Tag Archives: Turffontein

Monday Selections: 28th November 2022

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.

10pts win – Thrave @ 13/1

Saturday Selections: 26th November 2022

7.20 Wolverhampton: Class 6 Handicap, 7f

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.

10pts win – Safe Passage @ 5.7

Preview – President’s Champions Challenge

Exciting filly Majmu is going to post as the hot favourite in the big Grade 1 President’s Champions Challenge this afternoon at Turffontein. Unbeaten in her last three, including successin the Cape Fillies Guineas and the Empress Club Stakes, both Grade 1’s, she has obviously star potential. Trainer Mike De Kock hails her as a filly right up with the best he has ever trained – if not even better!

She is weighted to win this big Grade 1 today. She receives loads of weight as a filly against the boys as well as for her age. If she is as good as anyone thinks she is, then there isn’t too much in this field that could be dangerous to her. However first time against the boys over 2.000m is a completely alien experience for her. And that is the concern. At a very short price, I take her one…

… but only because there is a horse in the line-up which ranks among the best in the county over the 2.000m trip. That is of course Wylie Hall. The memories of his devastating demotion to second place in the biggest race of the South African racing calendar is still vivid – after a tough battle with Legislate, the stewards decided that he had interfered with the original runner-up in a way that made a difference about the outcome of the race. You could see it that way, and many did, but other opinions were voiced aplenty as well.

Anyway, the Durban July is history, Wylie Hall has moved on and made his season debut earlier this month in the Grade 2 Colorado King Stakes. He won this prep race easily, in fact couldn’t have been more impressive and is clearly in good order. Naturally he should improve for the run.

His excellent track record means he is expected to go really well today. I see him as the only real danger to Majmu. He has to give 4.5kg away to the filly. But age, sex as well as proven class over track and trip are fairly reflected in the weights in my mind. At 5/1 he looks the value in this race.

President’s Champions Challenge (Grade 1)
Wylie Hall @ 5/1 Sportingbet – 5pts Win

Tuesday Night Quickie

Quick Tip

One late selection for the night racing at Turffontein – the last race on the card, a rather poor maiden, looks interesting. The favourite Odd Rob is a very short price here in my mind. One has to assume that he improves dramatically for his recent outing. He finished a good runner-up after a long lay-off and had been gelded before, so indeed he should come on today, but the step up in trip looks a bit of a concern. His lightly raced profile gives him an ideal chance though, if he can find a bit improvement and stay the trip, as the opposition looks weak. But he is still way too short for this sort of race.

Equally lightly raced overcame big odds to run a fair third on debut. He may progress while Woody Glow could improve for the step up in trip. But those races often produce some strange results and longs-hot Twenty Eight Nine might sneak in for the placings here.

He didn’t show anything in his first three starts, but this is his third run after gelding, and sometimes this needs a bit until improvement kicks-in. He tries 2.000m for the first but should relish this new trip on pedigree. Interesting is the jockey booking with Johnny Geroudis who is red hot at the moment and is riding here for red hot trainer Alec Laird. I’ve seen worth 66/1 shots in my life.

8.45 Turffontein: Maiden Plate
Twenty Eight Nine @ 66/1 Bet365 – 2.5pts EW

Gauteng Fillies Guineas

This looks a much more open contest than the the boys’ Guineas in my mind, with moire unexposed runners and plenty of guesswork to do. However we have a very good favourite at the head of the market with Same Jurisdiction. She was a top class juvenile, won a big Grade 1 last summer and had an excellent prep last month in Grade 3 company. She rates a worthy favourite, though the downside is her rather poor draw and the fact that she had bleeding problems in the past. A lack of run at this track also counts as a negative. She deserves to be favourite, however is too short in the betting in my mind.

Progressive Smart Call was utterly impressive in her prep, though this here is much tougher today. If she can improve again, she is right up there with the best. So should be Sean Tarry’s Siren’s Call. A hardy filly, she finished a well respected 4th in the Dingaans and her prep win in a big sales race over shorter rates top form. If she stays the trip in a truly run race, she must be a big danger.

Never make the mistake to dismiss Turffontein top trainer Tarry’s second or even third string. His other runners Tamaanee and Bichette may be big prices in the betting today, but could spring easily a surprise. The former one the slightly more exposed already, has form over 1.600m and won against older. A good draw will help. She is an interesting price, though I restrict myself to one bet in this race and I’ve to admit that Bichette is the one that looks hugely overpriced here. She is very lightly raced, won over shorter a good handicap and performed well in her prep in Grade 3 company over 1.450m. She isn’t the quickest but is gutsy,very well bred and looks big with plenty of scope.

Her pedigree points to a mile and the step up to this trip will certainly suit her, so should the testing standside track. She has a good draw and will probably use this to race in a handy position as she prefers to do. She won’t go down with a fight I suspect and while it remains to be seen if she can make the step up into this hot top level company, she has the right looks, pedigree and progressive form. From a betting point of view, Bichette is the underestimated runner in this field.

Other fillies, like Grade 3 winner Sensible Lover or De Kock’s Pine Princess can’t be underestimated either. The fillies Guineas looks open, but very interesting and should provide spectacular action.

1.50 Turffontein: Gauteng Fillies Guineas (Grade 2)
Bichette @ 25/1 Ladbrokes – 5pts win

PREVIEW: Gauteng Guineas

This yeas Gauteng Guineas shapes as quite an intriguing contest where some rather exposed and seasoned runners are going to meet a bunch of unexposed, fresh contenders. Fitness levels, stamina and class are question marks for most runners in the line-up though we have right on top of the queue two extremely classy individuals – I’m talking about Harry’s Sun and Unparalleled of course. They are standing head and shoulders above the rest of the field, which is clearly reflected by heir respective official ratings.

Harry’s Sun interestingly has already Guineas form – he was a very respectable runner-up in the Cape Guineas behind top drawer Act Of War. Harry’s Sun was the leading two year old last season due to his success in the Grade 1 Champion Stakes. He followed up with another graded success however was subsequently beaten in the in the Dingaans in very convincing fashion by no one else than Unparalleled.

One could argue that he didn’t run to form that day, but one could also say that the winner was simply the better horse. He was better in the mentioned runner-up effort in the Cape Guineas, which overall rounded up a highly successful season for Harry’s Sun. He hasn’t been seen since though, and the lack of a prep run must be considered a worry. It is obvious that the preparation for the big race didn’t got to plan, yet he is currently trading as the 11/4 favourite. We have to trust his fitness, though no doubt he has the class to be a big runner if fully fit.

Harry’s Sun has the luxury of a generous draw, much in contrast to his *potentially* main rival Unparalleled. The Lateral son is literally drawn in the car park (18) and that could complicate things for obvious reasons. Nonetheless there is still plenty to like about his chance and a I’ve to admit that I’m a huge fan of his horse. I’m particularly fond of his excellent cruising speed and ability to produce an instant turn of foot. The draw is an issue, but he has a top jockey on board and he showed himself a very versatile runner if it comes to tactics.

So more than anything in a race like this, it’ll count for allot to settle well and be relaxed in the early parts, as well as to get the 1.600m trip. All those things are ensured with Unparalleled. He has a proven track record, has been progressive towards the end of last season and has been able to make a successful transition from handicaps into graded company, culminating in his emphatic Dingaans (1m) triumph. What I like about Unparalleled is the fact that he had a two month break, came back and impressed in his prep run over slightly shorter (1.450m). He’ll be bang on for the Guineas.

Mike De Kock has to be respected as always. He saddles two runners: Anjaal and Mutamakkin. The latter one should appreciate the trip and had a good prep run. He finished second behind Belong To Me and a neck in front to Unparalleled in the Grade 3 Tony Ruffel Stakes over 1.450m. More is required here around though, as he has much more weight to carry this time. His stable mate Anjaal was an excellent third in the Champion Stakes last year, however was slightly disappointing on his seasonal reappearance. He should strip fitter this time and has the potential to run really well in first time blinkers.

Sean Tarry’s Zambezi River hasn’t done much wrong in his career. A lightly raced winner of three races, who found the Cape Guineas too hot, had a fine prep run over 1.200m in a big sales race recently. He looks more like a sprinter than a miler, though, and may find this trip too far once again. In contrast Tarry’s second runner French Navy would certainly appreciate a real stamina test. He has fair form over 1.800m lately and if they go a mad pace, he’d have a chance.

Belong To Me was a fine Grade 3 winner recently, beating Unparalleled and Mutamakkin in a tight finish. The question is how much improvement has he left. Also the 1.450m trip of the recent was probably as far as he wants it. The booking of Anton Marcus for Precursor looks significant. The Captain Al son should be much better than his last two forms. He tries 1.600m for the first time, having only contested over sprinting trips. While he may have a fair chance to stay the trip on pedigree, it is much more a question mark if he’ll be able settle early on. The Captains Tune did well against older horses already and might be the pace angle here. if he gets an easy lead he could be dangerous. Normally he shouldn’t be good enough to win, though.

Verdict: There are a couple of bigger prices in the field that could well improve and run very well. But given all we know, it is hard to look beyond the first two in the market. Harry’s Son is a classy individual and if he is fit, he’ll be right there when it matters. The lack of recent run is a concerning fact though. This could open the door for Unparalleled. I was very surprised to see a price as big as 11/2 available. Analysing the race this morning without knowing the prices, I thought he would be my selection if it is about the most likely, though knowing how obvious his claims are, he’l be probably a very short and unattractive price for me. To see him as big as he is, I believe it is way too big. I expected 5/2, and can’t let 11/2 go. Yes, he has to overcome the widest draw and that needs to be reflected in the price. Yet he has the best form to offer, had a perfect prep run, loves track and trip and looks a class act the way he is travelling as well as quickening in his races.

The dark horses are the De Kock runners. Both could have more to offer and are interesting in their own right. Particularly Anjaal is intriguing. However his prep was utterly disappointing, despite the long lay-off you would have expected him to do better against a bunch of low grade handicappers. Nonetheless with first time handicappers, he is a horse that attracts me, but I can’t get over it to back him. So I gonna stick with Unparalleled in the hope he jumps well, settles well, is well positioned when the field turns for home and if so, I believe he’ll be very hard to stop.

2.25 Turffontein: Gauteng Guineas (Grade 2)
Unparalleled @ 11/2 Sportingbet – 5pts win

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Edit – Saturday, 28/02/15, 12.30: I do remain confident in Unparalleled, who is now available at even 6/1. However monitoring the betting, I can’t help but feel not attracted by the huge price for Precursor. Now available at 25’s, I have to get on that as it is simply way too big. The stamina question remain not insignificant, but on pedigree he has a fair chance. And from a good draw, I can see Marcus placing his mount in a handy position, ensuring that he settles and relaxes over this new trip, without pulling all his chances away. Marcus is a top man if it comes to that and as said before, his booking is a significant boost. – Precursor @ 25/1 Sportingbet – 5pts win