Speed is always a great thrill and that is what makes the four Grade 1 races over 1200m at Scottsville tomorrow so much fun. Also the four are, in their way, so different.
We start off with the two juvenile races, the Allan Robertson Championship for fillies and the Tsogo Sun Gold Medallion. The South African Fillies Sprint is for fillies mares at weight for age and all three of those carry prize money of R750,000. The finale is the R1-million Tsogo Sun Sprint.
The four races also form the nucleus of the Pick 6 which has a carryover of R750,000 with the pool likely to reach R3 million.
Being a handicap, in theory every horse has a chance to win the Tsogo Sun Sprint and as a result, it makes life very difficult for punters. The answer to this puzzle could lie with a horse who is not known for his prowess as a sprinter – and that is Janoobi.
At the start of his career he won over this sort of distance but has also won the Betting World Gauteng Guineas at Turffontein and the Daisy Guineas at Greyville. In the KZN win this son of Silvano pulled Piere Strydom around the course for the full 1600m and still kicked on to beat Secret Captain by 1.75 lengths.
He is drawn on the outside of the track which does not seem to be as disastrous as in the past but that will ensure jockey Craig Zackey will not be cut off early on. Zackey rides because Strydom cannot make the weight of 53.5kg
Mathew de Kock, assistant to father Mike, mentioned Janoobi will soon be off to Dubai. “He has two more runs in South Africa before he goes, the Tsogo Sun Sprint and the Rising Sun Gold Challenge.
“As far as the 1200m race is concerned we are testing the waters. He has such a high cruising speed and he’s well handicapped so he’s got to have a chance. How he performs is going to help us where to aim him next year.“
The biggest threat could come from Strydom on Brutal Force. This five-year-old son of Western Winter has 59.5kg on his back but is an eight-time winner and last year’s winner, Talktothestars, carried 60kg to victory and will carry the same weight this year. Strydom has ridden Brutal Force three times for two wins and a fourth place so he knows the horse well.
Anton Marcus rides Attenborough who produced an excellent win last time. He came from last to win the Listed In Full Flight Handicap over 1100m at Scottsville last month but he will need to show improvement to win this race as some of the runners who finished behind him, like Exelero and Search Party, are weighted to turn the tables and also need to be included in the carryover Pick 6.
Others to consider are Talktothestars, London Call, Bull Valley, Sergeant Hardy and Table Bay.
Carry On Alice won the SA Fillies Sprint in 2015 but ran poorly last year. She must be nearing the end of her racing carreer and it would be wonderful for her to pick up her fourth Grade 1 win. She is the best-weighted runner, has usual jockey S’manga Khumalo up, and is well enough drawn at No 5. The main threats are likely to be Live Life, The Secret Is Out and Just Sensual.
Do not rule out Bela-Bela. This could be a touch short but does run well when fresh and is the second best weighted runner.
The outcome of the Gold Medallion could depend on how Naafer handles this undulating track. The De Kock-trained Australian-bred colt is getting better with each start and had excuses when beaten by exceptional stable companion Mustaaqeem in the Grade 1 SA Nursery at Turffontein.
While rain has played havoc with training tracks in KZN, Mathew de Kock said Naafer’s preparation had gone very well.
One of the strongest form lines for juveniles is the Listed Summer Juveniles Stakes at Kenilworth on Sun Met Day in which Kasimir finished a 0.75-length second behind Call To Account. Al Mariachi went on to beat Kasimir by the same distance in March and then ran a 0.50-length second behind Sand And Sea, giving him 3kg. Both will improve but is a question of who will improve more.
Call To Account lines up in the Allan Robertson Championship and finished fourth to Sea And Sand in her come back run, her first since the January win. She was clearly in need of the outing so expect massive improvement, especially with Strydom in the irons. Green Plains has done little wrong and must be a massive runner as are Neptune’s Rain and Touch Of Magic.