Racing fans were treated to three top drawer performances at Hollywoodbets Greyville yesterday by Rainbow Bridge, Captain's Ransom and Linebacker and it would not be remiss of anybody to call all three of them the best of their respective age group and gender in the country.

The weather forecast for the opening meeting of the SA Champions Season had at one stage looked bleak but in the end the combination of heavy rain at the end of last week and sunshine over the weekend led to perfect conditions and once again kudos must be given to track manager Kurt Grunewald, his assistant Kevin Searle and their team.

Rainbow Bridge proved himself every inch the highest merit rated horse in the land in the Grade 2 IOS Drill Hall Stakes over 1400m under a fine ride by Luke Ferraris.

Trainer Eric Sands' decision to offer the youngster the ride on this superstar while he was still officially an apprentice has proved to be a master stroke and the trio now make a fine team.

Under Ferraris Rainbow Bridge has reverted to his original style of being held up and relying on his devastating turn of foot. This helped him win the Met and it was equally effective in the Drill Hall.

He broke well yesterday from draw seven and was just off the leaders early. The inward movement of Cartel Captain then allowed him to slot in one wide of the rail. He relaxed well and Ferraris was not at all concerned about being shuffled back. Eden Roc set a decent pace and Rainbow Bridge turned for home with about six or seven lengths to make up. The field dived for the inside coming off the three metre spur into the straight meaning Rainbow Bridge just had to switch slightly outward for a clear run on the outside of horses. He quickened superbly the moment he saw daylight and was soon powering past the field, hitting the front at the 100m mark and going on to win by 1,90 lengths from the Paul Peter- trained Johannesburg raider Catch Twentytwo. The Paul Muscutt-trained speedster Ultra Magnus ran a cracker to take third place ahead of fellow KZN horse Trip To Africa and next best was Silver Operator.

This year will mark six-year-old Rainbow Bridge's third attempt to land the Vodacom Durban July for doyen of owners and breeders Mike Rattray and this was the first time he had won his intended pipe opener. In 2019 he finished a narrow second in the Drill Hall and last year missed the race due to a respiratory infection before opening in the Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge which he won. However, his second run after a layoff is usually a touch flat so it will be important for his third run this SA Champions Season to be in the July and he is on track for that to happen.

Catch Twentytwo ran a fine trial too especially considering Paul Peter had sent him in underdone and with plenty of improvement to come.

In the Grade 2 WSB Fillies Guineas the Justin Snaith-trained Captain's Ransom made it four out of four as a three-year-old under Richard Fourie. The twice Grade 1 winner sat in a handy position and in the straight she soon put daylight between herself and the opposition to win by 1,60 lengths from her arch rival, the Adam Marcus-trained Princess Calla. The latter produced an eyecatching finish from last. The Dennis Drier-trained Freestate Star flew the KZN flag with a 2,10 third and Zarina and Only The Brave were next best.

In the Grade 2 WSB Guineas The Vaughan Marshall-trained Linebacker once again proved his class. His stablemate Seeking The Stars set a good pace and Linebacker had plenty of work to do to fetch him in the straight from a midfield. position. However, he did so with consummate ease to the extent that jockey Grant van Niekerk looked over his shoulder before he had even reached Seeking The Stars. He then pressed the button and it was race over. Linebacker has a lovely fluid stride and quickened effortlessly past his stable companion to win by 0,60 lengths.

Kommetdieding, who might well be the most popular horse in the country, ran on well from last for third, a good pipe opener. Cape Guineas winner Russian Rock once again proved difficult to restrain in the early running but did manage fourth ahead of MK's Pride.

It was good weekend results-wise for Van Niekerk but he is likely to be in hot water with the stipes as he appeared to clean out two horses, Anna Capri and Vernichey, when winning the 4Racing Computaform Sprint on Saturday and in yesterday's WSB Guineas appeared to clean out Russian Rock.

Picture: LINEBACKER wins the WSB Guineas from stable companion Seeking The Stars.

Gold Circle 

© 2009 All rights reserved.