Can Kommetdieding complete the rare assignment of winning a Grade 1 race in all three major centres in less than a year?
The four-year-old son of Elusive Fort has been a revelation over the past year and also a boost for the smaller stables. He is trained by the father and daughter team of Harold Crawford and Michelle Rix and it has been an absolute delight to show owners that given the right horse, there are a number of people in South African trainers’ circles who can succeed when given the opportunity.
Kommetdieding has a charismatic owner in Ashwin Reynolds and all these factors have made this colt a household name in South Africa. Of course, wins in the Durban July and the Cape Town Met have helped propel that reputation and he has to be the runner to beat in tomorrow’s R2-million TAB The Premier’s Champions Challenge over 2000m on the Standside track at Turffontein.
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He has been in Joburg since the end of February and should be fully adjusted to the conditions. Kommetdieding was the main attraction when he ran in the Grade 1 Wilgerbosdrift HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes but he could only manage third place behind MK’s Pride and Puerto Manzano, both of whom will be reopposing in this race.
That defeat did leave some doubt in the minds of others and there are many who believe he is quite beatable.
“We were all hoping he would win last time,” said jockey Gavin Lerena yesterday. “But he ran a very good race, and the over last 100m he was actually finishing.
“He has come on well, he’s settled into Joburg now and I’m very happy with him. He had his final proper gallop last Wednesday put up a nice gallop.
“I’m very happy to be going the 2000m this time. I understand that at the end of the day it’s a horserace, but he’s proven himself and they’re going to have to beat him.
“I would say he is my best ride of the day.”
Mike de Kock has expressed quite a bit of confidence about the chances of filly Sparkling Water who is one of the better weighted horses, although Kommetdieding is at least 3.5kg better handicapped than any of his opposition.
The daughter of Silvano gets a 2.5kg allowance in these weight-for-age races and she certainly has had a good preparation. The only issue was the decision to move the HSH Princess Charlene Empress Club Stakes up a week due to the inclement weather, means she will have to contests two Grade 1 races in eight days. However, De Kock is not too concerned.
“It’s not ideal, but it is what it is. It’s not enough to scratch her – she’s tough and she must run. This 2000m race was her main goal, so last Saturday’s race was just a gallop, what can you do?”
Asked about his expectation for the race De Kock replied: “I think she’s the horse to beat.
“I still think she would have won the Summer Cup. If she drew where the winner drew it would have been no race.”
Sparkling Water was drawn widest of all and ended up in last place, turning for home almost 15 lengths off the pace. She produced the fastest 400m to finish to end up just 4.50 lengths behind Flying Carpet.
S’manga Khumalo has a good record on this filly, and he will be back in the irons. They will jump from No 7 draw.
MK’s Pride is another horse who has captured the imagination of the public and he finally got his deserved Grade 1 win in the Horse Chestnut Stakes. But will he go 2000m?
Trainer Paul Peter is hopeful and, he points out, so is jockey Muzi Yeni. “Muzi is quietly confident he will stay.
“Muzi says MK’s Pride switches off in a race although he looks like he’s over-racing. If he settles, then Muzi can use his speed in the latter part of the race.”
What Mk’s Pride does have is proven class and often that is what sees them through. He is, at least the second-best weighted runner.
Johan Janse van Vuuren has Second Base and Puerto Manzano who both have chances. The latter ran an incredible race last time when very slow out the gate but then made up loads of ground to run second. But will he be able to repeat that over 2000m?
He does have Anton Marcus up which is in his favour but somehow one has to believe over this distance Second Base, winner of the Grade 2 Colorado King Stakes over this course and distance, is the better of the pair.
Keagan de Melo rides from Gate No 1.