AFTER a three-month battle, the curtain will this afternoon come down on the Triple Crown with the running of the third and final leg of the Series — The Zimbabwe Derby.
By Michael Kariati
Having started on February 23 when Print The Pounds won the Zimbabwe Guineas via the Bloodstock South Africa on March 23 and won by Marhaba, the Triple Crown completes its full circle with the Zimbabwe Derby which has drawn together eight of the top three-year-olds.
John Smith who has raced at Borrowdale Race Course for over 40 years describes the Zimbabwe Derby as the race every owner, trainer and jockey wants to win. “The Derby, in my view, over the classic mile and half, is the ultimate test, be it at Epson or Borrowdale,” said Smith.
It surely has been a long wait for the climax of the Triple Crown to come and, not to be outdone, is the appearance of two Zimbabwean bred horses Mica Point and Tallie Two who are staking a strong claim for the title.
Sadly, though, Bridget Stidolph’s Print The Pounds — holder of the Zimbabwe Guineas title — is not in the race as she is serving her 12 day suspension on the strength of rule 53,5 after she was scratched from the Bloodstock South Africa through lameness.
The rule forbids horses on medical grounds to take part in that particular race and the races that come in the following 12 days.
Missing too will be Ghokan Terzi’s Eversolucky who has been forced to retire after injuring a tendon which makes her unable to race for the rest of her life.
“It’s sad to announce the retirement from racing of our special Eversolucky. She has injured a tendon and would require one year off with no guarantee of racing again even then,” says Eversolucky owner Gary Jolliffe.
The horse has now been offered to breeders as a broodmare and will be starting a new breeding career, “She is sound at walk and trot but is sensitive to touch and flection. The Vets assured us that this will settle soon and will no way affect her breeding career,” added Jolliffe.
Eversolucky was fourth in the Bloodstock South Africa but that was as far as she could go with her career. Terzi however, still has an ace up his sleeve in the form of Merhaba (1) who could clinch the Triple Crown should he win the Zimbabwe Guineas.
Already, the proud winner of the Bloodstock South Africa, Merhaba carries the hopes of the whole stable in the 2 400 metre race which has a stake money of $7 200 with the winning horse guaranteed of $4 320.
What is more comforting for Terzi is the fact that Merhaba beat both Mica Point (2) and Tallie Two (7) in the Bloodstock South Africa which gives him an added advantage over the two Zimbabwean horses who are challengers to her bid for an easy stroll to the Triple Crown.
In this long distance race, Merhaba is badly drawn at seven and is also carrying a heavy weight of 58kgs, the same as Mica Point, who has been fortunate enough to have a lucky draw of the one which is in the inside.
However, it is Tallie Two, the Zimbabwean bred daughter of Soar with Eagle and Eco Strike who poses the most serious threat to Merhaba’s dream. Tallie Two won her maiden race at the course, on April 20 last year over 1 100 metres, beating Latin Queen by 0,75 lens.
She followed this with the Graduation Plate title over 1 700 metres and pipped the heavily favoured five-year-old Gentle Brook to the Zimbabwe Republic Police Charity Stakes Championship when carrying 8kg more.
More importantly is the fact that in this longer race, Tallie Two is well drawn at four, just next to Spanish Matador (4) from the Jannie Blignaut stable who will be ridden by Francois Herholdt.
The Joseph Ngororombe-groomed Tallie Two will be carrying 55,5 kg, compared to the six other top weights who are carrying 3kg more.
The filly, along with Corne Spies’s Second Light (8), are the only light weights in this race as they are carrying the same weight.
Spies, who is hoping to improve on her seventh finish in the trainers’ standings last season, also fields Lincoln Can (5) and Holdersterbolder (6). Holdersterbolder will be ridden by Daniel Frank, a man who knows his way around the Borrowdale Race Course turf.
In a field in which Terzi competes the line up with the fielding of River Waltz, the race features four geldings, two colts and two fillies all hoping for a podium finish and huge dividends to the punters.
Initially, the Zimbabwe Derby had attracted 13 nominations but five of them — All The Birds, Latin Queens, and Argodaba from the Spies yard as well as Stidolph’s Rock Prince and Terzi’s Primadora — failed to make the final field.