Mike Moon
Horse racing correspondent
4 minute read
6 Mar 2021
10:34 am

Thrilling Classic beckons and fillies go to war with Athena

Mike Moon

Malmoos, trained by Mike de Kock and ridden by jockey-of-the-moment Luke Ferraris, must win if he is to prolong the dream of a Triple Crown.

War of Athena is a heavy favourite to win at Turffontein on Saturday. Picture: Phumelela

The showdown between Malmoos and Catch Twentytwo in the Grade 1 WSB SA Classic at Turffontein on Saturday is shaping up to be a race for the racing connoisseur’s memory stash.

Powerful galloper Malmoos prevailed narrowly when the two met in the 1600m Gauteng Guineas last month, but Catch Twentytwo had a few excuses that day, yet finished like a fighter jet and will revel in the extra 200m of the Classic.

Of course, Malmoos, trained by Mike de Kock and ridden by jockey-of-the-moment Luke Ferraris must win if he is to prolong the dream of a Triple Crown – this being the second leg, before the series concludes with the SA Derby next month.

Catch Twentytwo’s trainer Paul Peter is dead set on spoiling that Triple Crown party with a horse he believes has the potential to go all the way. Former champion jockey Gavin Lerena clearly has a similar inkling as he has stuck close to the leggy chestnut.

Saturday’s companion piece, the Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic – also over 1800m of the Standside track – apparently holds no such fierce competition. Indeed, it looks likely to be a walk in the park for Paul Matchett-trained filly War Of Athena, who is quoted at 1-3 and 9-1 bar by the bookmakers.

Of course, it’s said there’s no such thing as a “certainty” in horse racing. But War Of Athena really is as close to such a things as you can get. Famous last words.

War Of Athena’s recent adversary, Anything Goes, sadly did not accept to run in the Fillies Classic, so the former now tackles the proverbial “blind school”. Oh yes, we’ve heard that before.

All the wise men of racing have been raving about the high quality of the current cohort of three-year-olds in South Africa – so there’s added frisson to the anticipation for Classic Day. Unfortunately, it will only be the best “sophomores” trained on the Highveld strutting their stuff as the likes of Captain’s Ransom and Jet Dark have not ventured out of Cape Town to test their mettle up north.

The great showdown will be in the KwaZulu-Natal winter season.

If anything is to trouble Malmoos and Catch Twentytwo it’s likely to be Second Base, a very smart customer from the Johan Janse van Vuuren stable who has won five from seven and who did not have the best passage in the Guineas but still managed fourth place, just two lengths off Malmoos.

Horse Catch TwentyTwo

Catch Twentytwo will be closely watched at Turffontein on Saturday. Picture: Supplied

The competition is a lot more broad-based in the main supporting feature race, the Grade 2 Ilha Bela Hawaii Stakes over 1400m.

Thee tough-as-teak Cirillo returns to home ground after a campaign in Cape Town, where he acquitted himself pretty well without shooting out the lights. He’s battle-ready and could prove difficult to peg back in the dash for the line.

Four-year-old Lady Of Steel set the Highveld alight when she won five in a row following her debut. She went off the boil in three subsequent runs but bounced back last time out in mid-February, so is teed up for this test.

Others with compelling form include MK’s Pride, Pack Leader, Whorly Whorly and Expressfromtheus, but the horse everyone will be watching with interest is Got The Greenlight. Joey Soma’s colt was arguably the best three-year-old last year. His last outing was in the Durban July and he was the runner-up, no less.

Got The Greenlight’s class might see him grab the honours, but a 224-day break is a long one – particularly when he’s bumping such a talented, in-form crowd as this.

SA CLASSIC BETTING

5-2 Malmoos

3-1 Catch Twentytwo

8-1 Second Base

9-1 Copper Mountain

11-1 Dr Doolittle

20-1 and upwards the others

FILLIES CLASSIC BETTING

1-3 War Of Athena

9-1 Sparkling Water

10-1 Miss Elegance

12-1 and upwards the others

TURFFONTEIN SELECTIONS (Saturday)

Race 1:

4 Happy And Glorious, 1 Hope Is Power, 3 On Cue, 7 There She Goes

Race 2:

5 Clarkson, 1 Ra’ed, 3 Slightly Spanish, 4 Al Qaasim

Race 3:

Belle Of Belize, 4 Golden Spoon, 3 Essence, 15 Space Oddity

Race 4:

6 All Aglow, 2 Lady Amherst, 1 Veld Flower, 4 Making A Scene

Race 5:

9 Don’t Look Back, 4 African Adventure, 7 Odd Rob, 10 Smoking Hot

Race 6:

1 War Of Athena, 6 Sparkling Water, 8 Netta, 3 Miss Elegance

Race 7:

2 Catch Twentytwo, 1 Malmoos, 4 Second Base, 6 Dr Doolittle

Race 8:

2 Cirillo, 9 Lady Of Steel, 11 MK’s Pride, 6 Pack Leader

Race 9:

4 Forever Mine, 3 Down To Zero, 10 Battleoftrafalgar, 2 Captain And Master

Race 10:

9 Written In Stone, 6 Battle Force, 3 Holy Man, 5 Crown Guardian

Pick 6 (Races 4-9):

1,2,4,6 x 1,4,7,9,10 x 1 x 1,2 x 1,2,3,9,11 x 2,3,4,10 (R800)

PA: (Races 3-9):

2 x 1,2,6 x 4,7,9 x 1 x 2 x 2,9,11 x 4 (R54)

KENILWORTH SELECTIONS (Saturday)

Race 1: Watch betting

Race 2: Watch betting

Race 3:

1 Benjamin, 2 Coolusive, 5 West Coast Wonder, 4 Travel Master

Race 4:

1 Arandelle, 4 Orange Bowl, 2 Jo Loves, 5 La Banquiere

Race 5:

Somerset Maugham, 2 Doppio Oro, 8 What A Man, 3 Essos

Race 6:

2 Rockin Ringo, 8 Adios Amigos, 3 Irish Morning, 5 Giacomo Puccini

Race 7:

2 Whatsinadream, 1 Tallahassee, 4 Hierus Venit, 8 Enchanted Creek

Race 8:

One Way Traffic, 4 Brandy’ncoke, 16 World So High, 1 Greenlightflash

Pick 6:

1,2,5 x 1,2,4,5 x 1 x 1,2,3,4,5,8,9 x 1,2 x 1,3,4,16 (R672)

PA:

1 x 1 x 1 x 2,8 x 1,2 x 3,4,16 (R12)

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