We are only a few weeks away from the start of the SA Triple Crown for three-year-olds and Triple Tiara for fillies of the same age group and the search begins for the next Abashiri or Cherry On The Top.
Some of the contenders will be in action at Turffontein tomorrow when the two Grade 3 races – Tony Ruffel Stakes and Three Troikas Stakes for fillies – will take place. Both are run over 1450m on the Inside track.
The one they might all have to beat in the Tony Ruffel is Matador Man. He looked decent enough in his first two starts when placing in both. Interestingly he started favourite in his second visit to the course when both Al Fahad and Doosra had their debut runs. As it happened it was Mike de Kock-trained Al Fahad who came out best, beating Doosra by a long head, with Matador Man beaten 2.45 lengths into third.
However, life changed in more ways than one for Matador Man when he was gelded two days later.
Sean Tarry’s charge came back a different horse and since then has won his maiden and the Listed Secretariat Stakes over 1400m at Turffontein. He has not raced in the Inside track but should be ideally distance suited although S’manga Khumalo will need to overcome No 9 draw.
Al Fahad won his second start over the course and distance and then went to Cape Town to contest the Grade 2 Selangor Cup where he finished a 4.15-length fifth behind Gold Standard. He came back to Joburg and was all the rage to win the Listed Sea Cottage Stakes over 1800m on the Standside track but disappointed when he could only manage fourth, beaten 4.55 lengths by stablemate Orchid Island.
He might enjoy the move back to this distance and the Australian-bred son of Redoute’s Choice has to be respected.
Chili Con Carne won well under Piere Strydom last time and looks weighted to repeat his victory over Doosra who was five lengths back in third.
De Kock has opted to run Ektifaa against the colts as she drew very wide in the Three Troikas. She jumps from barrier No 3 and should give a good indication of how the fillies rate against the boys. On paper she is marginally the best handicapped runner in the line-up.
The Three Troikas will depend on the form of Maleficent. Alec Laird’s charge is at least 5.5kg better handicapped than any of her opposition and if fit, should win.