Costa Del Sol overcomes early race scare to score a solid debut victory

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 February, 2011, 12:00am

For a horse with virtually nil experience in the bank, Costa Del Sol had every excuse to be in serious trouble when another horse broke down in front of him during the Citibank Credit Card Handicap.

But the Dennis Yip Chor-hong-trained three-year-old highlighted a bright future by overcoming the scare to get balanced again and swamp his rivals to win on debut at a rare 24-1 for Douglas Whyte followers.

It was the highlight on a quiet afternoon for the Durban Demon, but what a highlight it was, with the gelding poised in midfield before Heaven Cent looked to break down under Zac Purton at the 900m. He was retired from the race and later collapsed, but not before he had checked Costa Del Sol and taken Par Excellence completely out of the race. Costa Del Sol had trialled well in Australia under the name Xavier's Dream and moved well since arriving but, at that point, Whyte was harbouring no illusions about winning first-up.

'I had to check and it cost me three lengths at that stage and for a horse having his first run, it was a nasty fright - I didn't think he could win after that so he's done a great job,' Whyte said.

'Had it happened a split second later, Heaven Cent would have taken me completely out of the race like he did to Par Excellence behind us.'

Though yesterday's win came at 1,200m, Whyte believes the son of former star Australian sprinter General Nediym is going to want more ground.

'He isn't a sprinter that's for sure, he feels more like a miler to me. But he's a lovely horse, a nice mover - he just floats under you,' he said.