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Barbaresco (JC Photos)

The big question tomorrow at Turffontein Standside is whether the Johan Janse van Vuuren-trained three-year-old Gimmethegreenlight gelding Barbaresco can join a host of his paternal siblings as a classic  candidate when running in a MR 96 Handicap over 1600m.

To put that question into perspective the reigning champion stallion Gimmethegreenlight is coming off a classic race double with his superstar progeny Sandringham Summit and Gimme A Nother toying with the opposition in the Gr 2 TAB Gauteng Guineas and Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas respectively.

In the Gauteng Guineas his gelding son Gimmeanotherchance ran an unlucky fifth, having been in the group who were stuck behind Mondial, who could not go with the pacesetting vanguard.

In the Gauteng Fillies Guineas his daughter Let’s Go Now ran fourth.

Meanwhile, down in Cape Town, Gimme’s son Green With Envy, who was a close fourth in the Gr 1 Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas, looks set to be favourite for another classic, the Gr 1 Cape Derby, after an impresssive win with topweight in the traditional pointer, the Gr 3 Schweppes Politician Stakes.

Gimme’s son Tail Of The Comet started favourite for the Cape Guineas, but disappointed and there were question marks about whether he stayed the trip. He then proved he stayed it with a flying third in the R7.5 million Gold Rush, having been boxed in in the running and then being badly hampered in the straight.

Barbaresco faces some decent older horses on Saturday and will be running off a capped merit rating of 94. On formlines this merit rating could actually be capped by more than 20 points, meaning on paper he could be more than 10kg well in!

Races are not run on paper, but it is interesting to delve into the formline which makes a case for the above statement not being pie in the sky.

Barbaresco had been kept to sprints until the running of the Gr 3 Got The Greenlight Stakes over 1400m. At odds of 33/1 he ran a 1,10 length second to the superstar gelding Main Defender when receiving only 2kg.

This is what the handicappers said about that performance:

The eye-catching BARBARESCO, who produced a much-improved performance, may only be adjusted upwards by a maximum of 3 points in terms of the specific race conditions which prohibit the Handicappers from adjusting placed horses upwards by more than 3 points. Accordingly, 2nd placed BARBARESCO goes up to 94 from 91 and 3rd placed HOTARUBI goes up to 98 from 95 even though both have performed to a significantly higher level. Consequently, these two horse’s merit ratings do not reflect their relative ability to one another after the running of this Grade 3 event, as 2nd placed BARBARESCO is rated 4 points lower than 3rd placed HOTARUBI who he beat by a little over 3 lengths at level weights here.

Hotarubi then came out and finished a three length second to Sandringham Summit in the TAB Gauteng Guineas and was awarded a 116 merit rating.

Barbaresco beat Hotarubi by three lengths in the Got The Greenlight, meaning if the latter is a 116, he could be a 122. However, as main Defender is only 121 and Sandringham Summit is 123, it is probable that Hotarubi’s performance improved from pole position in the Gauteng Guineas, which was the draw Barbaresco had in the Got The Greenlight.

So, it would be more realistic to say that Barbaresco ran to a 115 merit rating in the Got The Greenlight and subsequent results have proved that it was accurate … at least on paper.

On the downside, Main Defender was said to have been well below his best in the Got The Greenlight and the yard were actually surprised he won, while Sean Tarry questioned whether Hotarubi had actually performed to a 116, considering Sandringham Summit was coming back from layoff and still won easily.

Nevetheless, there is no question that Barbaresco is “well in” tomorrow.

It was not surprising he improved with a step up in trip in the Got The Greenlight, because he is out of the Fort Wood filly Negroamaro.

The latter was high class over a mile and middle distances and finished second in both the Gr 1 SA Filllies Classic and Gr 1 Woolavington 2000 on top of winning the Gr 3 Fillies Mile and finishing second and third respectively in the Gr 2 Gauteng Fillies Guineas and Gr 2 KZN Fillies Guineas.

Barbaresco should enjoy the further step up in trip to 1600m and has a fair draw of five under Ryan Munger.

However, he won’t have it all his own way despite his capped merit rating.

Just Nuisance could be dangerous from pole position. This progressive Flower Alley colt won well last time out in his first start out of the maidens and that saw him unbeaten in two starts over this trip. He beat a couple of decent horses in Eiffel Tower and Biofarmer.

Biofarmer was beaten 17 lengths by Main Defender in the Betway Graham Beck Stakes over 1400m, but an indication that this three-year-old crop might not have much depth is that Eiffel Tower has a comfortable victory over Hotarubi to his name in a 1400m race.

The topweight in tomorrow’s race, Silent War also has a good record over 1600m, and possesses a fine turn of foot. From a good draw of four he should be right there.

Home Of The Brave is also a classy sort and although he comes off a win over 2000m, he is effective over this course and distance too. He finished 1,25 lengths behind Silent War when they met over this trip at the Vaal last September and is now 3,5kg better off. However, he does have a tricky draw of ten to overcome.

Raffles also has the ability to be involved here. However, he last ran in September when tailed off after losing two lengths at the start and returning with an abrasion on his head, so he might need it.

It is going to be an intriguing race.

This might well be a prepartion for Barbaresco ahead of the Gr 1 SA Classic, but analysts will also be looking at his performance it as a point of reference when assessing just how good this three-year-old male crop is.