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WILLIAM Longsword emerged as the star from the impressive 2016/17 classic crop when he landed Saturday’s Gr1 Grand Parade Cape Guineas (R1-million) from a wide draw. The imposing three-year-old colt, galloping in the confident hands of MJ Byleveld, shook off most of his rivals with 200m to run and then rallied again late to withstand Gold Standard, a sole challenger in the dying moments of the contest.

“I was always going to ride him positive,” Byleveld said about his stunning win. “I said to Mr Marshall (trainer, Vaughan) before the race that I wanted to use his big stride, I wanted to go up handy. We got a nice gallop, settled in behind Anton Marcus and Table Bay. When we got to the 400m I sensed Anton was in trouble and I knew we had a big chance. He kicked and stayed on well.”

Byleveld said that he’d grown in confidence after William Longsword’s last gallop. “He was very fit and well.  He’d improved, stepped up after his disappointing run in the Selangor, but he’d overreached badly that day and we knew he was better than that.”

Byleveld, who had taken this opportunity with professional enthusiasm, thanked the connections for their faith in him and said: “We have to be Number 2 after Anton, but we’re along for the ride and horses like this makes one get up in the morning!”

Mayfair Speculators paid R2,2-million for William Longsword at the CTS Book 1 Sale in 2015 – he’s by Captain Al from Pagan Princess (Fort Wood), a half-brother to  Real Princess, herself a leading filly of her generation and a Grade 1 winner.  Klawervlei Stud, the Jooste family and Derek Brugman will be looking forward to an exciting career ahead, which may even include an overseas campaign.

Happiness is! Winning connections, in the front row are Derek Brugman, Michael Jooste, MJ Byleveld, John and Lana-Anne Koster. Back is Vaughan Marshall, Adele Alsop, Jenny Marshall. (Wayne Marks).

Marshall, who supplemented William Longsword into the Guineas on 8 December, told Turf Talk on the day that this was a “smart horse, very impressive.  He deserves accolades for getting his charge back to peak fitness after also noting that William Longsword was so sore after the Selangor that he could hardly walk for a few days.

This was a fourth Cape Guineas win for Marshall – he’s trained a winner of this prestigious race once every decade for the last four decades, starting with Sea Warrior (1986), Face North (1990) and Captain Al himself in 2000.

“William Longsword is not as good as Captain Al but he’s a special horse. We’ll wait for Monday, I will sit down and have a long chat with Derek Brugman before we make any decisions,” Marshall commented after the race. Marshall paid tribute to his assistant Adele Alsop and head boy Milo Mfanta for their hard work in preparing the stable’s latest classic hero.

William Longsword has won 5 of 7 starts and R817,500 in stakes. – Turf Talk.

Photo: William Longsword with winning connections. (Wayne Marks)