Val De Ra was found to have bled after Saturday’s Gr 1 Computaform Sprint at Turffontein, in which she was eased out of the race, and has now been officially retired.
Nothing went right for the Equus Sprint Champion after starting favourite in the defence of her crown in the 1000m weight for age event.
“She charged into the gate and I thought she was going to come out the other side,” said Dennis Drier. “She was slowly away after jumping awkwardly whereas she usually jumps about two lengths clear. In fact it looked on TV as if Alec (Forbes) almost fell off. Then later in the race Alec felt there was something obviously amiss and eased her out of it. After the race she was coughing and was very distressed. When we took her back to the stable the tell tale trickle of blood came out of her nostril.”
Val De Ra stayed up in Johannesburg on Saturday night, being too distressed to travel.
The five-year-old Var mare will return to Summerveld and will then join the likes of Mike de Kock’s Champion race filly Igugu in quarantine in Kenilworth in the first step of her journey to Europe, where she will be sent to a suitable stallion.
Val De Ra will have to spend 21 days in vector protected isolation at the Kenilworth Quarantine Station, then she will have to spend 90 days residency in Mauritius before being flown to Europe.
Igugu will be bound by the same export protocol and will have to spend 30 days in Europe before being allowed in Dubai, while the Hong Kong bound horses, will have to spend 60 days in Europe.
Saturday was the second time in her career that Val De Ra had bled, the first being on her second career start as a two-year-old in a 1300m race at Greyville, which was her only career start beyond 1200m.
Drier described her as without doubt the best filly he had ever trained.
“She is certainly the best sprinting female this country has ever seen,” he said. “She has twice travelled to different centres to beat the males in Gr 1 weight-for-age sprints and that is very difficult to do. But she did it all on sheer guts and heart. Who would have thought after that second start in which she bled badly that she would go on to achieve what she did. That night Sean Cormack felt something was not quite right at the 200m mark and yet she still went on to beat My Kazzie, who at the time Mike Azzie thought very highly of. That just went to show the courage she had.”
Val De Ra had 13 starts for eleven wins and a third, including three Gr 1 wins, one Gr 2 win, two Listed wins and a Gr 1 place.
She was renowned for her incredible gate speed, her exceptional pace and the tremendous kick she could produce even off a high cruising speed.
Jockeys therefore had the option of either tearing to the front and building up an unassailable lead on a fast track like Turffontein, which she did when winning last year’s Computaform Sprint, or sitting patiently in the front until challenged and then delivering her kick, knowing she would fight until the line, as she did when winning this year’s Gr 1 Betting World Cape Flying Championship over the tough Kenilworth 1000m and last year’s SA Fillies Sprint over the tough Scottsville 1200m.
Val De Ra was loved by the yard for her incredibly laid back nature, while her resilience brought much admiration from the racing fraternity, for after recovering from the life threatening disease of peritonitis she came back last year to win two Gr 1s.
Photo by Nkosi Nhlope/Gold Circle