The accent will be on stamina at Fairview today when eight runners vie for top honours in the longest race on the national racing calendar, the Port Elizabeth Gold Cup, a Listed contest over 3600m.
However, the one who does fit the bill and could be up to the task is Jacques Strydom-trained Desert Wisdom with Mathew Thackeray in the saddle. This four-year-old turned in some sterling performances at Fairview over ground on the Polytrack and on the turf.
Four runs back he justified favouritism with a clear-cut win in the 2200m Lakeside Handicap on the Polytrack. Then three runs later when ridden by Thackeray and not having a trouble-free run, he gamely outstayed his stablemate Frikkie by 0.50-lengths in the 3200m Glenlair Trophy on turf. Though having to carry 3.5kg more this time, the gelding will be tough to beat in chasing a sixth career win.
Expect a bold bid from Tara Laing-trained three-time winner Plano (Callan Murray) who was a runner-up to Desert Wisdom in the Lakeside Handicap which he followed up with a third in a 2400m Pinnacle Stakes. This four-year-old’s subsequent run saw him come from last to claim fourth place in the Glenlair.
Do not rule out five-time winner Frikkie (Karl Zecher) who has been unplaced only once in his last nine starts, and that was in his penultimate outing when reported to be striding short. However, the six-year-old confirmed he is fit and well next time when running on stoutly with Zechner up and finishing a gallant second in the Glenlair.
Although fresh out of the maidens, also to be respected is Western Cape raider Zanadu (Greg Cheyne) out of Mike Stewart’s stable. This four-year-old filly was placed in her last six starts, the most recent of which was a decisive pillar-to-post win over 2500m at Kenilworth. She spells danger with a handy galloping weight of 55kg this time. Next best is Gavin Smith-trained top-weight The Elmo Effect with Chase Maujean up.
Champion trainer Alan Greeff should get punters away to a winning start with Gimme Crystals (Cheyne) in Race 1, a Juvenile Plate (Fillies) over 1200m. She justified cramped odds on debut with a smart win and has a bright chance to complete the double.
The combination is likely to follow up in Race 3 with Kissmebackfoot in a 1400m Maiden Plate. This two-year-old colt, who has been threatening a win in recent outings, will relish receiving 4kg from his older rivals this time and with a good inside draw he could be rewarded.
A suggested TAB Quartet permutation in this race is go for Kissmebackfoot and Royal Fort as double floating bankers with 1, 2, 6, and 7. The bet will cost R144, but taking just a 20% bet is an option.