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Snow Pilot was awarded a lowly 97 AbilityRating for his Gr 1 Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas win by respected racing analyst Karel Miedema (Picture: Wayne Marks)

Turf Talk

Karel Miedema was unimpressed by the Gr 1 Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas on Saturday and awarded the winner Snow Pilot an ability rating (AR) of only 97.

Unless mistaken, Miedema is yet to award a Cape-based three-year-old, male or female, an AR of 100 or more this season.

Snow Pilot’s Cape Guineas ATR is 20 points below the 117 high Miedema has awarded for any horse this season, which was given to Highveld-based three-year-old Sandringham Summit for his second place finish in the Gr 3 Betway Graham Beck Stakes over 1400m.

On Saturday Miedema gave four horses AR’s of more than 100 in the Gr 3 Peninsula Handicap, with the fourth-placed seven-year-old Nebraas being given 108, eighth-placed Waterberry Lane 107, third-placed Pacaya 106 and fifth-placed Sugar Mountain 101.

The L’Ormarins King’s Plate will be the acid test for the three-year-old males and also for Miedema’s ratings, which will either be vindicated or proven wrong.

Miedema awarded crack Highveld filly Gimme A Nother 107 for her romp in the Gr 2 Mike de Kock Ipi Tombe Challenge and runner up Feather Boa got 103.

Mark van Deventer was a bit kinder in his speed assessment of the Cape Guineas.

He wrote about the weekend’s racing:

Snow Pilot takes off in Cape Guineas

Snow Pilot (speed score 100) received a perfect steer from JP van der Merwe to win the Cape Guineas at Kenilworth on Saturday, in an adjusted time bang on standard for this class. Plaudits to winning connections; Justin Snaith and Drakenstein Stud – what a loss to the SA industry is the late, lamented sire Lancaster Bomber.

Whilst there was nothing flukey about the potently bred, Snow Pilot’s stalk and pounce victory, the second placed, Red Palace (a filly) so nearly pulled it off from draw 10 racing handy. She missed her two previous outings after being banished for bad behaviour at the start, so came into the Guineas off a two-month break and just ran out of condition the last 100m. She could be hard to beat in the Paddock Stakes.

Hluhluwe and Green with Envy both got figs of 97 – the latter staying on nicely enough from far back. He goes down as a Cape Derby possible.

Earlier Saartjie won the G3 Victress Stakes, outdueling Happy Chance with Hold My Hand again clunking up too late for third spot. The time of this race was 3.7 seconds slower than the subsequent G3 Peninsula Handicap also run over 1800m, won by 33/1 stunner, the stayer, Master Redoute (s/s 107) who suddenly hit a career peak dropped back to a shorter route.

Both Saartjie and Master Redoute are trained by Andre Nel, who had a most productive day, also winning the last race with Axl (s/s 92, has run 96 @ best.)

There are just so many variables to account for in horse racing. For some this makes the game just too difficult and dispiriting; whilst other devotees are fascinated/challenged by all the peculiar angles and try to uncover advantageous betting edges that way.

Nel said afterwards that he took a gamble by basically not working Master Redoute at all in the month before the Peninsula Handicap. This unconventional approach worked – his charge came in fresh, happy horse – and hit a career best figure.

Likewise, jockey JP van Der Merwe said a minor yet significant change to the bit worn by Snow Pilot helped him settle better. He’d been outrun late in his two previous starts after going keenly – this time he sustained his finish better having not wasted energy pulling around the bend.

In all highly competitive sports, such marginal gains can be the difference between winning and losing. That said, there was nothing “marginal” about Gimme a Nother”s romp in the Ipi Tombe Stakes on Sunday. Mike de Kock’s hugely impressive filly powered away from Feather Boa to win by five lengths, in the process recording a speed fig of 107, which, with a sectional upgrade, could go as high as 111.