By Sarah Whitelaw
Trainer Brett Crawford and jockey Glen Hatt teamed to win two group I races at Greyville Racecourse in South Africa July 26, capturing the Elan Property Gold Cup with Wavin' Flag and the Beach Beauty Champions Cup with Futura.
The Gold Cup, run at 3,200 meters (about two miles), is South Africa's premier distance race and once again attracted some of the country's top stayers.
The race had a wide open look to it, with top weight Hot Ticket and light weight Alexander disputing favoritism ahead of recent group III winner Master Sabina and Wavin' Flag. Dynasty gelding Alexander was eventually sent out a 4-1 favorite, ahead of 9-2 shot Hot Ticket, winner of the Gold Vase (SAf-I) last time out. Wavin' Flag was a quietly fancied shot at 7-1 after finishing a close second to Hot Ticket in the Gold Vase and subsequently was better off at the weights with that gelding.
The 16-horse field jumped well with Canterbury Tale making the early running ahead of Serissa and South African Oaks (SAf-I) winner Ash Cloud.
Wavin' Flag rated off the early pace with Hatt, and Hot Ticket was among the back markers. Shogunnar, a 20-1 shot, seemed to go amiss during the running of the race and was pulled up at the 1,800-meter mark.
The Gold Cup appeared to be anyone's race turning for home. Front-runner Serissa was quickly swallowed up by his opponents, with the Mike de Kock-trained Wild One hitting the front and looking a tough nut to peg back. However, Wavin' Flag made a strong move up the inside, while 22-1 longshot Gold Onyx running on strongly up the outside.
Wild One was game and fought hard, but Wavin' Flag out-kicked him to win by half a length. Gold Onyx finished strongly for third ahead of Hot Ticket, who was giving weight to the first three and who finished strongly for fourth. Like the winner, Hot Ticket, who had won four feature races previously this season, is a son of leading sire Silvano.
Alexander was pulled up and finished with just two behind him.
Wavin' Flag provided Hatt with his fourth win in the Gold Cup, while trainer Brett Crawford had also enjoyed previous success in the race with Reveille Boy in 2005.
Bred by John and Liz Slade and campaigned by a partnership, Wavin' Flag is a son of 2001 Arlington Million (gr. IT) winner and champion South African sire Silvano out of Yellowwood Handicap (SAf-III) winner Garland.
Wavin' Flag is the second son of Silvano to win the Gold Cup, with Aslan having prevailed back in 2011.
Four-year-old Wavin' Flag, who stopped the clock in 3:24.22, has won three of his 17 outings.
Futura provided Crawford and Hatt with their second group I win on the afternoon when scoring most impressively in the Beach Beauty Champions Cup.
Named in honor of the recently retired champion mare Beach Beauty, the Champions Cup gave lightly raced Futura the first top-level win of his career.
Third last time out in the Vodacom Durban July (SAf-I), Futura was sent out favorite for the 2,000-meter (about 1 1/4-mile) Champions Cup, ahead of the likes of Tellina, Readytogorightnow and disqualified Vodacom Durban July first-place finisher Wylie Hall.
Futura was an easy winner, tallying by 1 3/4 lengths. Fast-finishing King of Pain was second and pacesetter No Worries was third. Wylie Hall never looked dangerous and finished unplaced.
Owned by John Freeman, Ian Longmore and Jack Mitchell, Futura gave sire Dynasty consecutive wins in the Champions Cup after son Jackson won in 2013. Like Futura, the now retired Jackson was trained by Crawford.
Futura, who has won four of his seven outings, also provided co-owner Jack Mitchell with yet more success in the Champions Cup. Mitchell has now been involved with three of past six winners, having previously owned or co-owned Ivory Trail (2009) as well as Jackson last year.
Out of Badger's Drift mare Scribblin' the Cat, Futura was a R500,000 buy at the 2012 Emperors Palace National yearling sale.
The colt is likely now to enjoy a rest before being aimed at some of the bigger Cape races during the 2014-2015 racing season.