HARARE – Rock The Country broke the hearts of many and equally rewarded brave punters with rich pickings after emerging as a dark horse to clinch the 54th edition of the Castle Tankard here yesterday.
The seven-year-old son of Western Winter galloped to victory in 119.63 seconds, half a length ahead of pre-race favourite Mathematician.
The Gokhan Terzi-trained steed came into the race as a rank outsider on odds 50-1 with not many giving him a chance to land Africa’s oldest sponsored race.
But jockey Hennie Greyling gave the gelding every winning chance over the classic distance of 10 furlongs, approximately 2 000m.
Trainer Terzi was naturally ecstatic saying landing the Castle Tankard was a monumental occasion for him.
“It’s my first time winning this race, and what a pleasure,” he said.
“What a champion Rock The Country is, he’s been consistent for three years and hats off to a very good jockey.
“Also well done to my brother he owns the horse, he puts a lot of money into the game and he deserves all the success. And all the guys in the yard thank you so much.”
Jockey, Greyling, who was also over the moon said the win was a reward for a “hard couple of months” leading up to the race. While Rock The Country hogged the limelight Mathematician and jockey Brendon Mcnaughton will feel they were not far off, having finished second.
The three-year-old Black Minnaloushe gelding is inexperienced with only nine races worth of turf experience in his fledgling career.
Behind Mathematician, was Windigo of Kirk Swanson’s yard on odds 13-1, half a length behind Mathematician.
Eurakilon, placed fourth, a further two-and-a-half yards adrift.
The six-year-old gelding came into the race fresh from an impressive showing during the running of the 1600m Independence Trophy placed fourth two-and-a-half yards out.
Pre-race favourite Flax who had Calvin Habib holding the straps, placed fifth, half a length away from the Terzi-trained Eurakilon.