Robert Garner
2 minute read
27 Feb 2016
11:36 am

Triple Crown out of the starting gate

Robert Garner

The 1 600m Gauteng Guineas is the alternative first leg of the Triple Crown

HOT CONTENDER. Robyn Prinsloo with Guineas runner Le Clos

The South African Triple Crown for three-yearolds, Africa’s richest series of races, begins to gather momentum with Abashiri and Champagne Haze being well backed to clinch the R1 million Betting World Gauteng Guineas at Turffontein this afternoon.

The 1 600m Gauteng Guineas is the alternative first leg of the Triple Crown. The Grand Parade Cape Guineas at Kenilworth is the other first leg and is intended to give Cape-based runners a better chance of winning the series.

The Cape Guineas was run in December and was won by Joburg raider Noah From Goa, who is sitting out today’s contest but is set to be in the line-up for the second leg, the R2 million SA Classic over 1 800m at Turffontein on Saturday April 2.

The R2 million SA Derby at Turffontein on April 27 wraps up the series, which carries a R2 million bonus for winning all three legs.

Only Horse Chestnut (1999) and Louis The King (2014) have accomplished that feat and many pundits are dubious whether there’s a horse among the current crop of three-year-olds capable of following in their footsteps. But there’s no telling what today’s race may reveal and there are some really promising types in the field, especially Brazuca, who already has three seconds to his credit in major races for his age group. He will be ridden by top jockey Anton Marcus and is currently favourite, although he has drifted to 28-10 with corporate bookmaker Betting World in the face of the money for Abashiri and Champagne Haze.

And there are others with strong claims, notably the favourite’s stablemate New Predator and Suyoof who, like Noah From Goa, is trained by Mike de Kock. Trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren, who is in Australia buying yearlings, says New Predator is superior to Brazuca on their work at home, but there’s no guarantee that will prove the case in a race.

But there’s no doubting New Predator packs plenty of ability, as he showed when giving Noah From Goa a torrid time before going down by a long head to him in the Dingaans last November. He looks better value at 11-2 than Brazuca, at about half those odds.

Suyoof has won all three starts since beaten a neck by the more experienced Brazuca in his debut and could do anything, although the outside draw in a big field does weigh against his chances. Add in others like Lunar Approach, Le Clos and Ole Gunnar, who are all capable of improving on what they have shown to date, and the stage is set for an explosive contest.

It’s set to be a grand afternoon’s into the blue racing with five feature races and a likely R4 million TAB Pick 6 pool. And for those heading to Turffontein, there’s a Prawn Festival offering shellfish at bargain prices and a losing TAB ticket lucky draw after each of the 10 races.