Tag Archives: Kenilworth

Betting Preview: G1 Cape Town Met 2023

A Met for the ages – South Africa’s premier race over the 2.000m distance is full of star quality: 11 Grade 1 winners line up!

That includes last years first three home, plus the reigning Durban July champion, with the added excitement of top-class 3-year-old contenders taking on their elders.

As exciting as the field is, as underwhelming is the likely pace scenario. Few want to race close up, even fewer are confirmed front-runners. This could turn out to be a muddling affair and makes the analysis of the race tricky.

Make It Snappy: all week the favourite for the race. Ever since she won the Fillies’ Grade 1 Paddock Stakes three weeks ago, beating wonder mare Captain’s Ransom nicely from the front.

She is likely to move forward. She likes to have her own way from the front. The #2 draw is a great help. The trip isn’t a worry, she stays but has shown to have the speed to win Guineas.

The filly will get the ideal trip. She is the prime contender with her ultra-light weight. Fillies have a strong record in this race, too. The only question mark: is she good enough against the big boys?

Her merit rating, if factored in WFA and fillies’ allowance, says she very much is. No doubt, Make It Snappy is the one to beat.

Jet Dark: the second highest rated horse in the race. A class-act, with four Grade 1 victories to his name, he has got stellar form from the mile all the way to the July trip, where finished a fast finishing runner-up last year.

He’s likely to be primed for his final race before heading to stud, although is prep didn’t go totally to plan. Perhaps that was the reason why he only managed to finish 3rd in the King’s Plate earlier this month, a race he won back-to-back the years prior.

In saying that, the King’s Plate was an incredibly competitive renewal, and there was no shame to finish 3rd behind Charles Dickens and shock winner Al Muthana. On the other hand, a 1.5 lengths defeat, may show that he isn’t quite the force he used to be?

Kommetdieding: the defending champion. Won this race ahead of Jet Dark 12 months ago. The ultra-professional, consistent horse, a Durban July winner, will head to stud right after this race as well.

His prep couldn’t have gone much better, one would think. After a pipe opener over 6 furlongs, he ran lovely races in the Green Point Stakes as well as when 4th in the King’s Plate, less than two lengths beaten.

He is a better horse over this 2.000m trip, though, hence it’s noteworthy how well he ran over the shorter distances leading up to this race.

The 5-year-old looks as good as ever. He sets the standard in this field. Even though he hasn’t won since landing the Met last year, he ran mostly to a high level of form.

What’s intriguing about him is the ability to race up with the pace. He has a solid low draw, and is one of the few in this field likely to get the ideal trip. He’ll probably track Make It Snappy all the way, and then it will be a matter of how good the filly is.

Cousin Casey: the other three-year-old in this field. he was an outstanding juvenile, won the Premiers Champions Stakes and has returned in fine form this season, landing a Grade 3, before only finding Charles Dickens too strong in the Cape Guineas.

That performance warrants and upgrade, as he didn’t get an ideal race from a wide draw, and he made his challenge against the inside rail, while not having the clearest of runs.

He could improve for the step up in trip and clearly has the speed to feature strongly. His wide draw and likely racing position off the pace will make life tricky for Grant Van Niekerk, though.

Others Runners: he was 80/1 on the day, three weeks ago in the King#s Plate – is it a mistake to underestimate Al Muthana again? He caused the major upset in the King’s Plate, and is once again a longshot today. In truth, though, this 2.000m trip isn’t his optimum, and he will need luck from his draw.

Reigning Durban July heroine Sparkling Water seems to hit peak form after some solid prep runs. This trip is more what she wants as well. If they go hard up front then she would have a much better chance, though. In a slowly run race she may struggle.

Linebacker was third in the Met last year. he seems to have lost his way a little bit and is hard to fancy if judged on recent form. Rascallion won the Grade 2 Anthonij Rupert Wyne Premier Trophy three weeks ago. The additional furlong may stretch him, but even more than the trip it’s gonna be #17 draw that is a real issue today.

Last years Cape Derby runner-up Universal has only run three times since then. He seems to hit form at the right time, having performed well as a runner-up in the Green-Point Stakes and when less than a lengths behind Rascallion recently.

Veteran Do It Again has been around for a long time. He still runs to a good standard consistently. If his past record is a guide, though, he will struggle over this course and distance.

It’s hard to make a serious case for any other horse in the field. Zapatillas, last years Guineas winner is equally hard to fancy as it last years Cape Derby hero Pomp And Power, who seems to have lost some of his zest.

Christophe Soumillon is riding Golden Ducat from the #1 gate. The 7-year-old is a good deal off his past 128 Merit Rating; certainly on current form. However, if he sits close to the pace, he’s perhaps a surprise place chance.

Verdict:

This is all about the filly Make It Snappy and how much she can improve now that is going to meet the boys – and very much the absolute best of South Africa’s older horses.

She will get the run of the race and with that in mind 7/2 is a fair price. There is some 4/1 on the Exchanges, and that looks a touch over the top, even.

At the same time, this improvement is very much factored into the price. With that in mind, all week I was hoping to get inflated odds for the defending champion Kommetdieding.

His price went only one way all week, hence I was even more delighted to find Starsports offering a generous 6/1. That is about two points bigger than I would have imagined him to be.

Kommetdieding is likely to enjoy a near perfect race too. A good draw, he can sit handily, track the pace, and then from 500m out, will be asked for his effort, which will be as honest as ever. He doesn’t stop, he races hard to the line.

10pts win – Kommetdieding @ 6/1

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Photo Credit TBD

Kenilworth Selections: King’s Plate Day 2023

A brilliant day of racing at Kenilworth today: two competitive Grade 2’s, and two hot Grade 1 contests, including the King’s Plate. Christophe Soumillon is also here, back in the saddle for the first time since THE incident.

We will see the mouthwatering clash of wonder mare Captain’s Ransom going against the up an coming 3-year-old Make It Snappy, with Durban July winner Sparkling Water thrown in for good measure in the Grade 1 Paddock Stakes.

Obviously the Queen’s Plate and the return of Charles Dickens is what everyone wants to see. I am desperately exciting to find out whether this colt is the superstar he promises to be.

………..

2.10 – Grade 1 King’s Plate, 1 mile

The race everyone has been waiting for: superstar 3-year-old colt Charles Dickens takes on the best of South Africa’s older horses to find whether he truly is the real deal, the best in a long time, perhaps ever, as he promised to be in his six most scintillating career runs to date.

Before we get to crown Charles Dickens the king – how fitting for the new name of race after the death of the British queen – it must be said this years King’s Plate is packed with superstar older horses. This won’t be a walk in the park.

The Runners:

Jet Dark: won this race the last two years in a row. The best miler/middle-distance horse in South Africa at the moment. Comes here fresher than others not having seen since winning a Grade 3 in early November.

Looked as good as ever there, after winning two Grade 1’s last year and ran a huge race in the Durban July as runner-up over a trip that stretched his stamina to the limits. Would be hot favourite without Charles Dickens in the race.

Kommetdieding – commonly known as the “people’s horse”. The 2021 Durban July winner, and last years Met winner. Didn’t win again since last January’s Met success, but often fought heroically in defeat.

Had a lovely prep run in the Green Point Stakes. Will need this to run at a red hot pace. He’s better over further, could be found out for speed today.

Golden Ducat – won in 2020 the Cape Derby and Champion Cup. Usually competitive but probably just below top level these days, especially over a mile. Solid prep run in the Green Point, though.

Linebacker – Memories of his spectacular 3-year-old season fading fast. In 2021 he won the Guineas, Cape Derby and Daily News. Bit unlucky in the Durban July the last two years, but certainly better over 10 furlongs than a mile against the very best.

Trip Of Fortune – won three of his last four and seems still progressing. Took his form to new heights when landing the slowly run Green Point Stakes last time out, a first success over a mile. Will need it to be a dawdle again to feature.

Also running are last years Guineas winner Zapatillas, who only has been seen once since that May victory. Will find this too hot, most likely. Al Muthana makes more appeal as a place chance if he could run anywhere near last June’s G1 Gold Challenge Cup winning form. Hard to make a case for Russian Rock and Speed Machine.

Charles Dickens:

Unbeaten in six starts, he quickly has become the hottest equine property South African racing has seen in a long time. He’s already compared to the legendary Variety Club, and many think as good, if not potentially better, than the monster that was Horse Chestnut.

You can see why: from 5 furlongs to a mile Charles Dickens managed to win. Bar a slightly scary debut over the minimum trip, when he was still seriously green, he been the most impressive horse ever since.

Certainly since landing the Grade 3 Cape Classic on the bridle he looked to be something special. Last month the son of Trippi stepped up to a mile and up into Grade 1 company in the Cape Guineas. He had to answer two questions: does he stay the trip, and can he prove against the best 3-year-old colts?

He very much did. Even though he was a bit keen early on, he travelled sweetly well off the pace, was covered up until two furlongs from home, before pulled out wide.

What happened then was simply sensational. He destroyed his rivals with a devastating turn of foot to win handsomely by 4¼; but he could have won by the lengths of the straight if ridden out.

Charles Dickens looks a freak. He’s, no doubt the best colt I have seen in a very long time. Obviously I love a good colt from South Africa, have a soft spot for the racing there. This lad is special.

Yes, he’s got to prove it today. He takes on the very best. Jet Dark is a brilliant horse. If he can beaten him, then all the hype will be more than warranted.

I believe with the weight allowance Charles Dickens has in his favour today and the level of performances he has shown so far, he’s nearly unbeatable today. I don’t say this lightly.

Backing him at close to 1/2 isn’t a serious bet, I must say. It’s simply one I want to do because I want to be on this horse. It’s pure emotion…. Fly Charles Dickens…. fly.

10pts win – Charles Dickens @ 1.55

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1.00 – G2 Anthonij Rupert Wyne Premier Trophy, 9f

13 go to post. This is super competitive. Not my type of race. There a few that caught the eye in their latest run, and there is, of course, star veteran Do It Again. Can he do it again? He sets the standard, still, but is an 8-year-old now.

Last years Cape Derby win Pomp And Power is probably the most talented individual, though, his behavioural issues are well documented. he ran poorly the last two, and the words from the yard that some of the fire isn’t quite there as it used to, is a concern.

On form Universal is the one to beat. Won over this course and distance in grade 3 company last year, and improved nicely for a tame comeback run when last seen an excellent runner-up in the Grade Green Point Stakes. He’s likely to get an ideal trip. Not much not to like, except that he rarely finishes strong, and could be vulnerable to a fast finisher.

That could be the one I am seriously sweet on: Airways Law. I backed him as a longshot in the Durban July last summer, when he came into South Africa’s Premier race as an unproven, yet exciting improver.

He ran a massive race that day, finishing 6th from off the pace, making fantastic progress in the final 3 furlongs. He ran the 4th fastest split for final 400m, only 0.2s slower than fastest finisher, class act Jet Dark, despite getting quite tiered in the the last 100 yards.

Sure, the low weight helped, but he ran on well against a pace bias, and it showed he can mix it with the best horses.

Leading up to the July he won three on the bounce, mainly on the All-Weather. Doing so in the most exciting style thanks to a devastating turn of foot. He is a strong traveller, who can change gear in an instant. In 7 of his 10 career runs did he clock the fastest final 400m splits.

Still quit unexposed on turf, this will only be his fifth start on grass, although, he’s already a Grade 3 winner on the surface over the 9f trip.

After the July he got a nice break, returned in December in a Grade 2 Handicap over this CD. He made a bit of late headway, but it was clear the run was badly needed.

He should strip much fitter and one would think connections have eyed this race. Jockey Gareth Wright is back in the saddle too – knows this horse really well from riding all five wins.

One could argue Airways Law has a bit to find with the very best here on the weights. However, I think there is good chance he can still improve a bit. He’s a super price to find out whether he’s a good one in this class.

10pts win – Airways Law @ 14/1

……….

1.35 – Grade 1 Paddock Stakes, 9f

Superstar filly Captain’s Ransom is a short price favourite to land her 14th career victory in then 17 starts. An outstanding record, especially against her own sex she is tough to beat. She also loves Kenilworth.

But 9 furlongs is close to her stamina limit. She has won this race last year, but her very best comes over shorter and this looks a strong renewal. In her favour maybe the lack of pace. At prices I am happy to take her on, as she isn’t getting younger, either.

Sparkling Water the reigning Durban July champion hasn’t been quite that good in two runs since, and this trip is on the sharp side for her.

More appeal makes 5-year-old Marina. She is 4 from 7 over this course and distance and had a lovely prep. She is a big runner.

She was beaten back in November, however, in the Summer Bowl by rapidly improving 3-year-old filly Make It Snappy. There is 4.5kg turnaround in the weights, but the younger rival only races for the fifth time today and steps up in trip to 1.900m for the first time.

When last seen, she won the Fillies’ Guineas in fine style, which followed her Summer Bowl victory. She sees out a mile really well and as a daughter of Dynasty should have the required stamina for the additional furlong.

Her dam’s only other offspring won over 9 furlongs as well, so I don’t see an issue with the trip, at all. Her prominent racing style should be an advantage in a race where not many want to move forward, I reckon.

She can kick nicely from the front, as seen in the Bowl, where she ran the final 400m the fastest, despite having made all.

Of course she has to prove that she truly belongs here, now taking on the best older fillies. However, she is improving all the time, is nicely bred for the job, and with the WFA allowance could be hard to beat I believe. I’d make her a 2/1 shot in this field.

10pts win – Make It Snappy @ 7/2

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Picture Copyright: CANDIESE LENFERNA

The Good, Bad & Ugly – Week #1:2019

It’s a new year – the time for a New Year’s Resolution: be more active on the blog again! Plain and simple.

The last year in particular I’ve focused on the betting side neglecting the other rather important side of why I initially started this blog a good eight years ago: to write about all the things I love about horse racing – the sport, the horses, the global aspect of the game!

So, with the new year still fresh, I gonna try to be a bit more (pro-) active: a few more insightful (hopefully!) columns, opinion pieces, educational stuff and so on – starting with the introduction of a new weekly column right here:

The Good, Bad & Ugly – a short review of all the good and not so good things in racing that caught my eye and lit up my emotions during the past week. Let’s get started with Week #1:2019!

good.pngThe Good:

Do It Again – he did it again, indeed! This imperious looking son of the great Twice Over and reigning Durban July champion, has followed up on his biggest triumph with another massive success.

On Saturday he was one of nine starters in South Africa’s premier 1 mile race, the Queen’s Plate, that took place at Kenilworth racecourse.

The powerful gelding overcame a slow pace and produced another stunning performance to get his head in front when it mattered most:


The Candy Man
– What a lovely name for a horse, isn’t it? The performance of this lad in a Handicap on Sunday at Australia’s Sunshine Coast was certainly as sweet as candy!

The grey missed the start completely, still standing in the gates while the others flew out to race. He was trailing the field by half a dozen lengths for half the race, until making a swift move to the rear of the field as the pace slowed. He then unleashed a devastating turn of foot in the home straight – WOW!

Watch a replay of this unreal performance here.

First winner of 2019 – It was the perfect start: first bet, first winner! Paparazzi strolled home on Wednesday in a Newcastle handicap to win as easy as he liked, despite a 12/1 price tag.

It’s those magic moments when the picture you painted in your mind beforehand comes to fruition in reality, as I concluded in the preview:

“This is the poorest opposition Paparazzi will encounter for quite some time. If a slow start doesn’t see him falling back too far too early he should run a huge race today.”

bad2The Bad:

Racing’s Staff Crisis – Becomes one of the biggest threats to the industry. It was reported over the weekend that there’s an estimated shortfall of around 1,000 staff in the UK. Brexit fears enhance the feeling of uncertainty in relation to employing foreign staff to offset the shortfall in yards.

Often long hours, not enough off-days and low pay – those are the main concerns brought forward. Understandably so: the stable staff is preparing the horses day in day out, hence they play a pivotal role in the industry.

If they can’t be retained in numbers enough to keep the show going, plus if the jobs aren’t attractive enough for new people to join, then the game is in incredible danger. Falling prize-money surely isn’t helping, particularly for smaller yards it adds even more pressure.

A viscous cycle: working long hours, physical work, often starting very early in the morning, ordinary pay at best – that isn’t attractive to a lot of young people these days.

Stable staff does it for the love of horses. Without this love and duty of care for the welfare of our equine athletes these wonderful people show any given day, horse racing would be long gone.

Add to this the rather low pay at times where everything else becomes more expensive and the possibility of Brexit which could make it harder for yards to employ foreign staff – there you have an existential crisis.

It was surprising to see it so blatantly called out by the biggest names in the sport over the weekend. Nicky Henderson commented that the threat is no longer only a threat but  it “has already become a reality”.

Now, not everything is black and white. Not all staff are impacted by issues the same way. Plenty love their job, enjoy their day to day doing, are paid well enough and feel treated fairly.

Not all, though, and there is, no doubt, a balanced and fair discussion needed right now – a solution oriented one that addresses issues. Because the issue of staff shortage is at the heart of the game.

badThe Ugly:

 A Bad Loss – “I’m excited as heck because I feel Blue Harmony could be supremely well handicapped in this race!”

I got that spectacularly wrong. Blue Harmony finished nearly last, never went a yard. There was zero confidence in the market either. The filly was obviously not as well in as I felt she is.

Well, that’s racing. Can happen. It was a 16/1 shot. But it hurts. Particularly if you go and shout it so loud as I did in my preview.

Irish racing video archive – Gone. Since Racing TV has taken over the rights to show Irish racing, the complete video archive of all races prior to 1st January 2019 are no longer accessible – neither on ATR, the Racing Post- and Sportinglife website and certainly not on the RTV site.

You couldn’t make it up, could you? They had months and months time to prepare for this transition. But they didn’t seem to think about this rather important piece – or shall we say didn’t care – which shows a complete disregard for the racing public.

Please also read my latest opinion piece on the matter: Racing’s Problems bigger than ATR vs RTV

Got your own ideas of what was good or not so good in the the last week? Want to share feedback? Let me know in the comments! 

Saturday Relfections: Oooooh Susannaaaa!

The losing run (12) broken – 2 winners, both sweet in their own right. Fiery Breath (9/2), backed before the off as if defeat was out of question, got there in a thriller. No doubt, the highlight of the day was Oh Susanna (5/1), running away with the Met at Kenilworth!

When this 3-year old filly won the Paddock Stakes three weeks ago, I thought she’s got the making of a superstar, if stepping up in trip. Connections duly obliged, entering her in the Grade 1 Sun Met – I could not wait to get a price for her in that race!

It was a long wait as European bookies didn’t price the race up until Saturday morning. But with so many things speaking in her favour, as outlined in my preview, I thought the price offered was too generous. In fact, she even went off 6/1SP!

Oh Susanna Makes History

Oh Susanna made history: a three year old filly winning the Met – that didn’t happen for over a 100 years. It’s an incredibly difficult task, in South Africa’s richest race, for a young horse to prevail against, hardy, experienced top-class rivals.

It shows what special talent she is. You only have to watch the replay to see it with your own eyes. She is still so raw, babyish, making life tough for her rider.

Halfway through the race, still pulling hard, then, when the pace increases over three furlongs out she seems to hit a flat spot. Seemingly, but not really, as moments later she hits sixth gear and simply runs away with it. Leaving Grant Van Niekerk once again celebrating long before the winning post!

Unbeatable Gun Runner

It didn’t turn out to be profitable for me personally, as Sharp Azteca completely flopped, however as a racing fan you couldn’t be not in awe with the performance Gun Runner put up in his final race in the $16 million Pegasus World Cup.

The freshly crowned American Horse of the Year overcame his wide draw – what many thought to be a death trap – with ease to be up with the pace without using too much energy right before the first turn.

The supposed early speed from Sharp Azteca was taken out as Collected moved forward quickly, while the star miler got also hindered in his own way forward by the crossing Gun Runner. That killed pretty much his chances – and my money went down the drain.

Second favourite West Coast was right there as well, however, when the money was down, was once again no match for the superstar that Gun Runner is – not only winning the richest horse race on earth, but also setting off to a new career after winning six Grade 1 races on the bounce. WOW! Simple as that.

Preview: Kenilworth – 2018 Sun Met

Amid controversy around leading owner Marcus Jooste it seems increasingly difficult for South African racing to focus on what matters most: the sport. Regardless, the Sun Met remains a special race and a special contest we’re sure to have on our hands on Saturday!

Reigning horse of the year and hot favourite Legal Eagle couldn’t be in better form after an incredible run in the Queen’s Plate over a mile at this track earlier this month.

Legal Eagle is widely regarded as one of the best milers South Africa has seen in a while and that is also the question mark: the step up to 2.000 meter. It is true that he has won over this trip – five runs, two wins, three runner-up efforts – two of them came in the Met the last two years, though!

So, the Eagle has no problem stretching out to 10 furlongs, but is certainly vulnerable, especially in top class company. The draw hasn’t been kind to him – 15 is a tough ask. However he has obvious gate speed and if there isn’t too much pace on in the early parts of the race it’ll certainly help him more than anyone.

We know Legal Eagle is high class, we know he will bring his best to the table, he is the highest rated horse in the country and could make it third time lucky on Saturday – still I have to take him on.

Last seasons Durban July winner Marinaresco has been dealt a 13 draw. He finished fifth in the Met last year but had a nice prep recently when staying on really well in the Queen’s Plate. He could come with a late burst to finish at least in the money. He’s no more than a fair price in my book, though, as he simply might come too late the party from a long way back.

Lightly raced and fast improving Last Winter is an intriguing contender. He made an easy transition from Handicaps  right into Grade 2 company when last seen, however  to be drawn in the car park is a massive blow to his chances. He has to be exceptional in order to win from stall 20.

African Night Sky operates at a 50% strike rate and won three Grade 3 contests last year. Fair comeback run in the Queen’s Plate, but is he good enough to land a top-class middle-distance contest? I doubt it.

The one I’m interested for a while is the light-weight in the race; with low mileage on the clock, Oh Susanna raced seven times today, having won two of them. She looked, however, different proposition when stepping up to 1.800m in the Grade 1 Paddock Stakes on Queen’s Plate Day earlier this month.

She had a good draw in five and was therefore in a good position early on, however, at the same time, she was literally tanking her way forward, being a handful for her jockey. She continued to pull for most parts of the race, which made it even more impressive how easily she won in the end, leaving van Niekerk to celebrate early.

Now stepping up against the boys – on Handicap terms she would have a bit to find with some of the top rated horses in the race. A light weight of 51.5kg with potential improvement for experience and trip could easily offset that, though.

On pedigree a step up to 10f should certainly suit. She is quite well bred with plenty more to come over this new trip. Question mark is how she will settle over this longer distance, when there is little pace early on. If she finds an early rhythm from a good draw, then, I believe, she has enough quality to go all the way.

Selection:
10pts win – Oh Susanna @ 5/1 Bet365

Speed Limit exceeded at Kenilworth

brilliant_crimson-cts-jul

3.55 Kenilworth: MR 85, 1.600m

An open enough looking contest, though you have to give the advantage to the three year olds, given they receive and handful of weight and are seemingly more talented than the majority of older horses in this contest.

The two top rated older horses Mountain Master and Waiting For Rain are dropping in the ratings though and if they run up to their best have excellent chances to feature.

However the 91 rated 3yo colt Fifty Cents is very much favoured to take the step up in trip in his strides. He’s a fair chance on pedigree and seemed to stay 1.400m thoroughly the last time.

I very much like the other three year Speed Limit, though, who has already won over course and distance and stayed 1.60om very strongly when getting off the mark in a maiden the last time.

His opening mark off 83 is stiff enough, but Speed Limit has the assistance of top drawer Anthony Delpech today. That in itself seems a vote of confidence. At 7/1 he is the value in the race in my mind.

Speed Limit @ 7/1 William Hill – 5pts Winner

Preview: 2016 Queen’s Plate

finishding

Fasten your seatbelt – the 2016 Queen’s Plate will take you for a ride! It’s gonna be fast and furious! South Africa’s best milers; no hiding place as they’re all there to land the big price!

Last years brilliant winner Futura, currently the highest rated horse in the country, is trading as the favourite at this point in time. That doesn’t come a shock, given Futura seems well in himself after an excellent prep run in the Green Point Stakes.

He finished second behind eventual winner Captain America that day, who himself will have a good crack at it today. The son of of Captain Al used to be headstrong and keen earlier in his career, but wiser and more settled now, he’s become a proper Grade 1 horse. He’s likely to attempt to make all.

The outcome of the race could very much evolve around 2014 Durban July winner Legislate. The former horse of the year had a troubled 2015 season, but is reportedly in good shape at the moment. His record as a fresh horse is notably strong and talent wise he’s probably the best horse in South Africa; he has the speed to be a world-class miler, plus the stamina to stay and win over the demanding July trip.

Last years Derby winner Legal Eagle can’t be taken lightly either, although he’s best suited to distances beyond 1.600m and his trainer didn’t make a secret of the fact that this race is a stepping stone towards the J&B Met. However Anton Marcus jumps on board, which is a significant move.

This comes a bit a surprise given that Marcus is also associated with another leading contender, Act Of War. It’s certainly not a vote of confidence in last seasons Cape Guineas winner. Future prospects may have to do with that, so could have the bad draw that AOF has to deal with today. From a similar unkind scenario he stayed on well in the Green Point the last time, though.

Not fully to be ruled out is Summer Cup winner Mister Sabina, who overcame a troubled passage in the big Grade 1. He’s better over further ,however, and may need this run. The Met is his main target.

Only one three year old tries to take on the best in class – Mike De Kock’s Noah From Goa has been a big surprise in recent weeks and month, improving dramatically from race to race. The Dingaans and Cape Guineas winner receives plenty of weight from the older rivals, however it usually is a tough task for three year olds a to be competitive in this type of race t this point of the year.

Prediction: There should be plenty of pace in the race given that a handful of runners want to be up with the speed. Expect Captain America to cross over from his wide draw pretty soon after the start. Legislate on his heels most likely, followed by Noah From Goah. That says Futura shouldn’t be too far off either.

The set-up of the race and the longer straight on the outer course could help those having to hope to feature from off the pace. Still, I expect the race to be won by those close to the speed. That means all the top contenders are likely to be in contention when it really matters and that should make for an exciting finish.

If Legislate is at his best, and he can be as a fresh horse with his record, he’s the winner and hard to beat. In my view, if Futura and Legislate are both 100%, the later one wins. But there are the questions marks about his soundness, given he was lame only three month ago.

So is it wise to go against Futura then? Maybe not, however he’s a short enough price given the competitiveness of this race. Yes, he won this making handstands last year, but value wise I can’t ignore the fact that he has to give 5kg to exiting three year old Noah From Goa.

De Kock supplemented the gelding for the race; you simply have to take notice then. Also he seems to grow fast. I liked the look of him at the Guineas, and his performance was superb that day, finding more once hitting the front. He looks more like a grinder, but that should be a perfect fit for the way I expect this race to be run. At 9/1 Noah From Goa is too big a price to ignore for me.

Noah From Goa @ 9/1 William Hill – 5pts Win

Fire Master can overcome big weight

Didn’t tip many winners in recent days, but The Hangman went in yesterday at Vaal at advised 10/1 odds! He clearly found something back of his former best and was a rather easy winner in the end. Because it worked yesterday, I gonna stick with South Africa today again

The 1.40 on a rather low grade Kenilworth card looks set up for one of the three year olds to take. The older horses are largely exposed and didn’t show anything that instils confidence in them, neithert hat they’d be able to produce anything better than the level they have performed to so far.

Favourite Sail For Gold looks pretty short though, given the fact that he had nine career starts already without looking all that progressive. He won a maiden race over a mile on his penultimate run and performed with credit on handicap debut and he may have still a bit more to offer dropping to 1.400m, but for all of that he is a good deal too short. Around Not Across makes more appeal on his Handicap debut after winning over 1.200m a maiden in fine form. Opening mark looks fair and stepping up in trip may well suit on only his fourth career start. However he is also a pretty short price.

Fire Master looks a pretty big price in comparison. He is also still lightly raced, won a maiden over 1.200m in good style and followed up with a strong performance in a MR77 Handicap stepping up to a mile, when he was less than two lengths beaten in third in the end. He was disappointing subsequently, but something was amiss in the latest and if he can reproduce his penultimate run, he must be in with a big chance as he is dropping in class today and is the highest rated individual here. He could have still plenty of improvement left, dropping to more suitable 1.400m should work in his favour. The downside is that he has 61.5kg to shoulder which is massive obviously.

But he is not giving too much weight away to the other 3yo’s which are all on big weights here due to the fact that is actually only a MR72 and the older horses a group of poor individuals. On balance, he should be a good deal shorter in the betting in my mind.

1.40 Kenilworth – MR72 Handicap:
Fire Master @ 6/1 Sportingbet – 5pts win

PREVIEW: Cape Derby

One of the biggest race days of the South African racing calendar kicks off with the Cape Derby, which historically throws up some legendary winners. Last year it was Legislate, who moved on to win the Daily News and of course the Durban July, which in turn brought him the honour of becoming the 2014 horse of the year. Potentially we have a similar star on our hands in this years renewal, the question is only who is it? Checking the betting, this looks a one-horse race. But is it?

Well, Act Of War, currently trading a 1/5 favourite to land the Derby, looks certainly the real deal as he’s going for seven in a row today! The son of legendary sire Dynasty was only beaten on his racecourse debut, and then only by the narrowest of margins. Since then he never looked back, nicked in a couple of Graded races, with his biggest triumph to date, a decisive victory in the Cape Guineas. All those forms have also worked out very strongly, with plenty of subsequent winners. He looks right now a world class miler. Can he take this form to the next level over an additional two furlongs? That is the main question. Being a son of Dynasty surly helps, so he has enough stamina on his sire side for obvious reasons. Small doubts coming from his dam side though, with that line effectively never having anything produced over further than a mile. So far Act Of War looked special over trips ranging from 1.200m to 1.600m. He’ll be hard to beat if he’s taking well to the longer distance, that is for sure.

Realistically, there is only one real danger for Act Of War in this field , and that one is coming of course from Mike De Cock. His lightly raced Ertijaal is equally as exciting a colt as it gets. He had only three starts to date after having an injury troubled 2yo old career, and has been rather rushed to get here. He had three starts in the last two month, and one has to see how the takes this amount of racing. However he has been rapidly improving all the same.

Ertijaal

He was far too good on debut and second start, winning by a culminating 16 lengths those two races. Stepping into Listed company earlier this month, he turned on things in the final furlong to get up on the line. He was always going to win once in full flight and finished this task nicely. He looked green an immature all the same though, and will have learned plenty. He’s a nice, scopy colt who has already proven his stamina over 2.000m and going back to this trip today, will be a bonus, since he is bred for middle-distance.

Verdict: It is not worth to look anywhere else, trying to find the winner of this race. The rest of the field should simply not be good enough and it would be a major surprise to see any of those go even close. It seems rather a lottery to determine who else could make the frame. So concentrating on the two fancied runners makes sense. That says I’m going to have a nibble on Ertijaal. Simply for the reason that he has plenty of improvement left in him on what is only his fourth start. With a steep learning curve, and a trip to suit perfectly, he should be a close match for hot favourite Act Of War, as long as he takes the recent starts well. That says, Act Of War looks a special horse and if he stays the trip, will not be beaten. But odder things have happened in racing than a proven star miler fading over the additional two furlongs.

Ertijaal @ 7/2 Ladbrokes – 5pts win