A HARD ACT TO FOLLOW


Glen Monarch and a visibly excited Dewi Williams have the first leg of the 2006 Triple Crown sewn up. The race was run in very heavy going as indicated by the penetrometer reading of 34
.

Lisa Harris saddled three Zimbabwe Triple Crown winners, in quick succession, which will be a hard act for anyone else to follow. All three were ridden by Dewi Williams.

First up was Glen Monarch, owned by the Centaur Syndicate, in 2006. Earl of Surrey won for C John Smith in 2007, and the famous filly, Rebecca’s Fleet, owned by Heinrich and Amanda von Pezold, won the coveted Crown in 2009.

Luckily Gavin Macleod was able to produce photographs of Glen Monarch, and Lisa has supplied the captions. Sadly, Rebecca’s Fleet cannot be included in the line-up – and Lisa has gone into detail about the Earl’s Triple Crown venture.

This makes good reading and I am sure she could have provided equally entertaining anecdotes about Glen Monarch and Rebecca’s Fleet, given enough time.

Here goes:

“The very first time that Earl Of Surrey was asked to show his stride on the sand training track at Borrowdale, Bridget Stidolph and Heather Doran, my assistants at the time, as well as Granny Jill (Bruss) and I were momentarily rendered speechless.

” I must add this was a once-off, a very rare occurrence! The grin that ran around Dewi’s face as he returned aboard the big chestnut to the training ring simply confirmed our thoughts; we had a champion on our hands!

“Nine months later, the unbeaten Earl set forth on his Triple Crown trail. On the Saturday before the Guineas, I had just sat down for lunch with a glass of wine in hand; I felt confidant and relaxed at how well his preparation had gone, having gained invaluable experience from Glen Monarch the year before. Then my cell phone rang! It was a frantic Vengi, my stable foreman (he is now an assistant to Mike de Kock) telling me that Earl had been stung by something and was covered in angry bumps

“I raced to the stables and my heart sank as I peered over the stable door to find a very dejected looking Earl; his head hung low, and his magnificent coat that had shone like a mirror just hours before, now resembled the trunk of a gnarly knob-thorn tree! He was covered from the tip of his nose to the end of his quarters in urticaria; an allergic reaction to what we believed to be from the ruthless probe of a malicious little insect of sorts. With less than 24 hours to go to meet his date with the Guineas, there was simply no medication that could be administered that would not reflect as a positive dope test.

“Heather raced to the 24-hour pharmacy and plundered their stocks of anti-histamine creams. Together we squeezed what felt like millions of the 50-gram tubes all over his body, hosing him down for the best part of three hours. The sun had already set when I finally left the stables, and although his coat was regaining its shine and most of the bumps had subsided, I was still not sure he would be able to race the next day.

“At the time, the Sunmark Racing Syndicate had also been blessed with a great sophomore filly in Al Czarina. She had effortlessly disposed of her competitors in the Fillies Classic a month earlier, and syndicate member Henk Leyenaar arranged for Jeff Lloyd to fly up to partner the chestnut, hoping that a jockey of such extreme talent and experience may just be enough to get every ounce of ability out of her to topple the unbeaten Earl.

“Of course, the rest is now history; Earl never came off the bit and won going away. Al Czarina ran fourth, separated by Stormcrow and her other stable companion, Spin Wizard.

“A month later, just as the horses were making their way to the race-course for the second leg of the prestigious treble, the skies darkened, and the rains came down! The 2000m event was run in pouring rain and extremely testing conditions. The commentator, Adrian Nydam, could not make out the horses until they were a stone’s-throw from home and Earl made real heavy weather (pun intended!) of the race, getting to the post just under a length ahead of Great Western.

“Derby day dawned and although all had gone well with a vet-less and stressless preparation, I was nervous as I saddled Earl, uncertain of his ability to see out the testing 2400m trip and very aware that his opponents would be sure to make it a true run race. At least, I thought to myself, we have dry ground, a firm track and the best jockey in the land.

“However, if the team had thought that he had made heavy weather of the leg prior, we were about to witness a performance of heart-stopping proportions! Earl simply refused to pick up the bit, cantering at the back of a strung-out field (some would say with a sense of humour) until about two hundred metres from home, when he simply lengthened his stride and effortlessly picked off each of the runners ahead of him.

“He was just half a length ahead of the long-time pacemaker On Guard at the line, a horse that remained a one-time winner for the rest of his career!

“The fact that Earl went on to win Group One sprints validated our opinion that it was simply his class that enabled him to stay the Derby trip!”

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