Gokhan Terzi’s eight-year-old West Man gelding, Super Trouper defied age to produce a sensational last-gasp victory sprint in a heart-stopping finale of The Zimbabwe Challenge at Borrowdale Park Race Course last Sunday.
By Ngoni Nguruza
The Clifton Stud-bred runner rolled back the years in the final furlong to majestically recover from a certainly beaten position, some eight lengths behind then race leader Thriller in Manila to snatch the win in literally his final stride.
It was a befitting and nail-biting climax to the 2015 race calendar until the racing season resumes in the New Year.
Few would have guessed that the race would pan out the way it did. Hot favourite Approval Rating desperately needed to atone for his inexplicable capitulation in his previous outing where he succumbed to a drubbing at the hands of outsider, Road To Dubai.
This time Gokhan Terzi paired him up with experienced pilot Andrew Fortune. The six-year-old son of Miesque looked dead certain to find redemption among his growing mob of doubters. The only potential stumbling block in the pair’s way was proven race mare Equina who more or less wins for fun when she is in the mood.
The anticipated duel between the two, colossuses never materialised however. Instead, two unlikely contenders were to rewrite the form book and turn the main event on its head in the most dramatic of ways.
Brendon McNaughton had kept Super Trouper somewhat out of touch with the front runners after a very slow start to the race. In contrast, fellow outsider Thriller In Manila shot out of the blocks with a frightful verve that left the field strung out and struggling. The pace was frantic and ruthless from gun to tape. Approval Rating was drowning fast, not only under the weight of expectation, but from the blistering tempo. As happened last time, there was to be no measure of respite for the mercurial gelding.
The Borrowdale Race card tipsters, in their assessment of the 10 contenders for Sunday’s feature event had hinted ominously that Super Trouper “had a tendency of popping up when least expected”. It was a prediction that was to sadly hold true, especially for Apprentice Ryan Munger on board Thriller In Manila. The pair had led for much of the 1 450m distance and must have been duly convinced that they were going to cross the line first when the impossible happened.
From virtually nowhere, McNaughton’s mount breezed up with alarming ease and locked the front runner Thriller In Manila in his sights. There was only a furlong remaining and Super Trouper still had some eight lengths to make up. The eight-year-old campaigner remarkably upped the pace and with an almighty heave lunged toward the finishing line to win the Zimbabwe Challenge in breath-taking fashion.
Thriller In Manila finished a disbelieving second and Madigan third.