By Sarah Whitelaw
The Mike Bass-trained Fly By Night won the Mercury Sprint (SAf-I) at Clairwood Park July 12, and in the process became the second filly in a row to win Kwa-Zulu Natal’s premier weight-for-age sprint.
The race was won by the gray filly All Is Secret in 2013.
It is the final time that the Mercury Sprint will be run at Clairwood Park, with the track set for closure this year. The Mercury Sprint was the final feature race ever to be run at Clairwood, and will in the future be contested at either Greyville or Scottsville.
Fly By Night, who was beaten narrowly into second place two starts back in the South Africa Fillies Sprint (SAf-I), was a strong third choice for the 1,200-meter (about six-furlong) race, starting at odds of 9-2. Favoritism was entrusted to recent Computaform Sprint (SAf-I) winner Copper Parade, 3-1, ahead of Here Comes Billy at 4-1.
The 13-horse field jumped to a clean break with November Rain, Casual Var, and Happy Forever Ever contesting the early lead. Copper Parade and Fly By Night raced off the pace, with the compact field separated by less than five lengths.
Coming to the final furlong, jockey Anthony Delpech asked Fly By Night to go through a diminishing gap at the rail, and the filly gamely quickened up. Copper Parade was also producing a strong late burst, with the 10-1 shot Showmetheway and 15-1 outsider Midnight Run also threatening.
However, Fly By Night’s late burst was too strong for her male rivals, and she ran out a half-length winner, with Copper Parade back in second, ahead of Showmetheway, Midnight Run, and Happy Forever.
Fly By Night, who was recording the third win of her career, is owned by Markus Jooste, Bryn Ressell, and Marsh Shirtliff. The filly gave trainer Bass his second win in the Mercury Sprint in the past three years following What A Winter in 2012.
The Mercury Sprint also provided Delpech with his first winning top-level ride during the 2013-2014 season.
Fly By Night is one of 21 grade I winners sired by the late champion Jet Master, on course to record his seventh general sires title this season. It has been a good weekend for offspring of Jet Master (who himself won the Mercury Sprint back in 2000), whose daughter Jet Set Go was an impressive winner of the Champions Juvenile Cup (SAf-III) the preceding afternoon.
Bred by Pat Devine (who, along with her husband Henry, owned Jet Master), Fly By Night is out of the winning Model Man mare Fly The Wind.
Saturday’s victory provided Fly By Night with the first stakes victory of her career after previously placing in four other stakes races.