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Picture: Charles Dickens treated a good field like “selling platers” in his last outing (Wayne Marks).

The Grade 1 Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas to be run at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth on Saturday December 17 will be the acid test for the most talked about horse for years, the Candice Bass-Robinson-trained Charles Dickens.
South African sports fans tend to be bandwagon in their opinions and the public have certainly heaped pressure on to the Candice Bass-Robinson yard.
Not that they will really feel it.
After all, the weight of expectation was on the great Mike Bass-trained Pocket Power year after year and he always came through it with flying colours.
The Bass yard are known for their fine horsemanship and racing nous and have never been ones to jump the gun when assessing a horse.
In fact there pre-race comments are never ever cock-a-hoop.
However, that has not stopped the public from heaping some premature accolades on to their unbeaten three-year-old.
Charles Dickens is now being referred to in just about every discussion as the next Sea Cottage or Horse Chestnut.
The problem is that he went from being the possible best three-year-old in the country, and as one who could possibly follow in the footsteps of Pocket Power, to the next Horse Chestnut on the grounds of a preparation run in an Allowance Plate over 1400m.
The effortless way in which he passed the field in that race and won easing up by 3,25 lengths from previous Cape Guineas winner Russian Rock was deserving of high plaudits.
He gave Russian Rock 1,5kg meaning he faced him on 7.5kg worse than weight for age and, as they would say in Britain, treated him like a selling plater.
One respected pundit exclaimed that it was “Sea Cottage stuff”, which it could well have been.
He did not call him Sea Cottage or Horse Chestnut, but his comment, knowing South African sports fans, might have prompted the accolades that followed.
The more conservative would ask how the run, for example, compared to Jet Dark’s phenomenal L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate run last season, in which he left the 127 rated Kommetdieding standing still in the last 200m to win by 2,25 lengths?
Interestingly, Jet dark was among the vanquished when Russian Rock won the Cape Guineas.
He was unlucky in that race. However, three-year-olds can also develop into superstars later than November and December.
Looking at an overseas example, Michael Roberts’ first British Classic victory was in the 1991 2000 Guineas on Mystiko, who would never enter any debate about great racehorses.
However, in fourth place behind him that day, beaten no fewer than 8,75 lengths, was Generous, who would never at the time have been mentioned in any discussion about future greats.
Generous went on to win the Derby by five lengths, the Irish Derby by three lengths and the King George and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes by seven lengths, before being caught wide from a wide draw in his last career start as odds-on favourite in the Arc and finishing unplaced.
Generous was awarded a Timeform rating of 139, the joint 16th highest in history and just eight point behind Frankel.
Generous and Jet Dark are just two examples of how dramatically the three-year-old picture can change in the second half of the season.
Another example is provided by Variety Club, who was not being talked about in the same terms as Charles Dickens even after he had slammed a Cape Guineas field that included the like of Gimmethegreenlight by 3,45 lengths in 2011.
He went on to prove himself a truly great miler, one of the greatest in SA history.
Cousin Casey was initially the most talked about three-year-old this season, having put in some high class performances in his last four races as a two-year-old, while at the same time looking like a progressive sort who would train on.
He has only run once this season, in the Grade 2 Punters Cup, and he won impressively again.
There is a very good line in that race to compare him to Charles Dickens.
Cousin Casey beat At My Command by a length in the Punters Cup and Port Louis by 2,80 lengths.
Charles Dickens beat At My Command by three lengths in the Grade 3 Cape Classic over 1400m and Port Louis by 4,05 lengths.
However, Charles Dickens faced them at level weights whereas Cousin Casey gave both of them 2kg.
So that makes Charles Dickens and Cousin Casey inseparable on formlines. 
It could also be argued that Cousin Casey should be given some compensation, because the Punters Cup was his first run of the season.
Make no mistake, the aura surrounding Charles Dickens should never be called “hype”, because he has already proved himself something special.
However, the plaudits referring to him as the next Horse Chestnut should perhaps have been reserved until he had at least taken part in a Grade 1 race.
His date with destiny is on December 17 in what will be the most exciting renewal of the Cape Guineas since the great Dynasty was being talked about in similar terms back in December 2002.
It is in the record books that Dynasty was beaten by half-a-length in the Cape Guineas at odds of 1/5 by the Mike de Kock-trained 5/1 shot Domino Man.
However, that does not mean Dynasty’s star is still not a glittering one in the history books as he went in to win all four of his remaining races as a three-year-old, all of them Grade 1s, culminating in his celebrated performance in the July.
Charles Dickens, likewise, looks destined for greatness, win or lose on December 17.
Whether he is the next Horse Chestnut remains to be seen.
And could there be any Generous’s in the Cape Guineas field?
One that springs to mind is the De Kock-trained Shoemaker, who has been eyecatchingly impressive in his luckless defeats in both the Grade 3 Allied Steelrode Graham Beck Stakes and the Grade 2 Jonsson Workwear Dingaans.