Eric Sands’ 2019 Sun Met winner Rainbow Bridge ran the perfect prep for his assault on the Vodacom Durban July in just over three weeks time, when dictating matters and going from gun to tape to register his third Gr1 success in the R425 000 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Sunday.

The big son of Ideal World had not seen race action since his narrow defeat by new Klawervlei sire One World in the Sun Met 21 weeks ago, and while he was workmanlike in a gallop at the track two weeks ago, his veteran trainer was suitably pleased by a smart win in testing circumstances on Sunday.

With nobody keen to go and lead in the seven horse field, Winning Form’s SA log-leader Warren Kennedy showed the confidence and led all the way, with Vardy(5-2) producing a storming late run from some way back down the outside.

Just 0,90 lengths separated the top two with Rainbow Bridge (5-2) never really stretched.

While he turned the tables on his old adversary and defending champion Do It Again, who was 1,30 lengths back in third, Rainbow Bridge’s winning time of 98,38 secs paled against the Snaith runner’s 2019 victory time achieved in 96,39 secs on similarly good ground.

But for the Sands team, and the staunch Rattrays, who are waiting patiently for their first July trophy, it was mission accomplished.

Trainer Eric Sands, who celebrated his 64th birthday on Friday, sent his warmest congratulations to Mr and Mrs Rattray and breeders Mary Slack and her team.

He also thanked Peter Muscutt and Warren Kennedy for the work they had done at Summerveld with Rainbow Bridge in the Milnerton trainer’s absence during lockdown.

Jockey Warren Kennedy, who is finding his winning form again, said that while his mount didn’t quite settle, he enjoyed it in front and was only found wanting in the final 100m – not bad in the circumstances!

A R300 000 National Yearling Sale buy, Rainbow Bridge was bred by Wilgerbosdrift and Mauritzfontein and is a 5yo gelded son of Ideal World (Kingmambo).

The winner is out of the versatile seven-time winner Halfway To Heaven (Jet Master), whose successes included the 2013 Gr3 Prix Du Cap when trained by the same Eric Sands.

SA Champion Broodmare, Halfway To Heaven was set for an extraordinary weekend with her Silvano son Hawwaam winning the Gr1 Premier’s Champions Challenge at Turffontein on Saturday, and another of her progeny Golden Ducat (Philanthropist) running in the Gr1 Daily News 2000 later on Sunday.

Rainbow Bridge has never been out of the money – he has won 8 races with 8 places from 8 starts from 16 starts for stakes of R6 308 125.

Well done to Hollywoodbets for stepping in for their maiden Gr1 race sponsorship.