By Sarah Whitelaw
Leading South African sire Silvano scored a group I double at Greyville June 1 when his unbeaten son Vercingetorix landed the Daily News 2000 and his daughter Do You Remember captured the fillies equivalent, the Woolavington Stakes.
Silvano, the 2001 Arlington Million (gr. IT) winner, is having his best season at stud. The group I double Saturday gave the son of Lomitas a remarkable triple, with his unbeaten 2-year-old daughter, Happy Valentine, having landed last weekend's Allan Robertson Championship (SAf-I).
Betting for the Daily News for 3-year-olds was dominated by two runners. Dual Cape classic hero Capetown Noir was sent out a 9-5 shot for the 2,000-meter race (about 1 1/4 miles), ahead of the Vercingetorix.
The latter had defeated Capetown Noir in the KRA Guineas (SAf-II) previously, but many felt that Capetown Noir, who looked a shade unlucky in the Guineas, would have come on for that race and could beat his rival.
However, the Mike de Kock-trained Vercingetorix maintained his unbeaten run while making it four wins from as many starts.
Given a top ride from Anthony Delpech, who had partnered the colt to victory in the KRA Guineas, Vercingetorix was settled just off the pace set by stablemate Rock Cocktail.
Turning for home, Delpech asked his mount to quicken, and Vercingetorix kicked on strongly. In a thrilling finish, where one length covered the first four home, Vercingetorix showed his courage to hold off late challenges from 90-1 outsider No Worries, who ran a career best race, with favorite Capetown Noir narrowly beaten into third place. Rock Cocktail, a promising son of Rock Of Gibraltar, stayed on well for fourth in the prestigious feature.
Likely to next contest South Africa's most famous race, the Vodacom Durban July, Vercingetorix is owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum.
Remarkably, he made his first start in March, and now looks to be one of the main fancies for the July. Bred by Klawervlei, the lightly raced colt scored his first group I win.
Vercingetorix is out of the National Assembly mare National Vixen. He is a half brother to the top-class filly Trinity House, who was second in the Cape Fillies Guineas (SAf-I).
A tight finish also prevailed in the Woolavington Stakes for fillies, which, like the Daily News, is a 2,000-meter race.
Regularly won by some of South Africa's top female athletes, the Woolavington saw the outstanding fillies Cherry on the Top and Blueridge Mountain dominate the betting. The former, who had earlier in the season become just the second filly ever to win South Africa's Triple Tiara, was sent out a 11-20 shot ahead of Blueridge Mountain, who conquered older fillies and mares when landing the Klawervlei Majorca Stakes (SAf-I).
However this race went to the ultra consistent Do You Remember, who had previously been second to Cherry on The Top in all three legs of the Triple Tiara.
The Silvano filly was given a tremendous ride by Cape jockey Bernard Fayd'Herbe, who sent his mount for home at the right time.
Do You Remember, scoring her first feature race victory, showed tremendous heart in getting the best of Cape raider Blueridge Mountain. The eventual winning margin was a head, with third-place finisher Jet Belle another head away. Favorite Cherry on The Top never looked dangerous back in fourth place.
Fayd'Herbe, the former partner of South African star Pocket Power, paid tribute to his mount after the race by describing her as the gutsiest filly he had ever ridden.
For winning trainer Geoff Woodruff, the Woolavington victory was all in the family, as he had previously conditioned Do You Remember's South Africa Oaks (SAf-II) winning dam, Festive Occasion.
The filly was also giving owner-breeder, Micheal de Broglio, his top-level victory. De Broglio had previously campaigned the Oaks-winning fillies Festive Occasion and Sabina Park.
Do You Remember, who had been second in her last four outings, has now won three of her nine outings to date.