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By Graham Potter | Sunday, July 24, 2022

The strong work ethic and a desire to keep improving and, most of all, to keep on winning … has been the hallmark of the way Mark Du Plessis goes about his business and, he is currently holding his own on all of those fronts.

Du Plessis rode a double on Saturday, July 9 (Be Water My Friend and Delyth). He then won on I Am Winkles on Sunday July 10.

Three winners for the weekend equals a pretty good return but, two weeks later, Du Plessis would improve on that, pulling in four winners on the weekend of July 23 /24 which included his second Saturday double for the month of July (Puntura and Oakfield Twilight) and yet another double on the Sunday (Port Mourant and Ahika).

Improving … keeping on winning … it is hard to keep that rolling in such a competitive, challenging sport … but Du Plessis’s recent run of results clearly speak for themselves.

Du Plessis’s third double for the month … at the Sunshine Coast on July 24 … came via two horses from the Shaun Dwyer stable.

The Dwyer / Du Plessis combination was quickly on the scoreboard, winning the open race on the card when Port Mourant (the $1.40 favourite) took out a Maiden Handicap over 2200m.

This was the sixth time that Du Plessis had ridden the son of Fiorente … who had shown slow but steady progression in recent months since being asked to step up in distance.

The four-year-old came into the race on the back of two runner-up finishes (when twice beaten by a 0.20 length margin).

The result would be different here with that 0.20 length margin going in his favour this time.

Port Mourant jumped cleaning, settled in third spot some two to three lengths off the lead, all the way until the 600m mark, where Du Plessis switched Port Mourant one wide, moved into second place and then began to give chase after the leader (Rowlette $13) as the field straightened for home.

Rowlette kept kicking and Caiomhe (the $3.90 second favourite) also loomed into contention, making up ground quickly along the inside … and it became a straight three-way fight over the final 200m.

Port Mourant was being tested and he had to stay committed to get the result but, under Du Plessis’s guidance, he was up for the task and edged clear when it mattered most to win by that 0.20 length margin.

Two races later, the Dwyer / Du Plessis team were back in the winners’ enclosure, this time with the Dundeel mare, Ahika, who also started favourite ($2.80) when tackling a Maiden Handicap over 1300m.

Like Port Mourant earlier, Ahika came into her race having finished as a runner-up in her previous start and, again as was the case with Port Mourant, Du Plessis settled Ahika just a couple of lengths off the lead, racing on the rail in fourth and then third place all the way to the sweep to the turn.

The carbon-copy of the Port Mourant ride continued in the approach to the home turn where Du Plessis switched Ahika out one wide, moved into second place and began to give chase after the leader Brazen Breccia ($5.50) as the field straightened for home.

It was the exact race ride description as Du Plessis’s previous winner … and why not when it works so well!

The only difference came in the home straight where, although Brazen Breccia did try to fight on when Du Plessis moved Ahika up alongside the long-time leader, the Dwyer trained runners always had more in hand than her rival and Ahika put that into good effect by drawing away over the closing stages to rubber-stamp her victory with an emphatic 2.80 length margin.

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Port Mourant (above and below)
Port Mourant (above and below)
Ahika (above and below)
Ahika (above and below)
Photos: Graham Potter
Photos: Graham Potter
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