By David Thiselton
The Adam Marcus-trained Princess Calla stamped the form of the touted pair Anything Goes and War Of Athena by winning Saturday’s Grade 2 Western Cape Fillies Championship and earlier a Vaughan Marshall-trained trio, Seeking The Stars, Linebacker and Rascallion, were added to the list of horses who are enhancing the reputation of the three-year-old male crop when finishing one-two-three in the Grade 3 Cape Classic.
Racing statistician Jay August produced his informative sectional times for both of the Kenilworth Graded 1400m events and concluded that the fillies race was “a false run affair but probably made no difference to the result and the Classic was a real gallop and the winner was quite impressive.”
Five races were run over that trip on the day which added to the impact of his figures.
In the Fillies Champions the 7/2 favourite Trickster led and Princess Calla, who jumped from draw five under Craig Zackey, sat in second place a length behind. Princess Calla was forced to sit one wide without cover as Ma Black had secured the rail position behind the leader. However, the race was run at a crawl and they went through the 800m mark in 39,28 seconds, three-quarters of a second slower than the leader had reached that point in the first race, a Maiden Plate for fillies and Mares over the same trip.
The pace continued to be slow and Trickster passed the end of the false rail in 61,66 seconds, 1,67 seconds slower than the Maiden Plate time.
Under those fractions they were never going to catch Princess Calla.
The Flower Alley filly’s class had shone forth in her two starts as a two-year-old, which included a third place finish in the Grade 1 Thekwini behind Anything Goes and War Of Athena. It had also been clear she had plenty of scope for further improvement.
In the straight on Saturday she wore down Trickster and ran away from her in the final 150 metres to beat her easing up by two lengths.
The Maine Chance Farms-bred Princess Calla is out of Grade 2 Sceptre Stakes (1200m) winner Princess Royal, a Captain Al mare who is a half-sister to the four-times Grade 1-winning sprint-miler Princess Victoria.
The third and fourth placed finishers, Zarina and Lemon Delight, not surprisingly came from handy positions in what turned into a sprint for home.
The next four finishers, Ballrom Bliss, Veronica Mars, Fiftyshadesdarker and Dazzling Sun cannot be discounted in the Cape Fillies Guineas as they were too far out of their ground and ran on as well as could be expected under the circumstances.
In the Cape Classic Seeking The Stars also led from start to finish but it was a race of completely different character to the fillies’ race as he ran them off their feet.
The colt reached the 800m mark in 37,85 seconds, 1,43 seconds quicker than the fillies’ pacemaker, and reached the end of the false rail in 58,42 seconds, 3,24 seconds quicker than the filles’ equivalent. He completed the race in 85,21 seconds, 2,22 seconds quicker than the fillies’ time.
The victory gave Luyola Mxothwa his first Graded success.
Seeking The Stars has been a different horse since blinkers were fitted. He won his maiden over 1200m by 3,50 lengths but it was his fourth start and he not surprisingly started at long odds of 44/1 on Saturday.
The runner up Linebacker sat in fourth place on the rail with Rascallion behind him and this pair stayed on resolutely before making eyecatching late progress to be beaten 1,25 lengths and 3,50 lengths respectively.
Seeking The Stars adds yet more glitter to the career of South Africa’s current boom sire, Vercingetorix. His half-brother Seventh Sea by Seventh Rock finished third in the CTS 1200 and now campaigns in Hong Kong where he is yet to earn a cheque in 15 starts.
Linebacker, a rangy gelding by Captain Of All, could well be a better Cape Guineas prospect than Seeking The Stars. He is out of the Redoute’s Choice mare Thin Red Line, whose two wins were over 1000m but she also finished runner up in both the Listed Starling Stakes over 1400m and the Grade 3 Fillies Mile.
Both Seeking The Stars and Linebacker were bred by Champion Breeders Klawervlei Stud.
Rascallion is also by Vercingetorix and is out of six-time winning Jet Master mare Sofala, who won five times over 1800m, so this colt might also see out a mile. On the other hand Sofala’s best progeny to date has been Agent Of Fortune, who beat Cirillo on debut in the Non-Black Type Kuda Sprint over 1200m.