Captain America wins the Grade 1 Champions Cup
- Mark van Deventer
“That was the last time,” revealed Lance Sherrell, bidding farewell to a heroic Captain America when the seven year old son of Captain Al closed out a stellar career with a dominant Grade 1 winning performance in the Champions Cup at Greyville.
-Photos by Candies Marnewick
Captain America is an owner’s dream, providing infinite pleasure to Mesdames Adam Gurney, Diane Nagle and Delma Sherrell, winning ten races from 35 starts whilst only ever missing the money on five occasions. Stakes received are in excess of R6 million. But, as truly devoted owners know, one cannot put a monetary value on the unique joy-ride and special bond that comes from being associated with such a magnificent, high class thoroughbred.
Jockey Corne Orffer judged things perfectly. By his own admission he rode too conservatively last year when setting slower fractions, allowing stable-mate Sail South to stalk close up then sweep past late. On the advice of his mate, fellow jock Bernard Fayd' Herbe, Orffer rode more assertively this time, “ I let him loose at the 1000m and picked it up again through the 800m. I just let him roll and he blew them away. Captain America is a true champion, the best horse I’ve ridden – and he’s my friend as well.”
Watch race replay and post race below.
Brett Crawford described the powerful pace-pressing galloper as, “a phenomenal horse to train.” In addition to extending a gracious thank you to the owners, he also paid tribute to colleague Peter Muscutt and the rest of the highly professional support staff at Crawford Racing. This Champions Cup is the third Grade 1 this season for the team.
Brett was also mightily impressed with three year old Undercover Agent who completed a stable exacta when sneaking second on the nod from Grade 1 winning contemporaries, Eyes Wide Open and Tap O Noth. “He stepped up to the plate here and has his whole future ahead of him.” During the KZN Winter season, Undercover Agent performed with total dependability, winning the Byerley Turk and Gold Challenge, whilst only just getting nabbed by Perovskia in the Drill Hall Stakes.
Last year’s winner Sail South, gave of his best to run fifth, being lauded by Crawford as, “a great servant to the yard.” Sail South has done wonderfully for the owner/breeder, Dempsey/Pott duo and will now be retired after a sterling career which yielded nine wins from 44 outings. The durable son of Sail from Seattle repeatedly flashed a swift turn of finishing speed to be a persistent threat in top level races around a mile.
These outstanding achievements have propelled Crawford Racing past a century of winners for the 2017/18 season. The team sustained a meritorious strike rate of 14% throughout the year, with a stakes haul sufficient to secure fourth spot on the National Trainer’s rankings.