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
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