By Sarah Whitelaw
Promising Silvano colt Tellina ran out a convincing winner of the Bettingworld Gauteng Guineas (SAf-II) at Turffontein in South Africa March 2.
The Guineas is the first leg of the South African Triple Crown, a series for 3-year-olds comprised of the Guineas, SA Classic (SAf-I), and SA Derby (SAf-i).
The Triple Crown, sponsored by SASCOC, has a bonus of two million rand (US$219,944) for any horse able to complete the treble.
Saturday’s R1,000,000 Guineas (US$109,997) was a wide open race, which saw Tellina and Francois Bernardus vie for favoritism ahead of promising Jet Master colt Alexandra Palace, recent stakes winner Love Struck, and last season’s group I-winning juvenile War Horse.
Donnie Brasco made the early running, ahead of the likes of Swift And Strong and No Worries, with the fancied Love Struck and War Horse well off the pace. The eventual winner, Tellina, was last through much of the race and had a wide trip under jockey Robbie Fradd.
With 400 meters left, the Guineas was anyone’s race, with a line of eight horses in contention. The stampede included Killua Castle, Sabadell, Gitiano, and War Horse, but Tellina produced a sustained finish from the back of the field to run down his rivals.
The eventual winning margin was three parts of a length, second place going to War Horse, with the winner’s stablemate Killua Castle (who had injured his jockey in the canter past), a short head further away in third. Less than two lengths covered the first five home.
Fradd, who had been bullish about the winner during the week leading up to the race, was euphoric in victory. A dual winner of the country’s premier race, the July Handicap (SAf-I), Fradd admitted to pleading with owner Terry Young to keep the mount in the Guineas after scoring a facile win on the colt in his Guineas trial.
The 1600-meter race proved a tremendous triumph for the Geoff Woodruff stable, who saddled both the winner, and third home, Killua Castle.
With his father Geoff away in Australia, son Tim was overwhelmed with the victory by a colt who has been described as colty and temperamental at home.
Bred by Maine Chance Farms in Cape Province, SA, Tellina is owned by Terry Young in partnership with Geoff Woodruff. He was a R210,000 (US$23,099) purchase at the 2011 Emperors Palace National Yearling Sales.
He is another major stakes winner for 2001 Arlington Million (gr. IT) winner Silvano (Lomitas). The Maine Chance stallion is also sire of the 2013 J&B Met winner, Martial Eagle.
Tellina is out of the Irish bred mare Tachina (Spectrum), whose second dam is group III winner Tadwiga. This is the family of European champion Old Vic.
Saturday also saw the running of the R500,000 (US$54,998) Fillies Guineas (SAf-II), sponsored by Mary Slack’s Wilgerbosdrift Stud for the first time.
The Fillies Guineas is the first leg of the Triple Tiara, a series for 3-year-old fillies with a bonus of R1,000,000 to any filly who can sweep the treble of the Guineas, SA Fillies Classic (SAf-I) and SA Oaks (SAf-I). The only horse to have accomplished the sweep thus was Igugu, victorious in 2011.
The race saw the downfall of hot favorite, and previously undefeated Espumanti. The Dansili filly, who is six months behind her Southern Hemisphere-bred rivals, had won her previous three starts in facile fashion for the powerful Mike de Kock stable, who made no secret of the high regard they held her in.
Espumanti, owned by race’s sponsor, was sent off a 4-5 choice for the 1,600-meter classic ahead of Cherry on The Top and Fire Wheel at 7-1, with the remainder of the field sent out at odds of 8-1 and better.
However she failed to make the first three, with the contest falling to the talented Cherry on The Top, widely regarded as the pick of the paddock before the race.
A magnificent looking filly, Cherry on The Top was piloted by Nooresh Juglall to a 2 1/4-length success over outsider Do You Remember. Last season’s leading 2-year-old filly, King’s Temptress, was back in third ahead of a disappointing Espumanti.
Trained by veteran trainer Ormond Ferraris, Cherry OnThe Top won her first three starts, before losing two in a row. She then captured the Fillies Mile (SAf-III) to stamp herself as a leading filly of her generation.
Cherry On The Top is owned by her breeder Bridget Oppenheimer, widely regarded as the First Lady of the South African turf. Oppenheimer’s daughter Mary owned the beaten favorite.
The winner is by Wilgerbosdrift’s resident sire Tiger Ridge, a Storm Cat half brother to A P Indy and Summer Squall. Tiger Ridge enjoyed an excellent day as another daughter, Amur Affair, lifted the Acacia Handicap (SAf-III), on a day which saw the running of five feature races. His son, the Wilgerbosdrift bred and owned Kavanagh, went on to win in Dubai on the same day.
Cherry on The Top, whose dam, Carolina Cherry, won the Gold Circle Oaks (SAf-II), has now won six of her nine starts and over R700,000 (US$76,997). She is likely to run next in the SA Fillies Classic March 30.