It was fitting that it was a Cape Town trainer, Candice Bass-Robinson, who secured an unique Grade 1 double on the day winning the Cape Flying Championship (1000m) and the Majorca Stakes (1600m) for fillies and mares.
What was even more remarkable was that Bass-Robinson, the daughter of famous South African trainer Mike Bass, won the Cape Flying Championship with a horse who has started just twice with those starts a year apart, then she followed that up with winning the Majorca Stakes with last year’s winner.
Russet Air (SAF), a four-year-old What A Winter gelding, won the Grade 2 Diadem Stakes over 1200m at this meeting last year and has not raced since. Bass-Robinson, however, was able to prepare Russet Air to win again first up after the long time on the sidelines.
The winning margin was a nose over Bold Respect (SAF) (Bold Silvano) with 3/4L to Kasimer (SAF) (Captain Al) in third.
In the fillies and mare’s Grade 1, Clouds Unfold (SAF), last year’s winner of the race and another four-year-old by What A Winter, posted a moderate upset win defeating Celtic Sea (SAF) (Captain Al) by a neck with recent Grade 1 Cartier Paddock Stakes winner Queen Supreme finishing 12th as the favourite. Both winners were ridden by Aldo Domeyer. Clouds Unfold is a home-bred for prominent Drakenstein Stud.
In the Grade 1 Sun Met (2000m) the Vaughan Marshall trained One World (SAF) (Captain Al) under MJ Byleveld, seized the lead in the run for home. The four-year-old entire was headed by Rainbow Bridge (SAF) (Ideal World) under Ryan Moore, but came back to win by a head. Hawwaam (SAF) (Silvano) was third, coming from well back in the field of 13 with 2019 star Do It Again disappointing again with a ninth-place showing.
One World was coming off a pair of seconds behind Vardy in the Grade 2 Green Point Stakes and the Grade 1 L'Ormarin's Queen's Plate. Vardy was sixth in The Met on Saturday.
UK jockey Moore made his debut appearance in South Africa to ride Rainbow Bridge and settled for his third second-place finish in the course of seven days -- on three different continents.
Moore was second by 2 lengths on Magic Wand in the Grade I Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park in Florida on January 25th and second again, by 1 1/4 lengths, aboard More Than This two days later in the Hong Kong Classic Mile at Sha Tin Racecourse.
“Rainbow Bridge ran a great race but I never thought I had it,” said Moore, who had never ridden in South Africa until Saturday.
Byleveld, winning the country’s richest conditions race for the first time, said: “Ryan went a head up on me but I always thought I would hold on.”
The 15-1 winner was the first Met success for 38-year-old Byleveld but the third for trainer Vaughan Marshall, who admitted he might not have run the four-year-old had the owners not pressed him to do so.
He said: “I had my doubts about whether he would stay the ten furlongs so I was in two minds about running him here, but the owners were very keen to do so.”
Meanwhile UK jockey’s Frankie Dettori and James Doyle were out of luck in Asian Racing Federation jurisdiction Bahrain on Friday, with Adrie de Vries instead taking the honours with a big-race treble in Sakhir.
The Dutchman won the feature race, the His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa Cup, on Port Lions, finishing two lengths ahead of Doyle’s mount Rustang, trained by Allan Smith.
Dettori was back in sixth on last year’s winner and the runner-up’s stablemate, Thorkhill Star.
Both Rustang and Thorkhill Star featured in the inaugural Bahrain International Trophy in November, won by the French-trained Royal Julius at the same course with Rustang third.
Dettori fared better on the card when second on News Breaker in the other Cup, run in honour of HRH Prince Salman, which De Vries won on the Fawzi Nass-trained Pulsar.
Nass and De Vries were also on the mark with Al Tariq in the Bahrain Derby, with Dettori back in third on Shawwash.
In other jockey news UK’s champion jockey Oisin Murphy concluded his latest contract in Japan in much the same vein at the top of the jockeys' standings, although he could only finish second in the Grade 3 Negishi Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse.
Murphy, who boosted his immense popularity with the Japanese racing audience when partnering Deirdre to a landmark Group 1 success in the Nassau Stakes at last year's Qatar Goodwood festival, has been riding in Japan with much success in 2020, winning a total of 27 races at a 28 per cent strike-rate.
His haul in Japan puts him four wins in front of the Yuga Kawada in the Asian nation's 2020 jockey rankings, a total which included five winners on Saturday and a double at Tokyo on Sunday.