Who are the best three-year-old horses – those to contest the coming classics? That’s an eternal question in racing at this time of year and one that leads on to debate about good and indifferent annual crops, not to mention potential superstars and those of the glorious past.
The riddle starts to be solved at Kenilworth on Saturday, when the cream of Cape Town’s sophomores gathers to contest the Grade 2 Western Cape Fillies Championship and the Grade 3 Cape Classic, both over 1400m.
The former has as exciting a line-up as you’d hope to see, with any one of nine combatants capable of taking the top prize and catapulting themselves to the top of Guineas reckoning.
As it’s a 60kg level-weights affair, punters will concentrate on the highest merit-rated horses as they are the best handicapped.
Top of the tree is Glen Kotzen-trained Kailene with an MR of 102. This filly has been campaigned from Kotzen’s Durban satellite yard since early in the year, winning twice on the trot and then posting three second places on the Greyville turf.
One step down the merit log is Maria Querol from champion trainer Justin Snaith’s yard, a filly who landed a hat-trick in her last three outings, has stable jockey Richard Fourie in the irons and starts from No 1 stall.
Maria Querol’s stable-mate Gimme Dat boasts two wins in three, only missing her hat-trick recently by being very much in need of a run after a seven-month break. She gets homecoming favourite rider Bernard Fayd’Herbe in the saddle.
Candice Bass-Robinson has two runners among the top five rankings, Santa Maria and Amanzimtoti.
The latter has a likely looking form profile for a race like this – two wins and two places from four runs and a fast-finishing victory in her last start after a short break to freshen up.
Bass-Robinson and jockey Aldo Domeyer have been teaming up to good effect of late and might just have the edge over a welter of brilliant opposition.
A brilliant race is guaranteed.
The matching race for males, the Cape Classic, might not have quite the quality but is equally as inscrutable in terms of finding a winner. Many a Pick 6 player will be going with “the field”.
Bass-Robinson and Domeyer could snatch a memorable double on the day – with Trip Of Fortune looking as good a bet as any.
9 Top Quality, 6 Ragnar Lothbrok, 7 Silent War, 8 The Futurist
3 Cruizin California, 10 Empress Of Jade, 12 Zippy Over, 10 Cracklin’ Rose
2 Walk Of Fame, 7 Kissing Point, 6 Hilarity, 3 Gayleactic Star
1 All About Al, 7 Masked Vigilante, 4 T’Challa, 6 Moon Rock
6 Irish Tractor, 9 The Second Wave, 8 Royal Watch, 7 Lion’s Head
2 Trip Of Fortune, 1 Pomp And Power, 5 Universal, 9 Double Superlative
5 Amanzimtoti, 1 Kailene, 2 Maria Querol, 3 Santa Maria
5 Whoa Whoa Whoa, 1 Long White Cloud, 3 La Folie Douce, 4 Oh So Squishy
2,6,7 x 1,4,6,7 x 5,6,7,8,9 x 1,2,3,5,9 x 1,2,3,4,5,6 x 5 (R1800)
3,10 x 2 x 1 x 6,8,9 x 1,2 x 1,2,5 x 5 (R36)
Best bet: Race 4 No 3 Clafoutis
Value bet: Race 9 No 4 Into The Future
Best bet: Race 6 No 9 Arumugan
Value bet: Race 5 No 7 Florence