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As expected, champion miler, Charles Dickens and champ sprinter, Gimme a Prince duked it out in the Hollywoodbets Matchem Stakes at Weight for Age over 1400m with Charles Dickens, the 1/5 odds on, universal exotic banker prevailing by a neck in this early Spring season, Grade 3.

Royal Aussie got past pacesetting white horse, After The Rain, to secure third spot 2.3 lengths back.

“I needed two more strides,” lamented beaten jockey Craig Zackey, as his late dart down the inside just failed to get by Charles Dickens, who had made a decisive early move, first drifting out to the centre of the course, then moving in as he accelerated with purpose. Candice Bass Robinson trained the winner, who has now won nine of 11 starts in top-level SA races, reeling off a succession of truly brilliant ratings.

“He was so fluent; this is really positive as he’s still rusty and not yet at a peak – ahead is a season of a lifetime.” effused reinsman Aldo Domeyer, who again gave the chestnut son of Trippi a perfect steer.

Trainer of the second horse, Dean Kannemeyer, was well-satisfied with Gimme A Prince’s comeback effort after a successful Winter campaign in KZN. “I’m very happy with this performance; he was big and soft in the ring beforehand. I’ll be looking at sprints again during season, but I feel he could be a King’s Plate horse, too.”

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Bass Robinson, Domeyer, and prominent owner/breeders Drakenstein Stud also took out the Grade 3 Hollywoodbets Diana Stakes for fillies and mares at WFA, with another heavy favourite, Golden Hostess who was punted in to 7/10.


The daughter of Gold Standard was positioned midfield before quickening up in the middle of the track to put three comfortable lengths between herself and late-rallying Happy Chance. Three-year-old, Cala Muretta could not go with her older rivals, though she held third place after getting a good stalking trip.

Jock, Domeyer commented post-race, “She’s taken a while to develop but has more substance now. She put up a smart gallop at the course before, and I think there are big things to come this Summer.”


Bass Robinson confirmed that everything fell neatly into place at this less challenging level after repeatedly finding star mare, Princess Calla and top-class, Desert Miracle too hot to handle, “She’s always been there in the big races; this one was made for her, and I’m pleased she has now got Black Type. Golden Hostess is consistent and showed her turn of foot today.’

The Matchem went in 84.63 seconds, as opposed to the slower Diana Stakes where a final time of 85.99 seconds was clocked. Charles Dickens’’ 600m to finish closing sectional was also a full second quicker than that managed by Golden Hostess.


– Written by Mark van Deventer