Tag Archives: South Africa

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

Igugu’s Legacy Lives On

Wonderful news: IguguRacingNews reported this morning that we finally know the name of the only son the super filly brought to the world in her short lived career as a broodmare. His name is Kikujirou.

The two year old, sired by Dansili, will be in good hands as he will be trained by John Gosden in England.

Great things are expected: Kikujirou has been given an entry for the 2019 Epsom Derby! Obviously it’s very early days and it remains to be seen how good he really is; however, here’s hoping he can live on the legacy of the great filly.

Igugu has been one of my all-time favourites. Up with the likes of Paco Boy, Sea The Stars, Variety Club and Rachel Alexandra she is part of my personal Hall of Fame. Not forgotten, and never will, are her gutsy wins in the Met and the Durban July.

Triumphs so special they stand the test of time.

Saturday Reflections

Dundalk All-Weather

First things first: Toriano (5/1) got the job done at Lingfield! Got his head in front when it mattered. The third winner of the still quite fresh year.

Late money arrived for American Patrol at Kempton in the evening. From an impossible position he was never any serious questions asked, though, and to my eyes it looked as if PJ McDonald saved him for another day. Still, American Patrol made eye-catching headway in the closing stages. His day will come soon.

The End of the Southwell Dream?

Media reported that Southwell racecourse is likely to change its racing surface to Tapeta next year. The installation of floodlights is also in discussion.

Only a proposal at this point in time, so the official statement. However, the Twitter machine suggested otherwise. The end for the Fibresand surface is more a given than a mere possibility.

There’ll be many who won’t mind. Some who’ll be more than happy to see it go. A few are probably going to miss it.  I’ll be sad. Southwell would becomee “just another one”. Not that there’s anything wrong with Tapeta, or Polytrack for that matter.

Wolverhampton, Newastle, Lingfield, Kempton, Chelmsford – all fine tracks. I love All-Weather racing no matter what. Nonetheless, Southwell is unique. Unique because of the Fibresand. A different test for horses, a different way races are run. It suits some horses. Other don’t act here at all. That’s the fun!

As a betting medium I love it. As a racing fan I applaud it. For being different. A stand-out in the British racing scene. Here’s hoping Southwell will make the right decision: keep the Fibresand and keep the uniqueness of the racecourse alive.

Legal Eagle Does it Again!

For a third consecutive time South Africa’s highest rated horse landed the Group 1 Queen’s Plate over a mile at Kenilworth racecourse. A stunning success, perfectly timed by Anton Marcus in the saddle.

For a moment or two it looked like pace setter Captain America might have got away with it. However, from 2f out Legal Eagle kicked into top gear and cut back the lead rapidly. No problems in the end.

He reminds me a bit of former South African superstar – Variety Club. An impressive Plate winner himself, who went to win at Meydan and Hong Kong. In fact, comparisons aren’t to far off, given Legal Eagle could seek his own international glory in November this year, as thanks to the Queen’s Plate success, he’s automatically earned the right to contest the Breeders’ Cup Mile.

Teenage Triumph in the Welsh National

Horse racing simply delivered the best stories. More often than not. There is young jockey James Bowen, a year ago still riding the ponies, 16 year of age, still claiming five pounds, sitting on 13 year old Raz De Maree.

That in itself is kinda odd But then these two go on the romp home in the Grade 3 Welsh National! That success didn’t look all that likely when the field turned for home with four fences to jump. Raz De Maree had lost contention to the front group, Bowen tried his best to keep the 16/1 longshot going.

The veteran responded. Between third and second last, he seemingly found another gear and with two out suddenly jumped to the lead, which he never gave away again.

A heroic effort, from both, horse and jockey. And certainly a day young James Bowen won’t forget too quickly.

Featherweight Seattle Swing Worth a Punt

polytrack

1.35 Fairview: MR 84 Handicap, 2000m

Muzi Yeni has a sensational record riding for du Plessis, so Oh So Modus must rate a massive chance. The four year old already is a course and distance winner too and proved himself to be in fine form lately.

You don’t have to look far for dangers though. Another four year old gelding, the Justin Snaith trained Galao has been running extremely well, having been placed or won in all his last four starts.

The eight year old veteran Money Grubber is probably in the grip of the handicapper at the moment, however can’t be taken lightly as this is his trip.

However I take a chance with the only three year old in the race, Seattle Swing. Still rather lightly raced, he may be able to improve for what he has shown so far. He won over 1600m on yielding ground last season, followed later by an impressive success here on the polytrack over 2.200m. Off only 52kg I see a chance of him being extremely well in, though only if he can take another step forward  given this is a tougher race than those he contested in before.

Seattle Swing @ 10/1 Coral – 5pts Win

Fairview: Top Weight is Value

turffontein

11.50 Fairview: Pinnacle Stakes, 1000m

An open looking contest where class horse Copper Parade is a fair measure stick given he was placed in a Grade 2 lately. He is two from four starts over this course and distance, so is very well respected and sure to run a big race.

Late bloomer Blizzard Belle seems to be the main danger. Bidding for a four-timer today, the five year old has excelled over the minimum trip in recent weeks achieving a career best in December when landing a MR86 Handicap off top weight.

The three year old Oriental Tiger is an intriguing contender. Lightly raced and showing some potential, he could have still more to offer. He’s coming as a fresh horse into the race, is badly out off the weights, but probably hasn’t shown his true form yet. With Domeyer up he’s got to be respected.

Cauclair is a great little money spinner and can be competitive after winning his latest race two weeks ago, though the drop to the minimum trip is not ideal and he might be beaten for speed by quicker sorts at this downhill sprint track.

The highest rated horse in the field is The West Is Wide. He might be slightly flattered by his current rating off 106 as he was disappointing in his last three starts. However he loves this trip and is a course winner as well. He’s well weighted to go close if he can find back something of his best. Dropping down to 1.000m can only be a help and Agrella booked for the ride is a big bonus.

Summary: It’s fair to say that Copper Parade is the horse to beat after his runner-up effort in Grade 2 company. His win record isn’t the best lately though. He’s a fair price in a competitive little affair but the value lies with the top rated The West Is Wide. If rejuvenated by the return to this track and trip he could easily outrun his price tag.

The West Is Wide @ 10/1 VC – 5pts Win

Sunday Greyville Tips

exit-here

2.15 Greyville: Mr 86 Handicap, 1.200m

With the scratching of Highway Explorer and Piano Man this Handicap is decimated by two of the more likelier sorts where now only three horses can be realistically have a chance to win, as long as they run to their true form.

The three year old Cutting Edge has an edge in the weights and should strip fitter today after a fine comeback run in December. He’s the highest rated individual in this race and with Delpech on board will be a major player.

That says I’m keen on De Kock’s Jayyed today. He’s coming off a half year long break, however seems best as a fresh horse and won a maiden plate last year after a similar lay-off over this 1.200m trip. The switch to polytrack should suit perfectly on pedigree, and after having to face top class opposition in graded company in all his last starts, this represents a much easier task.

There is the chance the run is only to sharpen him up and bigger targets may be ahead, over further distances as well. But with a talented apprentice on board who takes off valuable 2.5kg I feel Jayyed must have a serious say in the closing stages, as long as he doesn’t miss the break, something he did a couple of times last year.

Jayyed @ 11/2 VC – 5pts Win

————

2.50 Greyville: MR 74 Handicap, 1000m

Favourite Hooponopono is way to short in my mind. He’s consistent but has to prove he’s capable of winning off his current rating.

A better alternative seems the one year younger All True Man, who has to some extend a similar profile, but is a much bigger price. If you forgive ATM his last performance which was too bad to be true, then you see an ultra consistent runner who is one from one over course and distance and who’s been knocking on the door in similar races lately.

Going from pole position today combined with the handy 2.5kg apprentice allowance of Tristan Godden could give him the edge in this contest.

All True Man @ 11/2 VC – 5pts Win