Golf legend Gary Player won his last golf tournament at age 69, and dual Horse of the Year Rainbow Bridge showed that he may have another big win in him with a gallant performance in Saturday’s Green Point Stakes at Kenilworth.
Now seven years of age — and three years older than each of his four rivals — the 11-time winner went down by less than half a length to Seeking The Stars who was given a peach of a ride by Anton Marcus, a jockey with many years on the clock.
Rainbow Bridge had not run since finishing a disappointing eighth in the Durban July in which Linebacker finished four lengths in front of him. Now 7kg better off compared with that race, there was a strong case for Eric Sands’s star to turn it around, but there was the worry whether he could maintain his form.
Linebacker finished a creditable third in the Green Point with a run that delighted Seeking The Stars’s trainer, Vaughan Marshall. Hollywoodbets’ reaction to the run was to promote the Captain Of All gelding to the position of 5-1 co-favourite for the Met with Rainbow Bridge and Kommetdieding.
The shock of the Green Point was the lacklustre performance of Jet Dark, winner of the grade 1 Champions Cup at Greyville at end-July.
Before the race, trainer Justin Snaith told the media he thought that — despite the 18-week absence — his four-year-old would be competitive, but it turned out that the Trippi colt was never a factor.
Jet Dark’s supporters would have been a little worried that he was last of five and some way off the lead as the small field turned for home.
It soon became apparent the four-year-old would have needed to be Frankel to win from his position 400m out and he eventually just shaded Captain Fontaine for last place with the pair ending up four lengths behind the winner.
The Snaith camp fared a lot better earlier in the meeting when Captain’s Ransom notched the eighth win of her career with a cosy win over Marcus’s mount, Princess Calla.
It was such an impressive victory that Snaith will surely consider a tilt at the grade 1 Queen’s Plate (won last season by Jet Dark) at the beginning of January. It is time for the Captain Al filly to take on the best males in the land.
There were probably many doubles with Captain’s Ransom as the first leg going on to 1-3 chance, Desert Miracle, in the WSB Cape Fillies Guineas. As happened in the Summer Cup, bookies ended up with the money.
For much of the grade 1 race, Desert Miracle looked set to justify her short price, but Grant van Niekerk is riding at the top of his game and he conjured a great finish out of Chansonette to score by a neck.
A daughter of Vercingetorix bred at Maine Chance Farms, Chansonette cost R500,000 as a yearling and now boasts a record of three wins and two placings from five starts.
Van Niekerk, who also won the Cape Summer Stayers Handicap on Crome Yellow, will be thankful for the two wins as he will be on the sidelines this week serving a suspension for causing interference in a race at Kenilworth on November 16.
The stipendiary board were talking to Van Niekerk once again last Saturday and — after reporting that Chansonette had shifted out continually in the straight in the Guineas — they “strongly advised” that should he continue to allow his mounts to shift ground in future, a charge may be brought against him.