The long-waited return to the track of Majmu will finally take place at Turffontein today when she contests the Grade 1 Empress Club Stakes over 1600m.
It is an interesting decision as trainer Mike de Kock has always felt 1600m is too short for his charge and that we would see the best of her once tried over further. Having said that, she has only once run over this distance and that is the furthest she has been.
Her last start was in the Avontuur Estate Cape Fillies Guineas (Grade 1) at Kenilworth and she easily beat Inara by 2.50 lengths. The runner-up went on to win two Grade 1 races for fillies and mares during the Cape summer season so that gives a good indication of how good this Australian-bred daughter of Redoute’s Choice is.
She has been nominated to run in three races on Champions Day – the R2-million President’s Champions Challenge over 2000m, the Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks over 2450m and the Gerald Rosenberg Stakes over 2000m – and a lot will depend on how she performs in this event on which way the De Kock yard will go.
One thing is certain, though. De Kock rates this filly highly and he would not let her race unless he was confident she would acquit herself well. She is the best handicapped runner, has Anthony Delpech up and jumps from barrier No 8.
If Majmu is not at her best then she can expect keen challenges from Same Jurisdiction and Hammie’s Hooker. Same Jurisdiction ran superbly in the Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Challenge where she was caught on the post by Triple Tiara-seeking Siren’s Call. It was a game performance over 1800m and this 200m drop will be right up her street.
Duncan Howells’ charge has been based with Joey Soma at Turffontein so she has not had to travel up and down to KwaZulu-Natal. This time Piere Strydom takes the ride and they jump from barrier No 4.
Hammie’s Hooker will be having her first run on the Highveld and that might work against her. However, she is only 1kg under sufferance with Majmu and one always has to respect trainer Mike Bass. Bernard Fayd’Herbe takes the ride.
The race meeting also marks the anniversary of the fatal Hennenman air disaster on 12 April 1988 in which 24 people lost their lives.
They were: Jockeys: Keith Basel, Lawrence Riley, Johannes “Rooies” Fourie, Warren Baillie, Bennie de Wet, Greg Holme, Douglas Roper, Danny Lombard, John McMurtry, Mark Nel, Michael Coetzee, Simon Rahilly and Gordon Sterley.
Trainer: Hennie van Wyk. Officials: Graham Kent, Dave Bullock, Arthur Havergal, Ginger Masterton and Johannes van der Linden. Owners: Jacobus Viljoen and Nick Blignaut
Air Crew: Jacob Kalt, Harold Whitehead and Jacqueline Henderson.