3/1 second favourite, Gem King blasted through a 34,7 second 600m to finish closing sectional to pass all his rivals and take out Leg 2 of the Winter Series, the World Sports Betting Legal Eagle Stakes (Grade 3) at Kenilworth over 1800m.
This follows up on his fluent victory in the World Sports Betting Variety Club Mile last month, which was the opening Leg of the Winter show-down. It marks a professional triumph for trainer Piet Steyn who has done a great job patching up and conditioning this gelded son of Master of my Fate.
Steyn revealed that Gem King’s legs require constant care, icing and stretching so it was with deep satisfaction that he watched his charge dash through down the inside for a fifth win from 12 starts. After a few miscues when sprinting at the beginning of his career, Gem King is now really thriving. This was his fourth victory from the last five starts as he matures into a handsome and fleet-footed three-year old physically able to handle longer routes.
Perfectly piloted by jockey Richard Fourie, Gem King was bred at Varsfontein Stud and is out of the Damascus Gate mare, Gem Queen.
14/1 shot Winchester Mansion kicked on smartly for second, handling the step up in class and trip well enough without being able to go with the eased- down winner. Heavily punted 11/10 favourite Future Prince slotted in third, but just as happened in the first Leg, could not match Gem King ‘s superior turn of foot.
The Listed WSB Stormsvlei Stakes over 1800m for three-year-old fillies fell to Maria Querol who set the pace then fought back gamely after being headed 300m out. Jockey Craig Zackey complimented the daughter of Querari on a “gutsy” win, whilst stable representative Jonathan Snaith highlighted her aptitude in softer ground.
Maria Querol was one of the best juveniles in the Cape last year but had battled to assert herself subsequently. Snaith provided the clue to her resurgence on a softer surface, though it was nip and tuck as she only just staved off Fleeting and Peut Etre Moi with Going Up nearby in a blanket finish.
Easy to back at 10’s after drifting out from an opening call of 9/2 upon serious support for Going Up, Maria Querol was bred by Maine Chance and the Coolmore Partnership. This determined filly has now won four of 11 lifetime starts and is worth following especially when it comes up mud during the rainy months.
Words: Mark Van Deventer