Snaith Racing dominated the opening legs of the Winter Series this weekend with the feisty Warrior and Really Royal prevailing.
Warrior (by Futura ex Nona in Command) took out the World Sports Betting Grade 3 Variety Club Mile, opening leg of the “Becoming Champions” Winter Series, on Saturday.
This rapidly improving colt who handled the steep hike up in class with aplomb, is trained by formidable local outfit Snaith Racing.
The early pace was merely tepid as Greg Cheyne dictated on FireAlley before shaking loose on the lead midway down the long Kenilworth straight. He was pursued by a determined Warrior with the filly Marina making a big, belated move. Inside the distance, it still looked like FireAlley would ward off all threats, only for 22/10 Warrior to get up on the post, under an inspired ride by Richard Fourie, with Marina securing third in an exciting finish.
Fourie says: “Warrior dug down deep and showed his class – he’s going to be a serious racehorse. Indeed, the son of Futura has now won three of six starts and just keeps getting better. He seems to harmonise a generally placid temperament with an essential competitive attribute for racing – the will to win!”
Of the vanquished rivals, a resigned Greg Cheyne said afterwards: “FireAlley did everything right, just got beat by a better horse.”
And Keagan de Melo conceded that the slow early pace worked against Marina.
While there was honour in defeat for the placed thoroughbreds, Warrior was most impressive and is now teed up for a tilt at the remaining legs of the Winter Series staged over longer distances.
The Sweet Chestnut Stakes (Listed) also over 1600m was another triumph for the Snaith stable as they swept first, second and third with Really Royal, Rain In Newmarket and La Quinta. The 20/1 longshot winner is a substantial bay filly, regally bred, being by Captain Al out of the Fort Wood mare, Pagan Princess.
It was desperately close at the wire as Really Royal only narrowly held off the surging rally of her stable mate in a photo finish.
This victory represented big improvement on form shown to date – lightly-raced, young fillies are eligible to make rapid progress – and she belied her modest official rating of only 86 going into the contest. Winning jockey Luyolo Mxothwa hailed her strengths, describing her as, “a beautiful big baby – she’s just so smooth in a race”.
Chris Snaith mentioned that he came in for some criticism when selecting Really Royal, as she had what some conformation experts deem a fault. He explained: “She had a straight hind leg, but for me the straighter the better.
This was a sterling success for Really Royal, even if she got the rub of the green making her move unobstructed down the inside, then holding off Rain In Newmarket’s last ditch lunge, after that one took a bump at a crucial stage. A game, La Quinta was nearby, in third spot.