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By Mike Moon

Horse racing correspondent

No Questioning Cape Town’s top three-year-old

‘Lunatic’ gelding promises ‘a lot to look forward to’.

It’s not often a horse’s merit rating is hoisted 20 points in one go, but that’s what the National Horseracing Authority’s handicappers have done to Cape Town-based three-year-old Questioning.

Trainer Vaughan Marshall’s gelding made short work of the 1400m Grade 3 Cape Classic at Durbanville on Sunday, drawing away from his generational local peers to post a 1.75-length win.

Marshall said the handicappers had Questioning “all wrong” with a 91 MR and the result seemed to confirm his view. Little prompting was needed to hike the son of Querari to 111.

The NHA explained that Questioning was “hugely progressive”. It made third-placed Green With Envy the line horse for their calculations, which left him unchanged on MR 101.

Runner-up Snow Pilot got a hefty 10-point increase – from 95 to 105 – after beating Green With Envy by 2.26 lengths at level weights.

Afterwards, Marshall said Questioning was “rather special” and there was “lots to look forward to”.

Stable confidence was apparent when he was backed into 33-10 favouritism from an opening 9-2.

Three on the trot

The rapid improvement has come despite the dark bay being “quirky” in Marshall’s words and “a lunatic” in the opinion of jockey Bernard Fayd’Herbe. It seems the team now has the measure of the gelding and he has won three on the trot.

The Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas on 16 December is an obvious next step and it will be interesting to see if Marshall decides Questioning needs more racecourse experience via the traditional Guineas prep race, the Punters’ Cup (formerly Selangor and Concorde) in mid-November.

The big question about the Cape Guineas, of course, is whether the Joburg titans Main Defender and Sandringham Summit will make the trip south to test their much-proclaimed sophomore superiority in the 1600m Grade 1 contest.

After their ding-dong battle in Saturday’s Graham Beck Stakes at Turffontein, Main Defender and Sandringham Summit were being talked of as a potentially historic rivalry – akin to Horse Chestnut and Pablo Zeta, or Elevation and Sentinel.

A big-money, crowd-pulling match race between the two, at their mutual home course, is being mooted – which might preclude a Cape foray.

Other Highveld raiders in the Guineas are likely to include Sean Tarry’s similarly progressive Tail Of The Comet and Mike de Kock’s Gimmeanotherchance.

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