Sport » Horses
All South African race cards up to New Year’s Eve are already available, so early form study and bet planning is possible for those of us who need to recoup excessive Christmas expenditure.
The action kicks off on Saturday 26 December (Boxing Day) with a double-header – at Greyville and Kenilworth. The satin bow on this present is a clutch of feature races: grade 3 Flamboyant Stakes and Listed Christmas Handicap at Greyville and two sprints at Kenilworth, the Listed Southeaster and the NBT Need For Speed.
The 1600m Flamboyant is not a gift for punters, however, with a crack, in-form line-up of female horses. Nonetheless, as a stakes race, we have the advantage of easily seeing which runners are best weighted.
Top of that list is Gallic Princess, a raider from Candice Dawson’s Highveld stable. The four year old has a lofty 114 Merit Rating – well ahead of most of her opposition – thanks in large part to a previous trip to the coast – on Durban July day when she landed the eThekwini Stakes in commanding style to complete a four-in-a-row winning sequence.
A well-deserved, three-month break followed that and Gallic Princess has returned with two excellent efforts in Highveld features. So, this is her peak run and she has the added advantage of the regular partner Gavin Lerena in the saddle.
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If there wasn’t a smidgeon of a stamina doubt and she wasn’t drawn wide at No 12, Gallic Princess would be a good thing and an exotic-bets banker. As it is, she shares 7-2 favouritism in the ante-post betting market with fellow Johannesburg raider Magic School.
This filly from Gary Alexander’s yard is pegged at 110 after three wins in 15 starts, so in the second-best weighted runner. The major plus points are a No 3 gate and a record that shows a liking for the inside track at Turffontein, which is similar to the Greyville layout.
Alexander also saddles Saragon, another with a penchant for the tighter Turfies course and very consistent form.
Handicap-wise, the local challenge is led by Mark Dixon-trained Silent Crusade, while a handy weight allowance for Frank Robinson’s promising three-year-old Love Bomb brings her right into the picture, even at this early stage of her development.
Baby Shooz in the Christmas Handicap (Race 6) is the pundits’ choice as a banker for the day. Having finished out of the first three once in nine starts – and that under lights for the first time – the gelding does, indeed, look the business.
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The course-and-distance winner for Peter Muscutt is drawn seventh and has ever-willing and reliable Muzi Yeni to guide him.
At the other end of the exotic punting spectrum, the “field” option might be advisable in the 1100m Southeaster Sprint in Cape Town.
Five of the nine candidates clashed on 21 November, all finishing behind Erik The Red in a 1200m feature, but with little to choose between them, excuses considered.
Only two runners are at double-figure odds on the bookmaker boards, but even they cannot be discounted when carrying just 52kg apiece.
Something to watch out for is visiting trainer Dennis Drier coming into form – as he invariably does every year at around this time. His Cartel Captain tops the handicap with 60.5kg, but is nicely drawn at four and loved his last Cape summer sojourn – registering a win, a second and a fourth.
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Happy festive racing!
Kenilworth, Race 7:
3 Constable, 1 Cartel Captain, 7 Gainsford, 5 Aqua Bolt
Greyville, Race 6:
7 Baby Shooz, 6 Mount Laurel, 2 Mr Fitz, 11 Approach Control
Greyville, Race 7:
2 Love Bomb, 12 Gallic Princess, 3 Magic School, 1 Silent Crusade
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