No racing fans at Turffontein on Saturday is tragedy with a capital T. Some of the country’s best horses will be in action at the city track for one of the most popular meetings on the calendar, writes David Mollett (courtesy of Business Day).
Nevertheless, punters could be in the money by following young Luke Ferraris. The champion apprentice has been in good form this term and the suggestion is to take a double — Malmoos to win the Graham Beck and Victoria Paige to place in the Peermont Emperors Palace Charity Mile.
Not surprisingly the betting market on the Mile is wide open. Riverstown was the early 13-2 co-favourite with Justin Snaith’s raider Crown Towers, but support has come for Cornish Pomodoro who has shortened to 11-2.
While Riverstown boasts decent form, it is surely significant that champion jockey Warren Kennedy will partner stablemate Astrix. The Vercingetorix gelding won in good style last time out but has a wide draw to overcome.
However, there has to be a strong chance of Sean Tarry taking the R105,000 first cheque with the champion trainer represented by the impressive trio of Tierra Del Fuego, Cornish Pomodoro and Virginia Paige.
Though Tierra Del Fuego — a fine advert for his sire Skitt Skizzle — has top-weight and a wide draw, it is possible he will prefer this shorter trip to the 2,200m of the Durban July in which he was never a factor.
Cornish Pomodoro looked a horse with huge scope as he stretched clear to win over 1,600m at the Vaal. He is well-drawn and the mount of Lyle Hewitson so we will see if he is up to his toughest task to date.
Interestingly, both Cornish Pomodoro and Virginia Paige have won over 1,600m at the Vaal this season clocking almost identical times. The former stopped the clock in 97,67 sec and the latter in 97,62 sec. It is Virginia Paige’s close third to Summer Pudding (beaten only three-parts of a length) which suggests she has a leading role to play. Ferraris rides her for the third time and will be able to place the filly wherever he wants from barrier three.
Crown Towers, a son of Epsom Derby winner Camelot, arrives on the back of an impressive win in the Michaelmas Handicap and is expected to mount a strong challenge. The one nagging reservation is that he has let his backers down in the past — most noticeably when beaten at 15-10 in the Thukela Handicap on July day.
One of the most interesting runners is five-year-old Charles, who has his second start for Mike de Kock. He will have been ring-rusty on his reappearance when beaten nearly five lengths by Astrix. Can he turn the tables on only half a kilo better tems? Possibly, as he has the advantage of stall two.
Tristful — bred by Gary Player — will provide SA’s golfing legend with the perfect 85th birthday present if Tony Rivalland’s Trippi gelding takes top honours. Unfortunately, the Champions Cup fifth is drawn in the nearby Rand Stadium.
It is tough making a final selection but Victoria Paige gets the nod to beat Crown Towers, Cornish Pomodoro and Astrix.
A look at the other feature races:
EMPERORS PALACE READY-TO-RUN CUP
Stuart Pettigrew has announced that the favourite, Anything Goes, has injured herself in her box and will not run. This is a huge blow to the stable and the filly’s legion of fans who have cheered her to five straight wins.
The door is now open for Paul Matchett’s filly War Of Athena to take advantage and land the R450,000 first prize. The main worry for her connections is another wide draw.
MK’s Pride, Somasonic and Afternoon Tea now all come into the picture. It could pay to take swingers with the latter who is well drawn at barrier two.
GRAHAM BECK STAKES
After his super-impressive katest win, bookies seemed on the generous side (unusual for them) in pricing up Mike de Kock’s runner, Malmoos, at 11-10 in early betting. This was a surprise considering his chief rival looks to be his stablemate Al Muthana.
But Al Muthana — a son of sprinter Deep Field — is going 1,400m for the first time whereas Malmoos has won over the course and distance. Predictably, the 11-10 was soon snapped up leaving Malmoos’ price at 7-10.
This might end up a match race between two four-year-old fillies both with 52,5kg on their backs — Dance Class and Invisible. Perhaps Dance Class needs to win this race to get into the Summer Cup for which she is second favourite at 10-1.
The grey Invisible should go well from pole position and is preferred to Warren Kennedy’s mount Heart Stwings.
GOLDEN LOOM HANDICAP
A three-horse war between Bohica, Gallic Princess and Invidia and they are selected in that order. Bohica has done this column proud in his last three outings and can reward his backers once again.
Gallic Princess, owned by Gary Player and Larry Nestadt, turned the Thekwini Sprint into a procession on Durban July day and now makes her seasonal bow. Candice Dawson’s stable has made a quiet start to the new campaign, but one daren’t leave the daughter of Vercingetorix out of Pick Six perms.
Invidia is reunited with Aldo Domeyer but the four-year-old has not won in his four starts since Met day at Kenilworth.
No surprise that Lyle Hewitson maintains his association with Ecstatic Green who so nearly beat War Of Athena last time out. Caralluma was narrowly defeated in the Golden Slipper and is a good backup for last season’s leading owner Chris van Niekerk.
Jockey arrangements suggest Due Diligence, the mount of Callan Murray, is the pick of De Kock’s trio.
1st Race: (15) Sweet Future (11) Oblige (9) Florentine (3) Verinova
2nd Race: No Selection
3rd Race: (2) Lucy Belle (1) Spice Market (3) Lotus (13) Right Choice
4th Race: (1) Ecstatic Green (2) Caralluma (5) Due Diligence (6) Tanzanite Queen
5th Race: (2) Malmoos (6) Al Muthana (1) Forever Mine (5) Willow Express
6th Race: (10) War Of Athena (11) Afternoon Tea (1) MK’s Pride (2) Somasonic
7th Race: (11) Virginia Paige (6) Crown Towers (16) Cornish Pomodoro (9) Astrix
8th Race: (6) Dance Class (8) Invisible (7) Heart Stwings (1) Saragon
9th Race: (5) Bohica (3) Gallic Princess (4) Invidia (1) Rivarine
10th Race: (6) Sworder Street (2) Factor Fifty (3) Imperial Ruby (5) Snow Palace