Talk about horses for courses! It would appear OK Grand Challenge winner Yer-Maan has come into his own at Borrowdale Park and there is no stopping this six-year-old son of Jam Alley (AUS).
The St John Gray owned and trained gelding won the US$50 000 Castle Tankard (GR1) run over 2000m on May 16 and on Saturday collected the coveted US$40 000 OK Grand Challenge (GR2), an 1800m event.
The next big race at Borrowdale is the Republic Cup (GR3) over 1900m due to take place on July 11.
The question is whether Yer-Maan and his stable companion, Norgay, will still be around to contest it – and if they are I am not going to waste a lot of time working out the likely winner. Yer-Maan ran off a 103 MR in the OK and the Benchmark is MR 102 in the Republic Cup, maximum weight 61 kgs – he carried 61.5 kgs on Saturday.
Since arriving in Zimbabwe, shortly before the Tankard, Yer-Maan and Norgay have been stabled in Gokhan Terzi’s yard. Gokhan saddled Rock the Country placed third in Saturday’s race, and according to the Stipendiary Report his charge was slow away, losing half a length at the start.
The only locally bred horse in the race, Thriller In Manila, also deserves mention. Just after the 400m mark it looked, for one glorious moment, as if the four-year-old Gharir (IRE) gelding would be victorious but Yer-Maan, with Quinton Riddle in the irons, found a gap and the rest is history. Thriller In Manila is trained by Amy Bronkhorst who also saddled Equina, placed fourth.
Lucky Sam stayed in close contention with the early leader, Norgay, but Randall Simons eased him out of the race at the 1200m mark. After the race nothing untoward was found, but today trainer Bridget Stidolph reports “he is not 100% – there is a problem behind and I am waiting for the Vet to come and check him. It looks to be muscular and hopefully not too serious.”
Warcraft, the Tote favourite, was well placed for most of the race but finished a disappointing 5.75 lengths back, just behind Norgay.
Madigan was also stalking the front runners but Francois Herholdt reported him unbalanced from the 400m mark. The veterinary surgeon found slight lameness on the right fore.
Once again OK Grand Challenge Day lived up to expectations – a huge crowd, spectacular prizes, a great race and plenty of entertainment. I only hope a couple of thousand out of the 71 000 people who attended on Saturday are now hooked on racing.
Unfortunately the next Borrowdale Park race meeting is not until June 28. Not the way to keep up momentum and increase the fan base.
Photograph: Rosie Dorward