Past Master wins J&B Met
Cape Town - Past Master stormed clear in the J&B Met under a fine ride by Gerrit Schlechter to earn a first J&B Met win for the jockey as well as for trainer Darryl Hodgson and owner Hassen Adams.
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According to the Gold Circle website, the legendary Pocket Power made his swansong, but was unsuited by the slow pace and was too far back turning for home to make an impression.
The unlucky horse of the race was the Mike de Kock-trained Mother Russia, who was travelling very easily at the top of the straight but was caught in a pocket. By the time she had been switched for a clear run, Past Master was gone and she couldn’t catch him.
Past Master was fancied for the Queen’s Plate three weeks ago but lost his action at the junction and never recovered his balance.
However, he pulled up sound and has shown no sign of any problem since.
He put up a very nice gallop on Tuesday morning on the Milnerton sand and caught the eye going down to yesterday's start, looking strong and lithe.
Bravura and Tales Of Bravery found themselves in the lead in a slow run race, with Mother Russia behind them and Past Master on her outside.
Next best were Run For It, In Writing, Last Regal, Fort Vogue and Pocket Power.
In the straight Schlechter commendably held his position, keeping Mother Russia, who was full of running, in a pocket.
Schlechter surged at just the right moment and it was clear he was going to be difficult to catch.
Mother Russia was as brave as usual, but didn’t have enough time to make up the leeway, and finished runner up for the second successive year.
The Justin Snaith-trained Run For It ran a fine third for a three-year-old and the Vaughan Marshall-trained Tales Of Bravery held on for fourth.
For an emotional Adams it was a dream come true and he dedicated the win to his late father.
Adams has put a lot into the game and thoroughly deserved the success.
It was a tremendous training feat from Hodgson as Past Master suffered a suspensory ligament injury shortly after winning the Selangor Cup last season.
Hodgson has only trained him since the beginning of this season and had to be very careful with him in training, but still managed to bring him to his peak for his main target, yesterday’s J&B Met.
Schlechter has always regarded Past Master as being better than last year's Cape Guineas winner, Noordhoek Flyer, and the horse's brilliance was further underlined when he won the Diadem Stakes over 1200m with consummate ease, despite it being intended as just a preparation race.
The four-year-old gelding provided the Champion Sire Jet Master with his fifth successive Met win.
He was bred by Hyjo Stud.
Pocket Power paraded between the ninth and 10th races with Bernard Fayd'herbe aboard in the Marsh Shirtliff silks, a fitting tribute that gave the public a chance to say farewell.