If I had told racing fans 18 months ago I would be selecting ML Jet to win this year’s R2-million Gauteng SANSUI Summer Cup most would have been nodding their heads in agreement.
Now 18 months later it has become a questionable selection. The son of Jet Master lost his form, and raced poorly. Even gelding did little to improve him. A change in stables made a slight difference but what seems to have turned the four-year-old around was a decision from trainer Gavin van Zyl to move the horse to the Highveld.
Under the care of assistant Chesney van Zyl ML Jet has started to regain some of the old flair. He won a Graduation Plate, beating Master `N Commander who came out and franked the form, and then led most of the way in the Peermont Emperors Palace Charity Mile before being caught late by Bouclette Top.
What has transpired over the last 18 months is that his rating has been reduced a little and he comes into this Grade 1 race over 2000m at Turffontein with just 54.5kg on his back. That sees him receive 5.5kg from top weight and favourite French Navy. When they ran in the Grade 1 Daily News 2000 ML Jet finished 5.50 lengths behind Sean Tarry’s charge, which on paper, should be erased by the weight turnaround.
There are two issue of concern, Firstly, will ML Jet stay a testing 2000m and secondly, what tactics will be used. ML Jet is a full brother to Augusta National who won well up to 1800m so there is some hope in that regard. The other concern is that he does tend to pull so will he once again try to lead from start to finish from a wonderful No 2 draw.
Generally the trainers feel there will be a good pace and should that happen, hopefully ML Jet does settle. Jockey Muzi Yeni is a great judge of pace so he will do what is necessary. Owner Michael Leaf has been a stalwart of the game and few would begrudge him a Summer Cup win.
The horse they all have to beat is French Navy. He has done little wrong and to use an old racing expression, he grows an extra leg when he runs over this track and trip. But he does carry 60kg and has to give weight all round.
“Carrying that kind of weight is never easy, even for the best horse in the race,” said Tarry. “All the horses were at a peak in the Vodacom Durban July and, no excuses, Power King beat French Navy by three lengths. They meet on the same terms at the weights, so I can only hope their merit ratings are correct.
“French Navy does love Turffontein and will have more time at the Joburg track to make ground on the leaders.
“There’s not much to be worried about besides the weight.”
Another runner one has to respect is Easy Lover. Stuart Pettigrew’s runner ran a cracker in the Victory Moon, flying up late to finish a two-length second behind Deo Juvente. He is 2.5kg better off and Pettigrew is confident they can reverse the placings in the Summer Cup.
“His last 400m in the Victory Moon took 23.7 seconds. I have absolutely no doubt the extra 200m is what he’s been looking for and that he will stay and is going to love it. I’m confident he will turn the tables,” said Pettigrew.
Joey Ramsden has two runners in Disco Al and St Tropez but the fact Anton Marcus has decided to ride the latter, and lose chunks of weight to do so, seems to indicate the son of Silvano is the better of the two. However, he is drawn No 15.
Then, of course, there is Durban July winner Power King. Dean Kannemeyer has primed him for this race but he has only had one sprint and arrives this afternoon so there is the issue of the travelling and a second run after a layoff. Only the race will tell.