There are four trainers and a whole lot of owners in the Western Cape who are no doubt delighted Marinaresco is safely in KwaZulu-Natal and a long way from the Grade 3 Winter Derby field.
The final leg of the Winter Series will be run over 2400m and with the Mike Bass-trained runner having won the first two legs, appeared to have the R250,000 bonus all wrapped up. However, the connections decided to give the diminutive son of Silvano a shot at winning the Vodacom Durban July instead.
“I’m not sure if we’ve done the right thing,” said trainer Mike Bass. “We’ve probably given up and extra R250,000 for a shot in a R4.25-million race. “It’s not my style to run a three-year-old in the Durban July but he has done so well in his last couple of features that he deserves a chance.”
It should open the door for Whisky Baron to pick up the third leg of the Winter Series after finishing a 0.40-length runner-up behind Marinaresco in both the Guineas and Classic. Brett Crawford’s charge has had most of these horses behind him in one of the other two races and should beat them all again on this occasion.
Bernard Fayd’Herbe takes the ride on the Australian-bred runner.
With his three-year-old star out of the race Bass will be relying on either Jet Air or Brilliant Crimson to win the race for the stable. Brilliant Crimson is held by Whisky Baron but Jet Air looks extremely capable and came back to winning form last start time in a MR 96 Handicap over 1800m.
He will be a threat as long as he sees out 2400m.
The Listed Winter Oaks over 2200m is a far more open affair but although not well weighted, Playboy Buddy will comfortably see out the distance and seems to be improving with every start. She is likely to go off at a big price and could provide some value.
The Grade 3 Langerman over 1500m should be fought out by Attenborough, Table Bay and Our Mate Art. Attenborough and Our Mate Art both have feature race form and have unofficial merit ratings of 95 but although he has yet to run against the best Table Bay, rated 91, could be the best of the bunch at this stage of their careers.
He was an impressive winner over 1400m last time and looks exceptionally talented. Donovan Dillon has been aboard him in all three of his starts and takes the ride again.
The fillies’ version, the Listed Irridescence Stakes, could go the way of Felicity Flyer who is weighted to turn around her last defeat at the hands of Nordic Breeze. Grant van Niekerk rides the Mike Bass-trained runner.