Trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren would have had mixed feelings after the running of Saturday’s R250 000 Gr3 Tony Ruffel Stakes. He had instructed jockey Gavin Lerena who was riding the original odds-on favourite Unparalleled not to give the son of Lateral ‘a hiding.’ But the yard still found the winner – in the form of the 22 to 1 Belong To Me.
The Dingaans winner Unparalleled has looked very promising but he drifted ominously from 8 to 0 into 12 to 10 before the off, as De Kock’s Mutamakkin attracted some attention from 6 to 1 into 7 to 2.
At the same time Unparalleled’s stablemate Belong To Me drifted from 12’s out to 22 to 1. And he was to prove the joker in the pack.
After a level jump, Sean Tarry’s Kapitan led Burg and Mutamakkin, with Mac De Lago and Belong To Me further back in running.
Gavin Lerena had Unparalleled settled in last and some ten lengths off the lead.
Into the straight, Anthony Delpech got Mutamakkin to go first down the inside at the 400m and he looked dangerous as he forged clear.
But in a thriller, Donavan Mansour produced a flying Belong To Me down the middle and he got to the leader and stayed on best to win by a neck in a time of 87,33 secs.
Mutamakkin was attempting to seal the feature double for Aussie breds and stayed on well for second, ahead of Unparalleled, who got going when it was all over.
Jockey Donavan Mansour said that Belong To Me was ‘only 60% ready last time.’
“When the draws were published here, I was more than happy,” he said.
Trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren said the winner had ‘tons of ability’ and praised a ‘fantastic ride.’
“Belong To Me shows so much speed and ran a cracker in the Graham Beck. Of my two horses, the inside track suits him better. I asked Gavin Lerena not to give Unparalleled a hiding. He will come on nicely from this.”
He was purchased by Johan Janse van Vuuren for R170 000 at the Cape R2 million Ready To Run Sale.
Belong To Me was bred by Highlands Stud. James was lucky enough to purchase his dam Along The Nile at a broodmare sale and he has a full brother going to the National Two Year old sale in August.