Temple Grafin Throws Equus Older Female Award Wide Open
The Glen Kotzen-trained Temple Grafin spoilt what was being viewed as a tiebreaker for the Equus Older Female award by winning the Grade 1 weight for age Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes over 1600m at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Saturday and she is now in line for the award herself.
Keagan de Melo gave her a fine ride to register his 100th winner of the season and his first career Grade 1 victory.
The Duke Of Marmalade filly joined Queen Supreme, Clouds Unfold, Ronnie’s Candy and Celtic Sea as the fifth individual Grade 1 winner of the season in the older female category.
Kotzen has now won the Garden Province three times. His previous victories were with Lady Windermere in 2009 and Princess Victoria in 2012.
Temple Grafin becomes the first South African-bred Grade 1 winner of the Drakenstein Stud-based Duke Of Marmalade and his fifth Grade 1 winner worldwide.
De Melo is lying third on the national jockeys log but is more than a 100 winners behind the runaway leader Warren Kennedy.
He first broke through the 100 winner barrier in the 2016/2017 season and this will be the third time he has achieved the feat.
For statistical purposes he will not be able to surpass his record of 114 winners achieved in the 2017/2018 as the season officially ends on Friday. However, he would no doubt have surpassed it had the season not effectively been shortened by more than two months. His season’s strike rate of 14,27% is the highest he has achieved to date.
De Melo has been viewed as a potential top echelon rider for a long time and having broken the Grade 1 ice the floodgates could open for the talented 26-year-old.
He was awarded the SA Champions Seasons ride of the season last year at the KZN Racing Awards and might be in line for it again after his performance on Temple Grafin on Saturday.
The 40/1 shot jumped well from draw six but was hampered by Celtic Sea, who made a bee line for the rail from draw seven. De Melo was consequently caught wide for a bit but kept his mount settled before slotting in to a midfield position. He brought her down the centre in the straight and under a vigorous ride the four-year-old found the extra to overtake both Pretty Young Thing and Celtic Sea.
Temple Grafin was sold to Laurence Wernars after her third place finish in the Majorca in a deal brokered by Vermaak Equine. Wernars has been an owner for about three decades and this was his third Grade 1 win following Hero’s Honour and Mighty High, who respectively won the SA Derby and Allan Robertson in 2018.
Temple Grafin was bred by Mrs Fran Crowe.
It will be difficult to separate the quintet of Grade 1 winners for the Equus award.
Clouds Unfold won the Grade 1 wfa Bidvest Majorca Stakes over 1600m, beating Celtic Sea by 0,3 lengths and third-placed Temple Grafin by 1,55 lengths. Her best other achievements in the season have been a fourth place finish in the slow run Grade 1 wfa Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge over 1600m against the boys and a 2,5 length second at level weights to Celtic Sea in the Grade 2 Sceptre Stakes over 1200m, a race in which Temple Grafin finished a 9,2 length eleventh. Clouds Unfold ran a disappointing 3,55 length eighth from a wide draw in the Garden Province on Saturday.
Celtic Sea, on top of her Grade 2 win and Grade 1 second mentioned above, also won the Grade 1 SA Fillies Sprint over 1200m and finished second in the Garden Province.
Ronnie’s Candy has won both the Grade 1 wfa HSH Princess Charlene Empress Club Stakes and the Grade 2 Ipi Tombe Challenge, both over 1600m, and finished a 4,25 length second to Queen Supreme in the Grade 3 Yellowwood Handicap over 1800m when giving the latter 7,5kg. She finished sixth in the Garden Province, beaten 3,45 lengths.
Queen Supreme, who was born in the Northern Hemisphere meaning she is six months younger than her contemporaries, has also won the Grade 1 Cartier Paddock Stakes over 1800m, finished second against the boys in the Grade 1 wfa HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m, third in the Empress Club Stakes and fourth against the boys in the Summer Cup.
Temple Grafin’s best other performance, besides her Grade 1 win and Grade 1 third, was fourth in the Grade 3 Poinsettia Stakes.
The respective merit ratings of the quintet are Celtic Sea 126, Clouds Unfold 126 and Queen Supreme 122, while Temple Grafin and Ronnie’s Candy went into the Garden Province rated 118 and 117 respectively. Temple Grafin will undoubtedly be adjusted upward.
Copy: David Thiselton, Gold Circle. Image: Candiese Lenferna Photography