Sport » Horses
The five-year-old gelding Belgarion is going for his sixth win in a row and his eighth overall – from just 10 runs.
The big question is: will he be fit enough after a four-month rest to beat scarily good opposition in the 1600m Grade 2 WSB Green Point Stakes – one of the principal pointers to the Cape Town season’s climax, the Met, at the end of January?
Trainer Justin Snaith said this week Belgarion was working well at home and his gallops were “encouraging”. Those are less confident words than the Cape ace was uttering in Durban in July, and he further hedges his prediction by mentioning that this famous old race has drawn a very strong, if compact, field.
Topping the opposition is the country’s highest-ranked horse, Rainbow Bridge, who was just over two lengths behind Belgarion in sixth place in the July – with a bumpy passage as an excuse. The Eric Sands-trained Bridge had a commanding win in his July prep, in the Gold Challenge at Greyville, and was an unlucky runner up in his subsequent effort, the Champion Stakes.
He, too, has been taking a break and might not be fully wound up on Saturday.
Consistent Cirillo, a raider from Sean Tarry’s championship yard at Randjesfontein, was third in the aforementioned Champion Stakes, just centimetres behind Rainbow Bridge. The son of Pomodoro has the benefit of two runs since his break and will be fitted with blinkers for the first time as a five year old – which could bring out that little bit extra needed to tame this field.
Candice Bass-Robinson sends out well-performed mare Clouds Unfold, who has also had a couple of sharpeners and has a gender-weight advantage.
Truth is, any one of the nine could conceivably pull it off and bigger punters will be putting the field into Pick 6 bets.
Much the same can be said for the day’s official headliner, the Grade 1 Cape Fillies Guineas over 1600m.
At this stage of the racing season, precocious three-year-olds are very difficult to differentiate between. They can either have an impressive early run of success or be a late developer.
Again, the field is a wise option is the war chest is deep enough.
Snaith has a hand of three, with Captain’s Ransom appearing to be the stable elect following three victories early in her career.
Earlier races include another Grade 2 event, the Southern Cross Stakes, a 1000m dash for fillies and mares, in which Tarry’s stable star Celtic Sea takes on Brett Crawford’s Aussie import Run Fox Run.
The former has 10 wins in the bag, but not yet one over the minimum distance, whereas the latter is something of a course and distance specialist.
And there’s more. A Grade 3, the Cape Summer Stayers, features sterling marathoners such as Crome Yellow, Kampala Campari, Tap O’Noth, Holy Warrior and Bayberry (a cheek-piece strike).
A Pinnacle Stakes sprint, race 3, sees arguably the country’s leading sprinter, Kasimir, take on top-class speedsters Russet Air, Bold Respect and Rivarine – the latter an interesting Highveld raider for the Azzie training team.
Race 4: 2 Run Fox Run, 1 Celtic Sea, 4 Hello Winter Hello, 3 Roll In The Hay
Race 5: 2 Tap O’Noth, 7 Bayberry, 1 Kampala Campari, 3 Crome Yellow
Race 6: 3 Cirillo, 2 Belgarion, 4 Wild Coast, 1 Rainbow Bridge
Race 7: 10 Chat Ching, 1 Captain’s Ransom, 8 Dazzling Sun, 4 Zarina
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