Only 11 go to post for the R1 million Grade 1 contest over 2000m, but pundits are in broad agreement that only two of those have zero chance of winning. Connections of Sovereign Spirit and Silver Operator might disagree with this assessment, but, honestly, if either were to win it would be up there with the biggest shocks ever seen at Kenilworth racecourse.
Belgarion, Rainbow Bridge, Do It Again and Queen Supreme are simply too good and too consistent to all fail on the day. And, if they somehow do, the likes of Golden Ducat, African Night Sky and Running Brave will be the ones to take advantage.
Durban July 2020 winner Belgarion tops the bookmakers’ boards at 16-10, which seems a tad short in such awesome company. This punter enthusiasm is driven by the Justin Snaith-trained gelding’s two most recent outings – a brilliant win in the Green Point Stakes after a five-month layoff and a running-on third in the Queen’s Plate. Both those races were over 1600m and Belgarion is more suited to the 2000m of the Met.
Snaith and jockey Richard Fourie are brimming with confidence, reporting their charge as “flying” in his work.
One factor against Belgarion is his barrier draw of 11 out of 11. Being trapped at the rear of the field as it gets stretched around the turn can test the resolution of the speediest finishers, particularly if there’s a headwind.
What does one say about the redoubtable Rainbow Bridge and Do It Again?
The six-year-old adversaries are rated the best two horses in South Africa and the reason is stellar performances, at the highest level, over time. Suspicions lurk that the two are past their best, but you wouldn’t put money on it. Both will be at peak fitness for Cape Town’s premier race and neither would be a surprise winner.
Five-year-old mare Queen Supreme has the strongest case of the three females in the race, having annexed the recent Paddock Stakes for a second year in succession in emphatic style. She has a 2.5kg weight pull on the top boys, which could be telling in a close finish.
With the same weight advantage is raiding Johannesburg mare Running Brave, whose odds of 50-1 (and 10-1 a place) on Friday were a mockery of her form-line. This is a hard-galloper who could easily upset the carefully laid pace strategies of fancied opponents.
What a fairy-tale story it will be for Running Brave’s trainer Fanie Bronkhorst if he were to pull off the Met. He has had a training licence for barely three months and has shown admirable courage in trucking his star all the way from Randjesfontein to Kenilworth to take on the biggest guns in the land.
The 2021 Cape Town Met will be a spectacle to remember for many a year. Unmissable for the racing purist.
Two other Grade 1 races are on the Met day card, the 1000m Cape Flying Championship – one of the country’s greatest sprint events – and the Majorca Stakes – a prestige mile for fillies and mares.
The corny old saying “blink and you’ll miss it” is being trotted out for the former – so loaded with speed it is.
Mighty mare Celtic Sea is a worthy 3-1 favourite, but it’s not easy to make her a good thing. Three-year-old Erik The Red is developing into a fearsome galloper, while his older Snaith stable mate Kasimir can never be discounted at the top level.
ALSO READ: Good spread of runners in this year’s Met
All of Run Fox Run, Russet Air, Vernichey, Ultra Magnus and Rio Querari will be making their presence felt.
The Majorca sees a fascinating showdown between two-time winner of the race Clouds Unfold, from the Candice Bass-Robinson yard, and Snaith’s upstart filly Captain’s Ramson, who dazzled over course and distance in the Cape Fillies Guineas in mid-December.
There are plenty more thrills on the rest of the 12-race Met programme and a possible R15 million Pick 6 pool is on offer.
Of course, no one but essential stable staff and officials will be allowed into Kenilworth – a crying shame, given the quality of the entertainment. The action will be carried live on Tellytrack, DStv channel 249.
Grade 1 race selections
- Race 7, Cape Flying Championship
10 Celtic Sea, 11 Run Fox Run, 1 Kasimir, 12 Erik The Red
- Race 8, Majorca Stakes
10 Captain’s Ransom, 1 Clouds Unfold, 7 Indi Anna, 4 Sing Out Loud
- Race 9, Cape Town Met
9 Queen Supreme, 1 Rainbow Bridge, 2 Do It Again, 3 Belgarion