The Sprint Champion of 2009 - Short Corner

Short Corner came into the family in June 2008.

A trip was organised with Gilbert and a few friends and owners to attend the J & B Met, and visit a few horses in Cape Town through our old friend Colin Palm. On a personal basis, this was that part of the journey that I was really looking forward to - as I had been working on forms of new purchases for a few years, but only knew a retrospective description that Gilbert would give me. And I wanted to feel it myself.

The first stable we visited was not to our expectations, with horses not very well taken care of in my humble opinion. Since we had an agenda of visiting few stables, I was getting a bit disillusioned.

Then we visited the stable of Mr Bill Prestage, a true gentleman, who offered us two horses, namely Short Corner and Skid Row, who seemed to be kept in superb condition. Gilbert immediately had the feel for both of them, and decided we should get them both, as some owners had requested us to buy promising three years old for them.

I personally was a bit doubtful on Short Corner, as I thought the form was too good for the horse to be sold: he had 5 outings for one win and four places, including a place in the listed sophomore sprint, and had only disappointed on soft ground since, leaving us with fantastic ground for improvement with him.

Allan and Isabelle De Spéville were with us in South Africa, but we were originally not destined to buy a young horse, as we had committed to Gilbert to buy a horse for the Duchess and we were considering a ten time winner called “Juan Pablo”.

Things however turned out very differently, as the more we thought about it and the more Allain and I liked the little Short Corner, and when the owner for whom Gilbert was to buy the horse declined, at the same time, the owners of Juan Pablo refusing to sell (who said you needed a bit of luck in racing), we jumped on the opportunity and bought him, with our other partners, namely Jean Michel Caboche Adam and Niven Dyall.

The horse's career in Mauritius started awkwardly to say the least: he had been kept very long in quarantine and the day he arrived, I got a call from Gilbert saying: “Greg, do you remember how this horse looked like in South Africa, because I feel it is not the same horse they sent here!". He was not joking and got me scared to death on that day, I already imagined a very short career for him in Mauritius.

But as track work started we could see the horse was filled with outstanding ability: he was working like a train, and only one horse could work with him at track work, and he was called Mr. Brock.

Amazingly enough, it took him four outings to break his duck in Mauritius - I will never forget the day he recorded his first win, with Anthony Delpech on board, on Maiden Day: we were starting to be a bit worried whether he would ever win one day, but Anthony Delpech was very confident before the race, and he duly obliged, defeating the then unbeaten Pablo quite easily.

From there on, he never disappointed us, winning four in a row in 2009, including a memorable win on international jockey’s day, beating the likes of The Cardinal and others.

Season 2009 started beautifully for him, he had turned into a much bigger and stronger horse, and we were very confident that he would continue his climb up the ladder: he duly obliged, winning two main races at the beginning of the season, making it six in a row and thus equaling the number of successive wins by champion horse Sentinal.

Weight and very hard opposition combined with unfavorable ground conditions put a halt to his rise, but the best was yet to come, and after a few defeats, which caused some tipsters to incautiously write him off, Short Corner bounced back in style to land the Princess Margaret cup, the Sprint Classic of the year, against very good opposition in the best time for the year on the distance, under a masterful ride by Shane.

Picture 1: Short Corner winning the Princess Margaret Cup

Short Corner only ran once after that race, running second after having been taken on all day long by another horse.

 


Picture 2: Short Corner with the owners

 

 

Picture 3: Short Corner

He is due to make his seasonal reappearance very soon, and although we know that we cannot expect as much from him after all he gave us already, we will willingly accept whatever comes our way !


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Article by Gregory Hart de Keating  
   
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