Opinions on juvenile racing are sharply divided, with some horse people saying early gallops training and competition helps build strong animals, and others saying quite the opposite.
Some trainers are specialists at bringing on two-year-olds and delivering early profits for long-suffering owners. Others insist on waiting till their charges are three – and apparently properly grown – before sending them to the races.
A few months ago, the country’s leading trainer, Justin Snaith, raised a few eyebrows when he said juvenile racing had been wrongly neglected in South Africa – including by himself. He vowed to change all that – and he has with a vengeance.
Wednesday’s Durbanville race card is evidence of his newfound enthusiasm for pitching the so-called babies into battle. He has nine of the 19 runners in the three juvenile events – which probably wouldn’t have survived as carded races without his patronage.
And he looks likely to win all three.
In Race 1, a Maiden Juvenile Plate over 1000m and Leg 1 of the Bipot, the Snaith team will saddle four of the seven callow youths. Two of them are first-timers and it is interesting that stable supremo jockey Richard Fourie has opted for one of these, namely Master Of My Fate filly Margin Call. The other debutante is well-bred Twice Over colt Da Capo, owned by Drakenstein.
Snaith describes the former as a “speedy type” with a “place chance” and the latter as a nice type with good ability; needs further but will run well”.
The two horses with experience are Greek Myth, who has a third and a fourth to his name, and Que Shiraz, who ran a surprise third over 1200m at the weekend after being assessed by the stable as needing a lot more ground.
Two-year-olds are notoriously difficult to assess from one week to the next and one suspects that not even the Snaith brains trust know what will happen in this one.
By contrast, Bye Bye Bombshell clearly looks the best of the Snaith three in Race 2. The filly has a win and a second over 1200m on her record and the step up to 1500m at this stage looks the right move.
Stablemates Maria Querol and Warm Welcome will surely be second and third.
Pomp And Power is the Snaith standout in the third. After an early gelding, he made his debut in late February and was very green. He clearly learnt a lot that day and was calm and collected as he scooted to victory in his second outing, in mid-April.
Age and guile have advantages, but perhaps there’s something to youth and bad haircuts after all?
6 Que Shiraz, 3 Greek Myth, 7 Margin Call, 4 Hendo Shuffle
1 Bye Bye Bombshell, 2 Maria Querol, 3 Warm Welcome, 5 Phedra
3 Pomp And Power, 5 Sky God, 1 Back To You, 2 Captain’s Knot
1 Glitter In The Air, 5 Jetrix, 2 Respectable Miss, 4 Port Adelaide
10 Winter Royale, 4 Smileatthesunset, 1 Bel Punto, 9 Royal Grove
5 The Second Wave, 4 Adios Amigos, 2 Spectra Force, 3 Hyde Park
2 One Way Traffic, 9 Secret Glider, 3 Captain’s World, 6 Van Gogh
1 All About Al, 8 Flying Grace, 3 Royal Watch, 9 Anecdote
1,2,3,5 x 1,2,5 x 10 x 2,3,4,5 x 2,3,6,9 x 1,3,4,5,8,9,10 (R1344)
1 x 3,5 x 1,5 x 10 x 2,4,5 x 2 x 1,3,8,9 (R48)