where the horse is always the hero
Article Item
Posted 2010-01-30 17:13:41  

River Jetez (SAF) stepped out of the shadow of full-brother Pocket Power (SAF) as she beat the reigning champion into third place in the Gr 1 J & B Met over 2000m at Kenilworth today. Mother Russia (SAF) split the siblings by running a cracking race in second. Fort Vogue (SAF) finished fourth, ensuring that trainer Mike Bass dominated the race, filling first, third and fourth positions.

The occasion had already built up into a near-frenzy and understandably so, with racing fans around the country (and at least a few abroad as well) willing Pocket Power on to an unbelievable fourth consecutive victory in the Cape's premier racing event. While the race did not quite deliver the result they were hoping for, it served up huge doses of drama, with a false start, one of the key contenders blowing his chances when the gates opened for the official start and, at the death, a thrilling finish.

Second favourite Dan de Lago was the one who was left badly when the race finally got under way, losing some four lengths at the start with Kapil also starting tardily.

Up front, it was Mother Russia who broke smartly, getting across from a hopeless draw to lead early before eventually settling into fourth as Diamond Quest went out to ensure a good pace ahead of Red Rake and Surfin' USA. Fabiani was next best as Blue Tiger raced just off the leading line, albeit somewhat wide with Pocket Power giving some six or seven lengths' start. River Jetez travelled comfortably in her brother's slipstream with Fort Vogue nicely positioned and Oracy also within striking distance of the leader but unable to get across from his wide draw. Dan de Lago was never able to make up the lost ground and was a good 25 lengths behind at one stage as Forest Path and Big City Life, yet another one to break from a poor draw, turned for home at the tail end of the field.

Diamond Quest quickly disappeared from the scene upon entering the straight as Mother Russia moved up with Fort Vogue to her inside. Fabiani was chasing hard while Pocket Power, as expected, went for his run outside-centre. The favourite started to close in but the electrifying burst that viewers have become accustomed to was not forthcoming.

Fort Vogue and Mother Russia were engaged in a ding dong battle 200m out with Pocket Power making up ground steadily but it was clear that it he was going to require a bit more if he was to get there in time. With attention focused on this trio, River Jetez burst through between horses. Mother Russia had seen off Fort Vogue and looked as if she might pull off a sensational victory but River Jetez caught her in the final strides and jockey Glen Hatt even had time to salute with his whip as they crossed the line.

It was significant that trainers Mike Bass and Mike de Kock left River Jetez and Mother Russia in the Met, when either of them would have had an outstanding chance in the female-only Majorca Stakes earlier in the day. That alone indicated the confidence levels in both camps and it was certainly vindicated on the day.

River Jetez went off at 15/1 but there was nothing untoward about her winning here. The 6-year-old mare, while not quite as brilliant as her older brother, has been a model of consistency throughout her career and was finishing best of all in last year's Met, making up a huge amount of ground to get within a length of Pocket Power and Dancer's Dancer. She has continued to hold form since then and has looked as good as ever this season. She had been undone by the slow pace when beaten in the Paddock Stakes last time out but was 2kg better off with winner Mother Russia on that run and duly turned the tables. It has often been remarked that she had never managed to crack a Gr 1 victory previously and she certainly chose one of the biggest stages of all to finally register this achievement. She travelled conspicuously well throughout  and Hatt rode a perfectly timed race.

Mother Russia ran a magnificent race in defeat. Drawn widest of all, Anthony Delpech had no choice but to make early use of her and there's no doubt that this would have taken its toll in the closing stages. She's trained on superbly following a highly successful 3-year-old season and as with River Jetez, this run would only have enhanced an already sky-high paddock value.

There was obvious disappointment surrounding Pocket Power's defeat and there will no doubt be plenty of analysis of his effort, with the false start perhaps being identified as a contributing factor, but that is surely unnecessary. The feats he has achieved in respect of his previous Met and Queens Plate victories will never be seen again and he came into this race with absolutely nothing left to prove. When it came to the final furlong today, he didn't look his usual brilliant self  but that is to be expected from a 7-year-old who has been plagued by unsoundness and from whom trainer Bass has already conjured up several miracles. It speaks volumes that, despite not being quite at his very best, he still managed to get within a length of the first two, conceding a fair bit of weight to them.

Fort Vogue ran the race of his life in fourth. Despite winning the Gr 2 Peninsula handicap last time out, he still looked to have a mountain to climb in this sort of field but he rose to the occasion and left several more vaunted rivals trailing in his wake. He's always looked a very progressive sort and this run announced his arrival in the big league.

The finishing positions made for interesting reading with just 3.60 lengths covering the first nine home and a significant gap back to the rest. There were a few unplaced runners who emerged from the race with some sort of credit.

Fabiani was in touch throughout and kept on running all the way to the line for a two-length fifth, confirming that he is one of the most improved horses around and that his previous graded race exploits this season were no fluke, while the slowly-away Kapil was not disgraced by any means as he finished a length behind in sixth, once again making up a tremendous amount of ground.

Smart Banker, saddled with joint top weight, never got into it from a poor draw and he was another one who turned for home with a huge task ahead of him. He made some progress for seventh place, just ahead of Oracy who got a lot closer to the leaders early on but who also never got a suitable position from his outside draw. They'll return to fight another day and will be major contenders for the big middle distance events during the Highveld autumn season.

Big City Life (ninth) came from a hopeless position and in the circumstances, wasn't beaten too many lengths in the end. He hasn't looked anywhere as dominant this season as he did during the last one but he deserves another chance, as does Dan De Lago whose race was over even before it began and whose failure here is best ignored as he is much better than this.

River Jetez (SAF) is a 6-y-o mare by Jet Master (SAF) out of Stormsvlei (SAF) by Prince Florimund (SAF). She is owned by Mr & Mrs C A Amm and Mr N M Shirtliff and was bred by Out Of Africa Stud.

Winning trainer: Mike Bass

 Race 7 - R2.5M - JandB MET (Grade 1)
Open to all Horses - 2000m
No Horse Jockey Al/Bl Kg Dr Fin Dist Time OP SP
18 RIVER JETEZ Glen Hatt A 53.5 9 1 0.00 122.82 16/1 15/1
17 MOTHER RUSSIA Anthony Delpech A 55.0 18 2 0.50 122.91 12/1 10/1
1 POCKET POWER Bernard Fayd'Herbe A 58.0 2 3 1.00 123.01 16/10 17/10
16 FORT VOGUE Karl Neisius A B 55.5 4 4 1.05 123.02 40/1 50/1
15 FABIANI Richard Fourie A 55.5 5 5 2.05 123.20 20/1 16/1
6 KAPIL M J Byleveld A 56.0 3 6 3.05 123.39 16/1 11/1
2 SMART BANKER Felix Coetzee A 58.0 16 7 3.30 123.44 33/1 33/1
13 ORACY (NZ) Piere Strydom A 55.5 17 8 3.35 123.45 11/2 11/2
4 BIG CITY LIFE Karis Teetan *0.0 A 57.5 14 9 3.60 123.50 7/1 10/1
5 FOREST PATH Gerrit Schlechter A 57.5 13 10 8.35 124.40 50/1 60/1
12 LION'S BLOOD Raymond Danielson A 56.0 6 11 9.10 124.55 66/1 150/1
7 SURFIN' USA Warren Kennedy A 56.0 12 12 9.35 124.60 50/1 100/1
9 RED RAKE Sean Cormack A 56.0 1 13 9.60 124.64 12/1 12/1
8 BLUE TIGER Stuart Randolph A 56.0 10 14 11.60 125.03 100/1 125/1
3 STRATEGIC NEWS (AUS) Pat Cosgrave A B 58.0 11 15 11.85 125.08 50/1 66/1
14 DAN DE LAGO (AUS) Anton Marcus A 55.5 8 16 12.10 125.13 4/1 6/1
10 THUNDERING JET Muzi Yeni A 56.0 15 17 13.85 125.47 100/1 100/1
11 DIAMOND QUEST Kelvin Jupp A 56.0 7 18 24.10 127.50 50/1 150/1







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