Horses / Horse News
So dominant is Anton Marcus in KwaZulu-Natal racing these days, one tends to look for which horse he has chosen to ride as a quick reference point in assessing a race.
For Saturday’s Grade 2 Post Merchants at Scottsville, the former champ has opted for Ultra Magnus – and it’s not hard to see why. Trained by Brett Crawford, the four-year-old gelding by Oratorio has been quickly climbing the ladder of the best sprinters in South Africa. He has won five of eight starts and Marcus has been in the plate on two of those occasions – including in his last outing when he annexed a Pinnacle Stakes on this track and over this 1200m trip.
Some punters might feel inclined to install Ultra Magnus as their exotic-bet banker, but that would be a mistake as a Scottsville sprint is always a tricky thing. Plus, more than a few of his rivals here are very speedy sorts looking to muscle their way into upcoming Grade 1 sprints.
There’s been some controversy about how the Merchants field was finalised, with some horses with high merit ratings being consigned to the reserves bench as lesser-rated ones got the nod. The handicappers’ complex rationale for this won’t be bothering the pretty heads of most punters, though.
What they will be looking at is one Rebel’s Champ, who did crack the line-up with his lofty 118 MR. Trainer Paul Peter’s battle-forged, nine-time winner has also won over this course and distance and narrowly went down to Ultra Magnus under near-identical conditions back in December.
Cartel Captain, Invidia and African Warrior might be the biggest dangers to the top two, but there are several others with similar claims.
Three Grade 3 contests are supporting features on a 10-race card: two two-year-old races and the weight-for-age Poinsettia Stakes for females.
The latter is graced by a comely three-year-old visitor from Cape Town, the aptly named Pretty Young Thing, who has four wins from nine and a good feature-race record. You guessed it; Marcus has the ride for Crawford.
Fellow raider from down south, Binoche from the Vaughan Marshall stable, is a lot less exposed than Pretty Young Thing but has won three from four and looks ready to join the big time.
Temple Grafin, Golden Chance and Spiritofthegroove would not be surprise winners.
All juvenile clashes are something of a lottery as such young horses can improve very rapidly in a short space of time, rendering the slim form lines pretty redundant. It often pays to keep a close eye on the betting for such races.
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