Avatar photo

By Mike Moon

Horse racing correspondent

When will Dyce dice it out with fellow speed merchants?

Lucky Houdalakis nominates his star for Vaal’s Grand Heritage.

Dyce has officially become part of a powerful triumvirate at the top of South African racing’s sprinting ranks following victory in the 1160m New Turf Carriers Merchants at Turffontein on Saturday.

National Horseracing Authority handicappers were so impressed by the colt’s performance that they hiked his merit rating from 116 to 130. A 14-point leap for a Grade 3 win is not messing about.

When will the three kings of speed face off?

Trained by Lucky Houdalakis at the Vaal, Dyce joins Cape-based Gimme A Prince and KwaZulu-Natal’s Isivungvungu, both of whom hit the 130 mark earlier in the year.

The trio are only behind Charles Dickens (MR132) and See It Again (MR131) at the top of the country’s rankings. (Incidentally, the latter two renew their fierce rivalry in the 1600m WSB Green Point Stakes at Kenilworth this weekend.)

The question now: when are the three kings of speed going to meet to settle the argument?

The obvious answer should be the Cape Flying Championship on Cape Town Met day, 27 January.

While Isivunguvungu’s trainer Peter Muscutt has been a regular recent raider to Cape Town, there’s no indication that Houdalakis will undertake an often problematic trip down from the Highveld and we might have to wait until the KZN winter season for the showdown.

Houdalakis, who masterminded the all-conquering international campaign of great sprinter J J The Jet Plane, has nominated Dyce for the 1475m WSB Grand Heritage at the Vaal on 9 December – a race in which he outranks the other hopefuls by some distance.

Wins after injury

Meanwhile, Dean Kannemeyer has Gimme A Prince entered for the Grade 2 Cape Merchants at Kenilworth on 10 December – clearly as his principal warm-up for the Flying Championship.

Dyce is a five-year-old who has had a promising career interrupted by injury on more than one occasion. Since returning from a nine-month hiatus in late September, he has reeled off three quick and easy wins, culminating in Saturday’s 4.25-length demolition job on Summer Cup day.

Runner-up Gladatorian was more than a length clear of the third-placed horse, making for a strung-out finish unusual for the dash up the Joburg 1160m straight.

Dyce, who races in the orange and black silks of Dave Shawe, is bred in the purple, being by William Longsword out of an Australian mare by the mighty Galileo.

An interesting aspect of Saturday’s Merchants was that Dyce wasn’t supposed to win it at all, let along cop a 14-point penalty, in the eyes of punters who had backed four-year-old Main Defender into odds-on favouritism. The latter, who was probably at his very minimum distance, was withdrawn by the stipes in the infamous Tony Peter saga.

• Royal Victory, winner of Saturday’s headline event, the R5-million Betway Summer Cup, had his MR pushed up from 111 to 119 by the NHA. This includes the three-points under-sufferance gap he was at in the race, with the minimum weight being 54kg for MR113.

Access premium news and stories

Access to the top content, vouchers and other member only benefits