JACK MILNER: IT seems to have become the norm these days for trainers to apologise to the public for their schooling indiscretions.
Aiden O’Brien did so in an interview with regard to So You Think, and Mike Bass, who admitted he was in England when O’Brien did so, followed suit after What A Winter won the Grade 1 Mercury Sprint at Clairwood on Saturday.
The son of Western Winter, who proved most disappointing in his two starts to date in KwaZulu-Natal, was backed off the boards to 14-10 to win the R600,000 event, while Delago Deluxe, who was joint favourite at 5-2 when betting opened, drifted to 3-1.
The pace was on from the second the gates opened and it was Chocolicious who flew out the blocks to lead from Midnight Serenade and Winking Jack, while Anton Marcus kept Delago Deluxe just off the leading line.
Bernard Fayd’Herbe, aboard What A Winter, was content to stay a few lengths off the pace but was working at the son of Western Winter after just 200m. However, when asked seriously for a response, What A Winter responded immediately and within a few strides drew level with Delago Deluxe. who had taken the lead some 400m out, and drew off to win easing up by 2.75 lengths with Delago Deluxe the same distance clear of third-placed Snowdon. Fourth place went to Copper Parade.
Undoubtedly, a little tongue in cheek, Bass said: “I was over in England two weeks ago and watched So You Think win with Aiden O’Brien and he had to apologise to the public for getting his horse beaten a few times before. So I think I have to probably apologise for this horse’s last two runs. It was probably my fault somewhere along the line.
“But he is back to his best now. That’s the horse we expected and that’s the horse he is! He is streets ahead of all my horses, especially over this trip and he won like I expected him to win today.”
Fayd’Herbe also looked mighty relieved after the race. “We always knew how good he was. We were so disappointed with his last two runs. I didn’t quite know what was wrong and then I came back to Mr Bass and said this horse is working so well, he just somehow hadn’t put it in.
“I left it to them and they got the horse right. It just shows when he is at his best, he’s a special horse.”
When asked about the fact that he was pushing at the horse early on Fayd’Herbe responded: “I would have liked to have held him up and cruise him, but I didn’t want them to get away from me and I asked him quite early.
“Once I got to them, I was going really well. And then, all of a sudden I was in a situation where I had to move a little earlier than I wanted to as they came back to me really quickly. He won a very good race!”
Bass, however, remains convinced What A Winter will go 1600m. However, one cannot argue with results and What A Winter has now raced over 1200m on seven occasions for five wins and two unplaced runs, both at Scottsville.
Delago Deluxe was clearly beaten by a better horse on the day and did well under the circumstances, considering there was a 4.5kg weight turnaround from their last start in the Golden Horse Casino Sprint at Scottsville.