Trainer Sean Tarry was undecided whether French Navy would go for the J&B Met at Kenilworth next month but the son of Count Dubois is among the nominations and will be having a warm-up race at Turffontein today in a Pinnacle Stakes over 1600m, just in case the decision to run him Cape Town is in the affirmative.
Many pundits consider French Navy and unlucky loser of the SANSUI Summer Cup on 28 November. He flew up late under top weight, coming from third last at the top of the straight, and went down 0.60 lengths to Master Sabina.
“You can give weight, or you can give start, but you can’t give both,” was Tarry’s comment after the race. Jockey Raymond Danielson said French Navy gave him no assistance during the race and one just has to wait for him to make up his mind and start running.
Danielson has ridden French Navy in all but his debut race but this time Danielson’s assessment will be tested as S’manga Khumalo takes the ride for the first time. While French Navy has won over 1600m it is not his optimum distance and clearly he would prefer further.
However, he is particularly well handicapped under the race conditions and that is a massive factor in favour of the four-year-old. A lot will depend on whether Khumalo can encourage a sense of urgency into the gelding at the top of the straight.
If he does find this trip too short then the main threat should come from Bezanova. He ran an improved race under a massive 63kg when finishing a 1.35-length third behind Killua Castle in an Allowance Plate over 1800m on the Inside track. This 1600m is more to his liking and the 1.5kg coming off his back is certain to assist the mount of Weichong Marwing.
The Alec Laird-trained runner has slowly been coming back to form and his penultimate start finished a 3.85-length fifth behind stable companion Bouclette Top in the Charity Mile.
Johnny Rockets had a decent Joburg debut for the Justin Snaith yard on Summer Cup Day when just two lengths behind Rushmore River and one can expect an improved performance from the son of Jallad.