One of those times again: not quite happening for me. Three of the last five selections placed. And then there was the the ‘killer’ on Saturday: Milbanke. Backed him a week ago with confidence, when he ran huge for third place, but then let him go unbacked on Saturday, when of course, he won. Autsch.
It’s a frustrating year, in that sense. Too many of those stories. It looks likely to be a losing year now – the first in over five years.
It was also frustrating to see my Summer Cup selection Safe Passage beaten in 2nd place at Turffontein on Saturday; he ran a cracker, but was probably doing too much too soon, going forward from the #10 draw, while the winner, gutsy Puerto Manzano, got a much more quiet ride, always sitting off the pace.
Later that evening Making Music ran a shocker; the drift to 20/1+ gave it away beforehand. I could really do with a nice winner today….
3.15 Kempton: Class 6 Handicap, 7f
I can’t avoid backing Thrave today. Somewhat a ghost I am chasing all season long. Is today the day?
If the handbrake is off Thrave will go close. No question about that. He’s racing over 7 furlongs, down t a mark off 61 – I couldn’t have dreamed up a better opportunity for the seven-year-old gelding.
Last time out the handbrake was clearly on. Even a blind man would have seen that. That run aside, perhaps the Newcastle performance prior was surprisingly poor. Especially because Thrave showed consistency this season, ran well and caught the eye a number of times all year long.
He ran four times to speed ratings of 62+ on turf, although it can be argued he’s a better horse on the All-Weather. In any case, he’s down to a career lowest mark, races over the right trip, with a good draw in a race where he shouldn’t have an issue to be right up with the pace.
Even though age may start to catch up with him, Thrave is better than those last two poor showings. This isn’t a strong field and if allowed to run on merit, is clearly overpriced.
Many will want to get position close to the pace. I’m tracking Eye Of the Water for a few weeks now, but still feel this isn’t quite the right race given the draw, and likely hot pace over this trip.
The filly Making Music looks much better handicapped an here with a huge chance from her #1 draw. It’s easy to forgive her latest poor showing over a trip too far.
She pulled hard over shorter, so it was no surprise to see her fading badly when stepping up to 9.5 furlongs. She lead soon crossing over from the widest draw but ran her race as the field approached the home turn.
I feel the 3-year-old is better judged on the Kempton run before, which caught my eye.
Even there over a mile, she was quite keen, not helped in that regard by the application for blinkers for the first time. Nonetheless, she travelled well into home straight, tracking the pace in third. She made her move from 2f out, which petered out inside final furlong. Most likely she paid for early exertions, still finished well in third.
Making Music is most likely a bit better than her current mark. Her reference performance is the August 2nd place at this venue over a mile, when she ran to topspeed 63 off a 64 mark, and the form has been significantly franked in the meantime.
Today she is down to a mark off 59 today. As she drops to 7 furlongs, the blinkers remain on, from an ideal #1 draw, she should be quite well handicapped in these circumstances.
She should be able to get an ideal handy position. The likely hot pace should help her to settle. It’s always a risk to back a 10-race maiden, but she is on the right mark, in the right race today.
10pts win – Making Music @ 12/1
1.35 Turffontein: Group 1 Summer Cup, 10f
Exciting race this afternoon over at Turffontein, South Africa. 2022 Durban July heroine Sparkling Water bids for Grade 1 glory, after a highly satisfying comeback run three weeks ago.
She was such an impressive – albeit slightly surprisingly easy – winner of South Africa’s premier race. Everything worked to perfection that day. Judged on that effort, if in the same form, she’s obviously the one beat.
But, over the shorter 2.000m trip I have to oppose her, especially in this hot contest, where she also has to carry a lot more weight now, than the light weight she enjoyed at Durban.
No question, the one I am keen to her oppose her with is stable Mate Safe Passage. Especially as the odds are much bigger than I’d have ever thought you’d get for him. He’s overpriced, in my book.
Let’s not forget Safe Passage went off 2nd favourite for the July, after an ultra impressive success in the Grade 1 Daily News a couple of weeks prior, that catapulted him to the top of the market in the days leading up to the big race.
He enjoyed an incredibly season up to that point: winner of the Dingaans and Gauteng Guineas, runner-up in the Cape Derby and then that victory in the Daily News, off a nearly three months long break, which was only meant to be a prep.
This is a highly talented colt, who continuously progressed with experience, and reportedly has physically improved since July, too. He had a good comeback run in the meantime, when clearly minded in the closing stages.
I have no doubt, despite having been beaten by over three lengths in the Durban July, Safe Passage is more talented than Sparkling Water, in fact he’s the best horse over ten furlongs in South Africa. The turnaround in the weights is, beside the trip, another advantage, he’s got over Sparkling Water, today.
Looking back at the July, it’s clear things didn’t really worked out for him that day. From a wild start, to not getting the clearest of run in the home straight, to possibly having done too much too soon in the race, to truly stay the additional furlong.
The draw today is a bit wider than ideal, but it shouldn’t matter too much either. As long as there is a solid pace, Safe Passage should be able to produce his trademark turn of foot and off a fair weight could have too much to offer for the rest of the field.
Obviously with 17 other runners in the field, this could easily become messy, and someone could spring a surprise. Yet, it’s hard to ignore this rather generous price for the most likely most talented horse in South Africa, who’s fit, in good form over a trip and track he loves.