TRAINER Tobie Spies was delighted, and relieved, when his Gr1 winner Van Halen came back to his best to win Saturday’s Gr3 Man O’War Sprint over 1100m at Turffontein for Denis Schwarz.
Three-year-old Van Halen had failed to fulfil big expectations during a Western Cape campaign in December and January and had Spies looking for answers.
The trainer commented: “Van Halen left Gauteng in excellent form and his work in Cape Town was very good, but he simply failed to deliver on the racetrack.
“He was slow off and lost several lengths in the Cape Guineas, finishing 13 lengths behind Soqrat. You can’t give Guineas horses start and expect to get close.
“He ran a fair race second time out in the Need For Speed Sprint where he gave away chunks of weight and was beaten under five lengths.
“Then, we fancied him to go close in the CTS Sprint but he was lacklustre again, beaten eight lengths by Cirillo. Jockey Warren Kennedy reported that day that Van Halen was travelling beautifully up to the 400m mark and then appeared to dislike the undulations at Kenilworth and faded.
“On Saturday we weren’t too sure what to expect considering the three blotches in his record, but he’d physically blossomed in Cape Town and was working as well as ever, so it was a great relief to see him produce his best again!”
Spies said that the Computaform Sprint could be an option for Van Halen Next, as he has the pace to handle 1000, with the Tsogo Sun Sprint over 1200m at Scottsville in May as the medium-term target.
“He won the Gr1 Gold Medallion at Scottsville, he enjoyed the course so we’d like to go back there.”
Van Halen has won 4 races with 3 places from 13 starts for stakes of R8 22 562. He was a R100 000 graduate at the 2017 Cape Premier Yearling Sale.