Mike Moon
Horse racing correspondent
3 minute read
20 Nov 2021
8:00 am

Captain Fontane docks in Cape Town for Merchants

Mike Moon

Trainer Garth Puller has described his four-year-old as “a proper horse” – and you trust the former master jockey to know one when he sees one.

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The appearance in Cape Town of highly rated KwaZulu-Natal horse Captain Fontane has stirred up interest in the summer season. Will this tremendous galloper get the better of some of the best sprinters on the other side of the Grape Curtain in the 1200m Grade 2 Cape Merchants at Kenilworth on Saturday?

Trainer Garth Puller has described his four-year-old as “a proper horse” – and you trust the former master jockey to know one when he sees one. Puller also rated Captain Fontane as “good as anything we saw in the three-year-old crop this term” despite the horse not competing in the 2020/21 Classics due to being stuck in quarantine at the time – thanks to an aborted attempt to export him to Hong Kong.

After 11 months out of training – and a saga of export protocol tomfoolery – Captain Fontane returned to Puller’s Summerveld yard and was prepared for a local comeback. He executed the task in smashing style by winning on the bit at Scottsville in July this year.

That put paid to doubts about his ability to race fresh. He starts on Saturday after an 80-day hiatus, but it’s hard to see wise old owl Puller not having his horse ready to defend an unbeaten record and extend his run to five wins.

Most recently, Captain Fontane stepped out at Greyville on 1 September to demolish a MR99 field despite suffering a passage full of incident.

He looks a decent bet but faces plenty of competition for the Grade 2 gong. Notable in the line-up is SA Guineas champion Russian Rock, who was once fancied as a staying type but has recently shown speed tendencies after being gelded.

Another classy individual is Ambiorix, winner of the Grade 1 Gold Medallion at Scottsville in June. He hasn’t run since that day, so could be a tad underdone. Trainer Vaughan Marshall generally brings runners on in a measured way.

Pure sprinters Russet Air, Worlds Your Oyster and Pleasedtomeetyou will be waiting to capitalise on any hesitation from the favourites.

An interesting runner is another raider from Durban, Gareth van Zyl’s She’s A Keeper, who finished a creditable 10th in the Durban July and recently won a 2000m feature at Greyville.

What’s interesting is that a couple of 1200m victories are among the mare’s six wins in eight starts.

The weekend racing spotlight is fixed on Kenilworth as Joburg takes a rare Saturday off – ahead of the big Summer Cup meeting on the 27th.

Also on the Cape Town programme is the Grade 2 Concorde Cup, a 1600m contest for three-year-olds.

Glen Kotzen saddles four in the eight-horse field, with his tough guy Good Traveller the most likely among them to be at the sharp end.

SELECTIONS

Kenilworth Saturday

1: 5 Birdie And Bogie, 2 Gentleman, 7 African Winter, 1 Dog Detachment

2: 4 Follow The Star, 1 Pink Tourmaline, 3 Flower Of Saigon, 6 Rewrite The Stars

3: 9 What A Cherry, 3 Apollo Moon, 2 Antico Amore, 1 Rose Of Mine

4: 5 Thefutureisbright, 6 Vida Futura, 2 Jaimala, 1 Dubai Lights

5: 6 Royal Watch, 5 Kariba Hall, 3 Holy Warrior, 4 August Leaves

6: 1 Good Traveller, 2 Cosmic Highway, 4 Pomp And Power, 3 Xavion

7: 9 Captain Fontane, 1 Russian Rock, 6 Worlds Your Oyster, 10 Ambiorix

8: 1 Black Silver, 4 Song, 2 Whatsinadream, 9 Just Power

Pick 6: 1,2,3,9 x 1,2,5,6 x 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 x 1,2,3,4 x 9 x 1,2,4,9 (R1792)

PA: 4 x 3,9 x 5,6 x 5,6 x 1,2 x 9 x 1 (R16)

Greyville Sunday

Best bet: Race 2 No 4 Running Rifles

Value bet: Race 8 No 10 Hampton Court