When Champagne Haze swept to victory in the Gr.3 Tommy Hotspur Handicap, it brought back fond memories for trainer Gary Alexander. After all, the sprint was named in honour of his star sprinter of the nineties. His 10 victories included the Gr.1 Computaform Sprint, a race Alexander no doubt will now have in mind as a target for his Tommy Hotspur winner.
Completely outpaced early on, Champagne Haze was stone last as Rebel’s Champ (Rebel King), last year’s winner Wrecking Ball (Great Britain) and Greasepaint (Kahal) set the pace. The latter looked to have the race wrapped up when he hit the front approaching the final furlong. Lyle Hewitson. however, angled Champagne Haze to the outside and the pair swept into the lead to win going away by a length and a half. Greasepaint held on for second, a long-head in front of Pure Blonde, to make it a clean sweep for the late top-five stallion Kahal. Champagne Haze and Pure Blonde are both owned by Lawrence Wernars, who was on course to lead his charge into the number one box.
This was the winner’s first victory over the minimum distance and was intended as a prep run for his defence of next month’s Senor Santa. “The Senor Santa is run over 160m. I thought this distance would be too short for him,” Alexander said. “Quite honestly, I would have been happy had he run fifth or sixth.”
Champagne Haze is now a six-time winner, this latest success pushing his earnings past the R2.2 million mark, a fine return on the R280,000 he cost as a breeze-up. Bred at Summerhill Stud, the five-year-old is one of 42 Stakes winners sired by its much-missed former stalwart Kahal and is out of the prolific four-time winner Vin Fizz (Qui Danzig), whose eight winners from as many runners also include the popular Alexander-trained Gr.1 winner Pierre Jourdan (Parade Leader) and last year’s Oaks Trial victress Belle Rose (Golden Sword).