Drier aiming for Festival Of Speed
Both Dennis Drier and Avontuur Stud have enjoyed prolific success at Scottsville’s big Festival Of Speed meeting, which is to be run this season on July 4.
After the one-two finish of Tempting Fate and Pray For Rain in the Grade 3 Godolphin Barb Stakes over 1100m on Saturday they will each have two trump cards going in to the Grade 1 Tsogo Sun Gold Medallion.
Tempting Fate was Drier’s pick of the CTS Premier Yearling Sale last year and he said he owed the successful bid to Brian Airey.
He recalled, “I stopped bidding and Brian shouted at me ‘Bid, bid!’. I replied, ‘I can’t I don’t have an owner.’ Brian then put his hand up himself and got him, so thank goodness he was sitting at our table.”
Drier and Airey, a former bookmaker who owns a linen company, have been great friends since their twenties and the latter duly kept a share in Tempting Fate.
Another Syndicate member David Abery was involved in breeding Tempting Fate.
The other two syndicate members are Eric Buhr, who part-owned Drier’s Gold Medallion winner of 2012, Potent Power, and Mark Currie.
Drier won six Gold Medallions in the last decade, a race which he also won way back in 1990. His career Grade 1 tally at Scottsville is ten as he also won the Tsogo Sun Sprint once and the SA Fillies Sprint twice last decade.
Drier trained both the sire and dam of Tempting Fate, Master Of My Fate and Miss October, and trained the dam of Pray For Rain, Kitco.
Pray For Rain is by Soft Falling Rain.
Miss October and Kitco are both by Var, the former bred by Robin Bruss’s Northfields Stud and the latter by Avontuur.
Drier said, “I like to stay with the families who were good to me."
Miss October won a Grade 3 and Kitco won two of her first three starts.
He added, "Tempting Fate was an outstanding yearling and Brian knew I wanted him badly.”
Pray For Rain is part-owned by Mauritian “Boulle” Gujadhur. Drier said Boulle phoned Gold Circle CEO Michel Nairac one day with a request for Dennis Drier to buy him a horse. The Gujadhur family are regarded as royalty by Mauritian racing fans and the elderly Boulle is very passionate about the sport. He follows the big races of every major racing country around the world. Boulle recently registered the colours originally owned by his father and Pray For Rain became the first horse to run for him in these colours. ML Jean Hardy, also from Mauritius, is a partner in the horse too.
Tempting Fate and Pray For Rain, both bred by Avontuur, sold at the same sale for R550,000 and R425,000 respectively.
Avontuur also have an enviable record at the Festival of Speed meeting chiefly through their stalwart speed stallion Var. Their newer stallion Oratorio has also added to their list of Grade 1 winners at Scottsville.
Var’s run of Scottsville Grade 1s began in 2008 when the Vaughan Marshall-trained Villandry won the Gold Medallion. He then produced the winner of the SA Fillies Sprint for three years in succession from 2011 to 2013 courtesy of the Drier-trained Val De Ra and the Duncan Howells-trained Via Africa. The latter won it twice in a row. Var also produced the winner of the Tsogo Sun Sprint in both 2012 and 2013 through the Charles Laird-trained pair Contador and Normanz. Then in 2018 the Drier-trained Sommerlied became Var’s career eighth individual Grade 1 winner when winning the SA Fillies Sprint. Eden Roc made it nine when winning the Medallion last year and this season L'Ormarin's Queen's Plate winner Vardy made it ten. The latter, like Var's best ever progeny Variety Club, is not a sprinter.
The stud manager of Avontuur Pippa Mickelburgh often sends a good first-time mare to a proven stallion and follows by sending her to a new stallion.
“We go proven, new, proven, new etc. We bought out Miss October but one of the original owners, David Abery, stayed in. Her first foal by Oratorio was small and we gave her away as a riding pony and we then went with proven stallion Trippi (the result being the filly Spring Break who is a Grade 2 runner up for Sean Tarry). Master Of My Fate was next because for David there was the Dennis connection and we also thought he was a promising new stallion and such stallions need good mares to be given a good start.”
Kitco was sent to Soft Falling Rain at the request of the latter’s syndicate owners as research had shown he would be suited to Var mares.
Mickelburgh called this sort of mating “fire on fire” due to speed and “cheekiness” in the genes of both stallions and said, “It brings the X-factor for speed and has the potential to either produce something brilliant or something stupid.”
Tempting Fate and Pray For Rain have confirmed Var's increasing value as a broodmare sire.
Mickelburgh also has high hopes of winning the Grade 1 Allan Robertson through the Dean Kannemeyer-trained Avontuur-bred Var filly Delta Queen, who appeared to need her run on Saturday in the Strelitzia, where she finished third.
The Paul Peter-trained Eenfontein Stud-bred Var filly Miracle Flight also has a shout in the Allan Robertson.
Meanwhile, Drier could also add to his Scottsville Grade 1 record through Cartel Captain, who finished a close up third in the Grade 2 Post Merchants on Saturday. This progressive gelding is on track for the Grade 1 Tsogo Sun Sprint, which was won by his Drier-trained sire Captain Of All in 2015.
Eden Roc won the Post Merchants so will attempt in the Tsogo Sun Sprint to become the first Var to win two different Grade 1s at Scottsville.
Drier concluded by saying the aim for both Tempting Fate and Pray For Rain had always been the Godolphin Barb and the Medallion, so lockdown had not changed anything.