The four-year-old Kahal (GB) gelding, Comanche Brave justified the bookmaker’s billing as one of the favourites for the Castle Tankard after claiming the $30 000 top prize in the 2 000 metre event that attracted a classy field of 12 runners at Borrowdale Park Race Course yesterday.
BY MICHAEL KARIATI
Tipped as one of the pre-race favourites by bookmaker Kenny Mukopa, who placed him at 6/1 on the opening day of betting on April 24, Comanche Brave – ridden by 29-year-old South African jockey Evert Pheiffer – produced a stunning finish to shrug off the late challenge on Royal Honour.
By doing so, the son of Kahal who was coming from the Amy Bronkhorst stable improved his overall record to four wins and seven placings in 15 starts.
This was also the South African-bred horse’s second top finish in five starts after taking the honours on March 19 when it won ahead of Mathematician.
For winning the Grade One race, Comanche Brave gave his combination, which also included groomer Garikai Tsarudzo $30 000 to share.
Yet the race had not looked like Comanche Brave’s for the taking as Cool Solution, Windigo and Mathematician changed the lead in the first 1 000 metres. At the home stretch, it was Royal Honour who took control of the race, before Pheiffer asked the four-year-old to go a gear up.
With 100 metres to go, Comanche Brave and Royal Honour fought neck-to-neck before Pheiffer and Brave Comanche carried the day. “I am the happiest man today. I never doubted what Comanche could do, and he has done it,” said Pheiffer.
For coming second, Royal Honour took home $10 000 while the heavily favoured Mathematician received $6 000 for finishing in third place. Mathematician was placed by Mukopa as the second favourite at 11/2 behind Duffi’s Call on the opening day of betting.
Windigo from the Kirk Swanson stable, who was ridden by Sherman Brown, settled for fourth position and is smiling home with $3 000.
The disappointment of the race was 2016 champion Rock the Country who failed to finish in the top four despite the small field. As a result, the son of Western Winter missed out on the chance to emulate the achievements of Taranaki, who won back-to-back Castle Tankard titles in 1978 and 1979.
The race’s overwhelming favourite Duffi’s Call from the Bridget Stidolph stable who was supposed to have been ridden by the only Zimbabwean jockey in the race Brendon McNaughton, was scratched on Friday.
The Castle Tankard, which is in its 55th year, is the oldest sponsored horse race in Africa and the biggest and only Grade One race in Zimbabwe.