JACK MILNER: THE love affair between horses and their jockeys was highlighted in the Grade 2 Gold Bracelet over 2000m at Greyville on Saturday when jockey Anton Marcus referred to his mount, Happy Archer, as “a honey’’.
Happy Archer won the race by a head from Checcetti, with Frequent Flyer third and Keep On Dreaming fourth.
The race was weakened when favourite Beach Beauty and second favourite Ilha Bela were pulled out and that left Sean Tarry-trained Happy Archer as the 11-10 favourite to win this event which was brought down to just six runners. With no natural front runner a good pace was unlikely and Marcus found himself in front aboard the Australian-bred daughter of Dubawi.
“I never went to the front by design,’’ said the jockey. “I was hoping for a bit of cover.’’
There were always stamina doubts for the filly and Tarry admitted that when he saw her go to the front “all the way around I knew it would come down to the wire’’.
Halfway up the straight well-supported Checcetti, ridden by Kevin Shea, moved in for the kill and he appeared to have worn down the favourite and got the upper hand. Marcus, however, changed the crop to his left hand and suddenly Happy Archer found a second wind. She fought back gamely and had her nose down at the finish.
“She’s a honey to ride,’’ proclaimed Marcus. “She was beaten. The other filly went past her and she was beaten.’’
However, Tarry gave all the credit to Marcus. “It was a fantastic ride by Anton. He changed the whip to his left hand and she responded. He has a great rapport with this filly and it is a pity I cannot get him to ride her more often.’’
Tarry, who had earlier won the Grade 1 Premier’s Champion Stakes with The Hangman, claimed his third feature of the afternoon when Heavy Metal (22-10) won the Listed Darley Arabian over 1900m. Tarry was not sure his runner would stay the trip but did say during the week that the best was yet to come from this son of Silvano.
Red Fort was scratched at the start for not going into the starting stalls. Astro News went to the front from 17-10 favourite Tribal Dance with Heavy Metal third but once in the straight Tribal Dance hit the front and Heavy Metal went with him. Strydom and MJ Bylveld battled it out for some 200m but Strydom got the upper hand to win by one length from fast-finishing Taipan who relegated Tribal Dance to third.
“He was too heavy in front when I rode him in the Gauteng Guineas,’’ said Strydom. “Gelding has made a huge difference.’’