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Winter Cloud won impressively over 1000m on Saturday (Picture: Wayne Marks)

The Gr 1 SA Fillies Sprint has been opened up by the export of last year’s winner Princess Calla overseas and there are a few horses who are putting up their hands as potential candidates.

Down in Cape Town on Saturday the Candice Bass-Robinson Drakenstein Stud homebred Winter Cloud proved her credentials with a fine win over 1000m under Anthony Andrews, bursting through the middle with a strong late run to win a Cape A Stakes race by a cosy 0,75 lengths. She beat some good horses like Dance Variety, former Equus Champion Sprinter Rio Querari, Mufasa, Mr Cobbs and Jerusaleema Rain. She was only merit rated 108 before that race, but has always struck as one with plenty of class. She was second in the Gr 1 Allan Robertson at Hollywoodbets Scottsville last season over the SA Fillies Sprint course and distance. She could start coming into her own. However, her stablemate Miss October beat her by 1,70 lengths at level weights in the Gr 2 Cartier Sceptre Stakes over 1200m and looks capable of further improvement. She is merit rated 112.

On Saturday at Turffontein Standside the Tony Peter-trained One Fell Swoop claimed her second successive Gr 3 when winning the Sycamore Sprint over 1160m, although on paper the horse to take out of the race is the runner up, the Mike de Kock-trained White Pearl.

One Fell Swoop, a Varsfontein Stud-bred filly by Lancaster Bomber was handy in the running and travelling effortlessly before kicking on well.

She runs in the colours of Suzette Viljoen, who won the SA Fillies Sprint with the superstar Captain’s Ransom two years ago.

Viljoen also has a possible contender for the SA Fillies Sprint in One Fell Swoop’s 122 merit-rated stablemate Golden Sickle, who has five wins and a short-head second in six starts on the Highveld, although all of her races have been over 1000m as opposed to the 1200m of the SA Fillies Sprint.

White Pearl, dropped in trip on Saturday after being the bridesmaid to some top class sorts like Mrs Geriatrix, Gimme A Nother, Egyptian Mau and Let’s Go Now, ran on strongly to be beaten just 0,25 lengths under Piere Strydom. However, she was giving the winner 5kg. It was in fact her fourth Gr 3 runner up finish frustratingly enough for her breeders Wilgerbosdrift and Mauritzfontein who are still awaiting her popular sire Danon Platina’s first stakes winner.

Another contender Mrs Browning had to run from draw one on Saturday, which made it tough, and she had to give One Fell Swoop 6kg and was beaten 2,60 lengths.

On the downside for the chances of that trio of horses in the SA Fillies Sprint is they were merit rated just 99, 106 and 109 before Saturday’s race.

This is well below the required class of a normal SA Fillies Sprint winner.

However, they are progressive and could still improve.

Sceptre Stakes third-placed the Justin Snaith-trained Kwinta’s Light will also be a contender. Jonathan Snaith said she would definitely be targeted at the SA Fillies Sprint and added that Justin “is desparate to get some Gr 1 black type for her owners (Maine Chance Farms stud and Pamela Isdell).”

On the Highveld another filly who has caught the eye since being run exclusively over sprints is Time Fo Orchids. She won her last race off only a 96, but she has been impressive and looks capable of competing at the highest level.

Last season’s Equus Champion two-year-old Mrs Geriatrix was very impressive when winning the Gr 1 Allan Robertson Championship over the SA Fillies Sprint course and distance last season as a two-year-old. She was beaten only 2.05 lengths in the Sceptre Stakes when giving the winner October Morn 2kg and that was when generally appearing to be way below her best during her stint in Cape Town. If she can bounce back to her best she will be a leading SA Fillies Sprint contender.

Cold Fact, fourth in last year’s SA Fillies Sprint, could be a contender this year.

Stablemates Gobsmacked and Moonshingthrough have been out of form and will need to bounce back as will Cape horse Distant Winter.

Kiss Me Captain would not be out of it this season.

Troppo Veloce is improving and beat One Fell Swoop at level weights over 1160m recently with another progressive sort in Cullinan Blue narrowly behind them.

KZN hopes could rest with Asiye Phambili, who is currently trained by Gareth van Zyl. She is better suited to a mile, but finished a flying second in the Sceptre Stakes, beaten just 0,30 lengths.

Captain’s Christy, Oriental Bouquet, No Filter, Bomber Girl and Bevies Delight have shown ability, but would need considerable improvement on current form.

Considering the dearth of highly rated female sprinters around the land the SA Fillies Sprint will be tempting for horses who go a bit further.

Rascova is merit rated 115 and is ideally suited to 1400m, but she has plenty of speed and should be able to make the drop to 1200m.

The Gr 3 Prix du Cap winner Double Grand Slam is now merit rated 117 and would be a very interesting runner considering how easily she won the Prix du Cap.

Happy Chance, Just Be Lekker, Shantastic, Gimme A Shot, Marigold Hotel, Rapidash, Humdinger, Celtic Rumours are others who could step down in trip as could Gqeberha’s Luna Halo , while the like of Iphiko wil be stretched by 1200m.

There might be others who escaped the memory banks but the race looks there for the taking this season.