Only seven horses have been entered for the R1-million Empress Club Stakes (Grade 1) over 1600m at Turffontein on Saturday 16 April, but they include top Cape filly Inara.
The cutoff for the two feature races on Empress Club Stakes Day – the other is the 2450m Listed Spook Express Handicap, which attracted 10 nominations – was 11am yesterday morning, but the National Racing Bureau has extended first entries to 9am today.
Inara, a six-time winner from the Mike Bass stable, is a top-class four-year-old who has won three Grade 1 races already, the Klawervlei Majorca Stakes (twice) and the Paddock Stakes. She finished second to subsequent J&B Met winner Smart Call in this year’s Paddock Stakes and is rated five points and more superior to the other entries.
Inara has been at Summerveld in Durban with assistant Robert Fayd’Herbe for nearly a month and Bass’ daughter and assistant Candice Robinson confirmed she will travel to Johannesburg the day before the big race and go back straight afterwards.
This will be Inara’s first run since her Majorca Stakes win in January but according to both assistants, she is doing well.
Said Fayd’Herbe: “She’s not a great work horse and doesn’t give too much away, but her gallops are good at the moment and she’s well in herself.”
He is a bit worried that last year during the Durban season, Inara got a lung infection and it took the team months to get her right. However, he says: “At this point she hasn’t shown any signs that her lungs are not right.
“The yard we were in last year was very dusty. This year we’re in a different yard, which is more open and windy.”
The second top-rated horse in the entry will also have to travel up from Durban. She is Frank Robinson-trained Olma, who is rated 107.
She is in hot form at the moment, having won her last three starts, but she has yet to show she can be competitive at Grade 1 level.
Ruling champion trainer Sean Tarry has entered three horses, Tiger’s Touch (rated 104), Trophy Wife (rated 101) and Intergalactic, while Johan Janse van Vuuren-trained Winter Star is the other horse on the list.