen's Plate (SAf-I), earlier this year, was eventually sent off 8-5 favorite ahead of this season's triple group I winner winner Yorker and recent Drill Hall Stakes (SAf-II) winner Beach Beauty.
Flashy gray gelding King of Pain, who was drawn wide in post 10, jumped well and was immediately sent to the front by jockey Bernard Fayd'Herbe. Setting slow fractions, the pair strode clear of longshot Silver Age and former Vodacom Durban July winner Pomodoro. Yorker and Beach Beauty disputed fourth place, ahead of Capetown Noir, with Pomodoro's stablemate Whiteline Fever further back in the running.
King of Pain was still clear at the top of the straight, and Fayd'Herbe elected to take his mount toward the outside rail. Both Beach Beauty and Yorker ran on strongly, but neither ever looked like getting on terms with the winner, who held on to register a three-quarter-length triumph from Beach Beauty (runner-up for the second year in a row), with Yorker a length away in third.
The final time for the Gold Challenge was 1:35.45.
Capetown Noir was never a threat and finished a well-beaten fourth.
Unfortunately, Jet Explorer clipped heels and fell at the 1,200-meter mark, unseating jockey Richard Fourie in the process. It was later reported that the gelding had broken his jaw.
Fayd'Herbe is well acquainted with King of Pain, having ridden the gelding in 13 of his 20 career outings. Fayd'Herbe said in a post-race interview that he felt he had the race won at the top of the Clairwood straight.
It was a third win successive win in the Gold Challenge for King of Pain's trainer Joey Ramsden, who sent out former charge Variety Club to win in 2012 and 2013 before the two-time South African Horse of the Year embarked on a successful international campaign.
Ramsden, who was at Epsom Downs June 7, said King of Pain had a foot injury that prevented him racing prior to the Gold Challenge, but added his runner had always been a good horse and benefited from Fayd'Herbe's ride. King of Pain entered off a win in the inaugural Magnum Mile Feb. 15 at Kenilworth.
Bred by the Arc-En-Ciel Stud, King of Pain was one of two stakes winners on the day for his sire, the Zabeel horse Greys Inn. The latter, a former South African champion and Vodacom Durban July winner, was also responsible for Saturday's listed Gatecrasher Stakes winner Forries Waltz.
Out of the Defensive Play mare Viva La Belle, King of Pain has won seven of his 20 starts, with his earlier victories including scores in the Selangor Cup (SAf-II) and Langerman (SAf-II). However, prior to Saturday's big race win, King of Pain failed to win a top-level race in four other attempts and had one of the lower official ratings in Saturday's 14-horse field.