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By Mike Moon

Horse racing correspondent

Atticus Finch elbows aside rivals for a place in the Cup

Big race selection panel has a headache with Electric Gold.

Atticus Finch has made nonsense of the Betway Summer Cup log issued a week ago – a month before Joburg’s biggest race.

On that log, the Alec Laird-trained four-year-old didn’t make the Top 20 “likely” candidates, languishing among slim-hopers in the “also entered” ghetto.

But Atticus Finch always had a last chance to find Summer Cup favour – in the Grade 3 Betway Victory Moon Stakes at Turffontein this past weekend. And he grabbed it.

The Laird yard was confident about the son of Master Of My Fate, and he was backed in from 4s to even money by the time the field lined up at the 1800m start.

Jockey Calvin Habib duly landed the coup, easily accounting for fairly classy opposition.

Final field known on 15 November

The National Horseracing Authority responded by bumping up his merit rating from 107 to 111. This only puts him into the lowest rungs of the log ladder, but there is no doubt he’ll crack the nod for the R1-million Grade 1 spectacle when the final field is unveiled on 15 November.

After all, among the horses he left trailing were Nebraas, Son Of Raj, Billy Bowlegs, Aragosta, None Other – all of whom are in the Top 20. Something’s got to give.

Atticus Finch has now won five of nine starts, including the last four on the trot, and is a progressive sort, if a bit of a late-developer.

Runner-up in the Victory Moon, Electric Gold, poses a rather more thorny issue for the Summer Cup selection panel. Tony Peter’s four-year-old got a mere three-pound MR rise – from 102 to 105 – despite also beating all the above-mentioned candidates.

The lowest-rated horse in the Top 20 is at 110.

The handicappers decided 2022 Victory Moon winner Litigation was the correct the line horse and left him unchanged on 110 after he finished fourth, 1.70 lengths adrift.

Slashed odds

Meanwhile, the sudden rise of Atticus Finch in popular perception is reflected in his odds for the Summer Cup being slashed from 33-1 (on 25 November) to 13-2 early this week. That makes him third favourite behind Puerto Manzano (4-1) and Winchester Mansion (5-1); and ahead of early fancies Safe Passage (6-1 to 18-1)and Dave The King (8-1 to 22-1).

Despite the doubts about him cracking the nod, Electric Gold has solid support at 20-1 – having started out at 66-1 at the first-entries stage.

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