Monday, 18 June 2012
: With the Vodacom Durban July contenders having a quiet week ahead of the announcement of the final field on Thursday, it was the turn of the sprinters to take centre stage at Greyville on Friday night in the R300 000, Group 2 Post Merchants over 1200m.
Despite some big hitters in the field, including the first and second placed horses in last year's race, Splash Gold and Rebel Knight, it was the turn of ultra consistent Mike's Choice, trained by Michael(Muis) Roberts and ridden very capably by Keagan Latham, to step up to the winner's box.
It was a richly deserved victory for the five-year-old Tamburlaine gelding, who has earned a stake in every one, bar four of his 22 starts. It was a chance ride for Latham, with regular rider and carded jockey, Brandon Lerena, sustaining an injury.
The fourteen horse field jumped on terms with Bielorruso(ARG) and Nicky Roebuck taking the early lead from barrier nine, followed on the rail by the short priced favourite, Sports Coach and Anton Marcus.
Mike's Choice and Latham settled midfield together with Copper Parade and Sean Cormack.
Turning for home, Bielorruso still had the lead, but behind him, the field fanned out with challenges coming thick and fast. Marcus peeled Sports Coach off the rails and set off after the leader, while Rebel Knight and Robbie Fradd ran on strongly from the rear of the field.
At the 200m mark there was a wall of horses spread across the course. It looked as if Fradd and Rebel Knight, was just going to get the better of a flying Sports Coach.
Meanwhile Latham had wisely decided to stay out of trouble with a horse that only has a short finishing burst. He waited patiently before steering Mike's Choice up the outside and into the lead.
Rebel Knight was once more relegated to the second box, with Sport Coach and Copper Parade, filling the third and fourth spots. Mike's Choice stopped the clock in 70.47 seconds, with the distances 0.25L, 0.5L and 0.25L.
“It was a bit of a bumpy, bargy race, but he did not get caught in the dog fight. He quickened up very nicely and Mr Roberts gave me good riding instructions”, commented Latham.
“He is an easy horse to ride. You have to have patience with him as you cannot hit the front too soon, but you also cannot wait too long. Everything just went right for him today”, added Roberts.
Mike's Choice, out of the Shoe Danzig mare, Jukao, recorded his fifth win from 22 starts, taking his earnings to R500,100 for owners Messrs M V Dawson, M J Proctor, Dr B D Sarembock and Fieldspring Racing.
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