Punters not bothered by champ’s wide draw in Summer Cup
Zero-to-hero Atticus Finch is a popular call with 54kg and gate 6.
Puerto Manzano. Picture: JC Photographics
Puerto Manzano will have to call on his considerable reserves of stamina, his big action and his affinity with Turffontein racecourse if he is to successfully defend his Betway Summer Cup title on 25 November.
The Argentinian-bred gelding drew gate 16 out of 20 for Joburg’s premier horse race when the final field was unveiled on Wednesday. As expected, he was assigned top weight of 60kg.
It might not be the ideal slot from which to start the 2000m contest, but trainer Johan Janse van Vuuren and jockey Gavin Lerena will not be overly perturbed.
Puerto Manzano’s record at Turffontein provides plenty of solace. The six-year-old “hard knocker” has 11 victories to his credit – all of them at Turffontein and two of them Grade 1s. Chuck in five seconds at the same venue and you might be tempted to call the fella “King of the Big T”.
His last outing – and win – was in the Charity Mile three weeks ago when he powered to the line from stall No 15.
The wide draw certainly didn’t deter punters, who immediately backed Puerto Manzano into joint favouritism at 5-1 – with Durban July winner Winchester Mansion.
The latter fared a bit better with the draw, landing No 11 – slap bang in the middle of the barrier. He carries 58kg – a lot less than on that famous day in Durban, but less than the 59.5kg he shouldered manfully to a notable fourth place in the Charity Mile.
Alongside Winchester Mansion in gate 12 is the enigmatic Cousin Casey, recently arrived at Sean Tarry’s Randjesfontein yard. He was most impressive when just failing to head Puerto Manzano in the Charity Mile, but has been drifting slightly in the ante-post betting odds.
This is partly due to a flood of money for Atticus Finch, recent winner of the 1800m Victory Moon Stakes who wasn’t even in the final Summer Cup Top 20 log released three weeks ago. After drawing a handy gate 6, Alec Laird’s lightly raced four-year-old slipped into third place and 13-2 on the bookmakers’ boards.
There were no surprises at the top end of the weights in the final lineup.
A handful of “marginal” Summer Cup entries cracked the nod – thanks to several last-minute scratchings.
Atticus Finch, Electric Gold, Royal Victory, Litigation, Lady Of Power and East Coast were not on the Top 20 log released three weeks ago, but all are now included – at 54kg and under sufferance – in the Grade 1 event to be contested over 2000m at Turffontein on 25 November.
The result of the Victory Moon Stakes a fortnight ago was the ticket for a few of these, with Atticus Finch’s victory, Electric Gold’s runner-up spot and Litigation’s fourth proving clinchers. East Coast finished midfield that day but was judged to have done reasonably well at the weights.
Meridius and Lady Of Power might be considered a tad fortunate to make the lineup given their recent form, but the scratching of the likes of Nebraas and None Other opened doors.
Betway Summer Cup (R5m). Final field (no, horse, weight, MR, trainer, jockey):
1 Puerto Manzano (ARG) 60 125 JA Janse van Vuuren Gavin Lerena
2 Cousin Casey 58.5 123 Sean Tarry Grant van Niekerk
3 Winchester Mansion 58 121 Brett Crawford Kabelo Matsunyane
4 Anfields Rocket 57 120 Grant Maroun Raymond Danielson
5 Bless My Stars 56.5 119 Sean Tarry Richard Fourie
6 Bingwa 56.5 118 JA Janse van Vuuren Serino Moodley
7 Safe Passage 56 117 Mike de Kock Luyolo Mxothwa
8 Second Base 56 117 Robyn Klaasen Kaidan Brewer
9 Billy Bowlegs 55.5 117 Brett Crawford S’manga Khumalo
10 Son Of Raj 54.5 115 Weiho Marwing Athandiwe Mgudlwa
11 Aragosta 54.5 114 Mike de Kock Jarryd Penny
12 Shoemaker 54 112 Mike de Kock Diego De Gouveia
13 Atticus Finch 54 111 Alec Laird Calvin Habib
14 Royal Victory 54 111 Nathan Kotzen Muzi Yeni
15 Zeus 54 111 Fabian Habib Denis Schwarz
16 East Coast 54 110 Mike de Kock Juan Paul v’d Merwe
17 Litigation 54 110 Sean Tarry Craig Zackey
18 Meridius 54 110 Tony Peter Philasande Mxoli
19 Lady Of Power 54 107 MG Azzie/AA Azzie Chase Maujean
20 Electric Gold 54 105 Tony Peter Jason Gates
Fans will not be getting another Main Defender-Sandringham Summit epic on Summer Cup day, with only the latter having accepted to run in the Jonsson Workwear Dingaans, the famous three-year-old contest that sets the scene for the Classic programme to come.
Trainer Tony Peter took Main Defender out at the final declarations stage – possibly because his prodigy drew very wide at the 1600m barrier.
Jockey Calvin Habib has taken the fall for Sandingham Summit’s defeat at the hands of Main Defender in the Graham Beck Stakes at the end of October, with former champion jockey Gavin Lerena taking over the reins of David Niewenhuizen’s colt in the Dingaans.
With his fierce rival out of the picture, Sandringham Summit appears to have the race at his mercy, with Mike de Kock’s Gimmeanotherchance and Robyn Klaasen’s Purple Pitcher the only viable threats.