Sprint features in the Western Cape over the past few years have often seen the same horses competing against one another.

But this year’s Cape Merchants (Grade 2) over 1200m has taken on a different complexion.

It sees unbeaten Captain Fontane make the trip from KwaZulu-Natal to contest his first feature event, while highly rated three-year Ambiorix will also take his place in the line-up.

Hong Kong-based trainer David Ferraris is a joint owner of Captain Fontane who had travel plans to Hong Kong scuppered due to the country’s import protocols. That was good news for South African racing as this son of Captain Al is an exciting prospect.

He has won all four of his starts and really showed his class when coming back from an 11-month layoff in which he was shunted in and out of quarantine in attempt to send him overseas, to win with authority.

He followed that up with an even more impressive victory. Trained by Garth Puller, who has had his string in the care of Eric Sands while they are in the Cape, Captain Fontane has won over distances from 1000m to 1400m.

While taking a massive jump in class, he will have just 54kg on his back which will be made up mainly of a very in-form S’manga Khumalo.  

Vaughan Marshall-trained Ambiorix has run three times for two wins and a second place, but his last victory was in the Grade 1 Gold Medallion over 1200m at Scottsville. While this son of Vercingetorix has not raced since 6 June, Marshall has assured bettors his runner is “fit and well”.

He is carded to carry 52kg, but jockey Richard Fourie will be putting up 0.5kg overweight.
(Fourie not riding and replaced by Oswald Noach-tt)

Others to consider are last season’s Guineas winner, Russian Rock, Captain Tatters and Russet Air.

The Concorde Stakes over 1600m is always seen as a pointer to the Grade 1 Cape Guineas which will be run next month also at Kenilworth, but on the Summer Course.

Malmoos made his name when winning this race last year and this time there look to be three leading protagonists – Good Traveller, Cosmic Highway and Xavion.

Glen Kotzen-trained Good Traveller won the Grade 1 Premiers Champion Stakes over 1600m at Greyville in July and has had a comeback-run over 1000m. He clearly needed it and ought to have tightened up with the benefit of that run under his belt.

Cosmic Highway is trained by Dean Kannemeyer and is expected to improve appreciably from his third-place finish in the Grade 3 Matchem Stakes over 1400m. He is the current favourite but is held by Good Traveller on their run at Greyville.

Keagan de Melo takes the ride.

Xavion is lightly raced but highly rated by trainer Candice Bass-Robinson. The son of Futura produced a strong finish to run third in the Grade 3 Cape Classic over 1400m last month. 

He will love the extra 200m on this occasion and could be the one they all have to beat, especially with Aldo Domeyer aboard.

tabonline.co.za-Jack Milner