where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2018-02-18 22:25:28  
Tommy Hotspur win for Alexander

It was an emotional moment for trainer Gary Alexander as Champagne Haze crossed the line to win the Grade 3 Tommy Hotspur Handicap over 1000m at Turffontein on Saturday.

Alexander trained the great Tommy Hotspur, who won his first eight races on the trot.

Ridden by apprentice jockey Lyle Hewitson, Champagne Haze beat Greasepaint into second, with Pure Blonde third and Tandava fourth.

“We are preparing him for the Senor Santa, which is over 1200m. I thought this distance would be too short for him,” said Alexander.

“Quite honestly, I would have been happy had he run fifth or sixth.

“The problem is he’s not a big horse but he always has to carry such big weights. Even today he had 61kg on his back but luckily he was too good.”

Champagne Haze was completely outpaced; after a matter of strides he was last of the 15 runners. There was a lot of speed up front as Rebel’s Champ, Wrecking Ball and Greasepaint set the pace with Pure Blonde and Brigtnumberten close up.

Greasepaint hit the front going into the final 200m and looked to have the race wrapped up when he started to hang in. At that point, Hewitson had Champagne Haze in full cry and he swept into the lead to win going away by 1.50 lengths.

Greasepaint held on for second, a long head in front of Pure Blonde with Tandava another one length back in fourth.

Champagne Haze went off at 18-1 with Pure Blonde the favourite at 11-2. Both horses are owned by Lawrence Wernars, who was on course to lead his charge into the winner’s enclosure.

“Funnily enough, Lyle has ridden about 20 horses for me and this is our first winner together. I hope the floodgates now open and we have plenty wins together,” said Wernars.

The trainer’s sister Julie, who conducted interviews after the race, could barely contain her emotion. “It was a difficult one to do but this win was big for the family,” she said.

She also believed that “Tommy” would have given this whole field a hiding had he taken them on at his best.

Mujallad, who was the early favourite for the race, was withdrawn in the morning as he was injured while loading in the float bringing him to the course.
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