The focus at Turffontein on Saturday will be on three ladies – one human and two equine.
The Grade 1 HSH Princess Charlene Empress Club over 1600m is the main event and the fact the race carries a stake of R750,000 in these trying times is due to the help of the Princess and her father, Mike Wittstock.
“Our connections in Monaco, the Monaco Sport Of Kings Group, wanted ensure this race would carry a decent stake,” explained Wittstock yesterday.
The two equine champions are Empress Club, after whom the race is named, and current 5-10 favourite Summer Pudding.
Dubbed the Galloping Goldmine, Empress Club stole the hearts and captured the imagination of the racing public with her sensational record of six Grade 1 wins.
Many see Summer Pudding as Empress Club’s natural successor and the Paul Peter-trained daughter of Silvano has done little wrong. She has won 10 of her 11 starts and is unbeaten in eight races and this course.
With a merit rating of 129, the four-year-old filly is 5kg better weighted than Running Brave, her closest rival based on ratings. She is 9kg better off with Lady Of Steel, who has been the object of some betting support and is now quoted at 7-1, and has a 14.5kg advantage over improving Seehaam.
The latter, however, is probably better than her current merit rating of 100.
Summer Pudding put her Cape Town loss behind her with an emphatic win in the Grade 2 Colorado King Stakes over 2000m at this course last month, and her trainer is delighted with her current condition. “She’s extremely well and please God, she should win,” said Peter yesterday.
The stable has been in excellent form and while he realises Justin Snaith will be hard to beat in the trainers’ championship, Peter’s goal for the season is to win the Highveld title. A race of this nature will certainly aid his chances.
Warren Kennedy will once again take the ride on Summer Pudding.
Lady Of Steel looks the main danger. She finished 2.10 lengths behind Summer Pudding in the Grade 1 Woolavington 2000 at Greyville last year at level weights and will prefer this 1600m.
However, Summer Pudding has matured substantially since then and gains an extra leg when racing on her home turf.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 restrictions have prevented Princess Charlene from attending this year’s event, but plans are afoot to makes this Royal Race Day bigger and better from next year.
“We want to ensure this race is on a par with all the Grade 1 fillies’ races around the country. We are looking at a substantially larger stake and hopefully we can entice all the best runners from all over,” said Wittstock.
Despite the restrictions, the on-course team will ensure tomorrow is a great day for owners, trainers and their guests. “We’ve taken a room at Turffontein and it will have a Gatsby 1920s theme to it.
“We’re obviously limited with what we can organise, but it will be a wonderful event.”
Princess Charlene and the Racing Association will also donate to three elected charities.
Race 9 is the Monaco Merchants 1400, a handicap for fillies and mares, and it would be apt if Bella Rosa, owned by Princess Charlene, could win this.
Sadly, this filly cannot buy a decent draw and will again have to jump from barrier No 10, not a great place to be over 1400m at this track.
Jack Milner’s selections
Race 1: 13 Smorgasbord, 15 Star Aglow, 8 Letsdoit, 3 Bronco Blitz
Race 2: 11 Quest From Afar, 2 Canary Walk, 5 Desert Miracle, 10 Meteoric
Race 3: 2 Eyes On Tiger, 6 Katzenthal, 1 Promise To Dream, 3 Lazy Guy
Race 4: 9 Good Queen Bess, 2 Dragon Queen, 6 Talladega, 8 Lucky Shamrock
Race 5: 5 Kwite A Trip, 4 Godswood, 6 Ace Of Spades, 7 Donny G
Race 6: 1 Bold Ransom, 2 Mardi Gras, 9 Garden Party, 7 Chief Of State
Race 7: 1 Summer Pudding, 4 Lady Of Steel, 3 Kelpie, 8 Seehaam
Race 8: 7 Putontheredlight, 3 Approach Control, 2 Astrix, 6 Down To Zero
Race 9: 2 Say When, 6 So They Say, 7 Future Lady, 3 Bebop
Race 10: 9 Dynamic Lass, 1 Whole Of The Moon, 2 Just Judy, 12 Last Song
Race 7 No 1 Summer Pudding
Race 8 No 7 Putontheredlight
Race 7 1×4
tabonline.co.za – Jack Milner