Captain Of All, winner of the Grade 1 Tsogo Sun Sprint at Scottsville in May, and Carry On Alice, who led the field home in the Grade 1 SA Fillies Sprint at the same meeting in a marginally quicker time than the open race, head up the field for the R750,000 The Mercury Sprint over 1200m.
They are joined by last year’s winner, Fly By Night, Post Merchants champion Daring Dave, SA Merchants winner Trip To Heaven as well as the talented Willow Magic.
It’s a small but potent field but trainer Justin Snaith had to set the cat among the pigeons by adding Gold Challenge champion Legislate to the race. This son of Dynasty’s unbeaten in four starts at the course but all of those races were over 1600m and further.
Snaith told a Gold Circle correspondent it was hard to say whether he had the speed to win The Mercury but had decided upon this option because there was nothing else left for him in the KZN season. “We’re just taking our chances over a sprint, just to sharpen him up a bit for the Cape Summer Season. We have him in the Champions Cup too just in case.”
That is a strange comment as I was told before the season kicked off Legislate would forgo a run in the Vodacom Durban July and aim for this race. The reason at the time was that should he win, Legislate will have won Grade 1 races from 1200m to 2200m, which should enhance his breeding prospects.
This could be a very shrewd move by Snaith. His charge has incredible gate speed and in a sprint they go very fast in the early stages. Those who remember the George Azzie-trained Elevation winning the Merchants at Turffontein will recall how he just let them cut each other’s throats up front and mowed them down at the end.
I suspect we will see much of the same tomorrow.
Putting him in this race to just “sharpen him up a bit” for a season that is four months away is a bit much for us to believe. Legislate is there to win and I believe he will.
Captain Of All is unbeaten in five starts over the distance but they were all up the straight. Although he has raced at this course it was not one of his winning runs and although he is the best-weighted runner along with Carry On Alice, he might find Legislate better suited to the conditions.
A better option for second place is Willow Magic, who ran a 0.75-length second behind Legislate in the Gold Challenge and will be better suited to this trip.