Skip to main content

 – Written by Mark van Deventer

(Image of DOUBLE SUPERLATIVE and Daniel Muscutt by Chase Liebenberg)

Many punters were down in the dumps after the listless performance of odds-on favourite, SEE IT AGAIN, who (while probably harbouring a virus) failed to pick up his feet, and clocked in a tame fourth in the World Sports Betting Cape Town MET.

However, the MET embodied some of the finest aspects of horse racing: two rejuvenated thoroughbreds bravely fulfilling their potential after serious injuries, and sporting connections handling a crushing defeat graciously.

The victor, DOUBLE SUPERLATIVE, sired by TWICE OVER, overcame both a major tendon injury and life-threatening colic seven months ago to score an amazing triumph. Winning owner Nick Jonsson has already offered fulsome praise to Snaith Racing for their conditioning skills and dedication, jockey Daniel Muscutt for his professionalism and deft judgement, Mike Stewart in Noordhoek for doing pivotal rehab work, plus the expertise and wise counsel of vets John McVeigh and Johnny Cave.

Indeed, Justin Snaith has done a remarkable job of getting the 2021 Cape Guineas winner back on track and able to win another G1. DOUBLE SUPERLATIVE has always shown outstanding talent but this ’24 Met success goes beyond raw ability; it also exemplifies deep reserves of courage and tenacity.

As Nick Jonsson acknowledged publicly, visiting British jockey Muscutt rode a brilliant race. The lanky, wafer-slim marathon-running jock, who has himself overcome terrifying falls and injuries, judged the fractions perfectly. He guided DOUBLE SUPERLATIVE through a just-right 47.3 final 800m, with a race-winning 23.8 second 400m to finish the rally. This final segment included deftly switching in at a crucial opportunity. On such fine margins are races won or lost.

As an aside, eccentric Danish tennis professional, jazz aficionado and mystic, Torben Ulrich, (recently deceased at the age of 95) had a habit of downplaying results, claiming that winning and losing didn’t really matter, saying “It’s just an announcement.”

Instead, the father of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich preferred to immerse himself in the mental intricacies of optimal performance, fine-tune his skills, and let the results take care of themselves.

(Image of RASCALLION with Bernard Fayd’Herbe on the far left by Chase Liebenberg)

For the connections of WSB Cape Town Met 2nd placed, RASCALLION, a sanguine, meditative philosophy such as Ulrich’s was hard to summon after their gallant warrior so nearly pulled off a daring, front-running steal.

Like DOUBLE SUPERLATIVE, the son of VERCINGETORIX had also suffered a bad suspensory injury which necessitated a lengthy lay-off with no guarantee that he could resume racing anywhere near the level that has seen him place multiple times in G1s as a youngster.

Credit is due to trainer Vaughan Marshall for his work with RASCALLION, bringing him back to win the G2 Premier Trophy early in 2023, and extracting such a huge race from his charge in the World Sports Betting Cape Town MET.

Owners, Marsh Shirtliff and Bryn Ressell, together with breeder, Dr Veronique Kritzinger, were not only quick to offer congratulations to team Snaith and owner Nick Jonsson, but expressed gratitude to Marshall and were totally supportive of go-to rider, Fayd Herbe.

The jock did everything right from the extreme outside gate, coming over gradually to lead into the first turn, steadily building up the tempo through the crossover, then dashing towards the outside fence and adopting clever catch-me-if-you-can tactics on RASCALLION.

It nearly paid off: Only DOUBLE SUPERLATIVE in running the final 800m nearly two seconds faster than RASCALLION could get by.

Too often in racing people are quick to make excuses and sling off critically when things go against them. Perhaps that’s understandable given the big money at stake and reputations that are on the line. A place in the history books hinges on making the right moves under pressure.

Still, as difficult as it may be, it’s better to resist the temptation to apportion blame. The wise and whimsical Ulrich believed in transcending the “coulda, shoulda, woulda” recriminations and rather celebrating all that is honourable and character building in sporting competition.

Keeping things in perspective also helps. As fanatical as true fans and participants in this compelling racing game are – it’s only a horse race, after all.

The 2024 World Sports Betting Cape Town MET was a great contest won by the best and bravest horse, the aptly named DOUBLE SUPERLATIVE, delivered in prime condition by trainer Snaith and handled with aplomb by Danny Muscutt. DOUBLE SUPERLATIVE will be retired to Stud as a dual G1 winner and the first son of Twice Over at stud.

And there was honour in defeat for the valiant RASCALLION, backed from 100/1 ante post into an SP of 12/1, his stoic trainer, Marshall, and rider, Fayd’Herbe, who gave it his absolute best tactical shot – yet fell agonizingly short.


#caperacing #wsbmet2024 #wsbmet