The SA spring season moves into full swing on Saturday, with Turffontein (inside) and Durbanville hosting two graded events apiece.
Joburg takes pride of place, where a couple of undefeated newly turned three-year-olds will attract plenty of attention.
Equus champion juvenile filly Anything Goes is up first in the aptly named Joburg Spring F&M Challenge. She carries a 2kg penalty for her Grade 1 Thekwini win, but with a handy 53,5kg to shoulder and the inside stall gate, Stuart Pettigrew’s star looks primed to stay undefeated. Sean Tarry’s Grade 2 winner Golden Belle is likeliest to give cheek.
The Joburg Spring Challenge for males follows. Mike de Kock’s Australian import Mount Pleasant (pictured, left) hasn’t been out since a hugely impressive Grade 2 SA Nursery win over stable companion Najem Suhail in June.
Saudi bound Nourbese was beaten over four lengths into third and has a subsequent Grade 2 win and Grade 1 runner-up slot to boast about, so Mount Pleasant is almost certainly well undervalued with a MR of ‘only’ 112.
And that will need to be the case, as he meets a duo of seasoned Grade 1 performers from the Sean Tarry operation in Chimichuri Run and Cirillo. But with a mere 51kg De Kock’s rising star looks a tough nut to crack, even if going around a turn for the first time.
At Durbanville the Grade 3 Diana Stakes and Matchem Stakes provide a good pipe opener for some star names before the Cape season proper.
The Diana sees Grade 1 winners Clouds Unfold and Mississippi Burning go head to head. But neither is proven at this track, and both Pretty Young Thing and Third Runway should be respected receiving weight.
Our Prize Jewel could also be a wild card. The Duke Of Marmalade filly has looked rather classy while winning three from four in fine style. This is a leap in class, but she could well prove competitive, and is sure to run way above her rating of 89.
The Matchem appears far more straightforward. Kasimir rather stands out here, with only newly gelded Twist Of Fate a potential threat if he rediscovers his best form.