Sport » Horses
Pack Leader has been heavily backed to win the WSB Gauteng Summer Cup over 2000m at Turffontein on Saturday.
By Friday morning, bookmakers had slashed the six-year-old gelding’s odds to 7-2 and – almost unbelievably – joint favouritism with four-year-old super-filly Summer Pudding.
This is a remarkable turnaround from less than a fortnight ago when Horse of the Year Summer Pudding was quoted at 18-10 and Pack Leader at 6-1. When first entries were received at the end of September, the respective prices were 5-2 and 40-1.
Both horses won their recent prep races easily, but it was only a third win in 23 starts for Pack Leader whereas Summer Pudding was cantering to her eighth victory in eight outings.
What happened to change punter perceptions?
There are a couple of obvious factors: Firstly, Summer Pudding will be facing male opposition for the first time in her career and must carry a rather weighty 59kg for the pleasure. By contrast, Pack Leader has just 54.5kg. Secondly, the filly is drawn in stall No 18, while the gelding jumps from No 4.
Beyond that, Pack Leader has been mightily impressing trainer Alec Laird on the gallops. The word is out.
The son of Philanthropist was well regarded when trained in Cape Town and Durban by Glen Kotzen, competing fairly well at the top level for a couple of seasons. However, he arrived at Laird’s Highveld yard having only won twice. His first two efforts in his new surroundings, both over 1600m, were good but were in lower-level races.
On the other side of the fence, Paul Peter is beaming about Summer Pudding’s work at home since she returned from a rest following her winter heroics in winning the Triple Tiara in Joburg and the Grade 1 Woolavington Stakes in Durban.
“She’s just blossomed. She’s come back with so much more substance and stuff to work with,” said the affable conditioner from the south of Joburg who is hoping to fulfil a lifelong ambition to win his hometown’s biggest horse race.
In the end it comes down to the fabulously talented young girl against the tough older boy, a few kilos weight difference and opposite ends of the luck of the draw. Will class tell and Summer Pudding overcome the disadvantages?
But it’s not a two-horse race.
Mike de Kock has saddled nine winners of the Joburg “major”, so cannot be discounted. On Saturday he sends out third favourite Charles – also a refugee from the Cape in search of a change of fortunes up north.
This five-year-old son of Philanthropist owes his owners some wedge, having cost R6 million as a yearling but having returned only R500K from his three wins and a handful of places.
Champion trainer Sean Tarry fields five runners – defending champion ZillZaal, in-form Cornish Pomodoro and Tree Tumbo, promising filly Victoria Paige and six-time winner and top-weight Tierra Del Fuego. Every one of them has some sort of a winning chance.
3 Summer Pudding
14 Pack Leader
20 Dance Class
7-2 Summer Pudding, Pack Leader
10-1 Cornish Pomodoro
20-1 Zillzaal, Crown Towers
25-1 Astrix, Christopher Robin, Tree Tumbo, Dance Class
28-1 Divine Odyssey
35-1 Victoria Paige
40-1 Tierra Del Fuego, Running Brave
50-1 Riverstown, Hero’s Honour
66-1 Seven Patriots
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