Hluhluwe can remain unbeaten as a three-year-old (Picture: Wayne Marks)
Hluhluwe Can Score 5th Careeer Win In Saturday’s Gr 1 Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas
Graeme Hawkins (Gold Circle)
The R2-million Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas (Gr 1) over 1600m – the first “Major” of the Season – heads an interesting 10-race programme of quality horse racing at Kenilworth tomorrow.
Less than half-a-length separated Hluhluwe, Snow Pilot and Green With Envy in the Cape Punters Cup (Gr 2) over the same course and distance three weeks ago but Hluhluwe finished best of all from the rear of the field to grab the honours in the final few strides and he could confirm that form again tomorrow.
Being by Trippi out of a mare by Giant’s Causeway, there is every reason to believe the scopey Hluhluwe is still on an upward curve, and he is certainly entitled to his position at the top of the betting boards. However, there is clearly little to choose between the chief protagonists going into the Guineas and Hluhluwe will have to bring his “A” game to add this important Classic to his resume. Owned by Nick Jonsson, trained by Justin Snaith and ridden by Grant Van Niekerk, Hluhluwe gets the nod to beat Snow Pilot and Green With Envy in a carbon copy of the Cape Punters Cup outcome.
Green With Envy was also blasting home from well off the pace last time and only just failed to snatch the runner-up berth away from Snow Pilot. The Kannemeyer family have enjoyed great success in the Cape Guineas over the years and Green With Envy looks set to make a bold bid to provide the stable with their tenth winner of this prestigious event. To be frank he was a trifle disappointing at Hollywoodbets Durbanville in October, but he clearly relished the Kenilworth track last time and on the evidence of that performance is a serious contender for the lion’s share of the purse.
Snow Pilot has a ready-made Guineas pedigree and the form and class to go with the blood. His sire Lancaster Bomber already produced the WSB Fillies Guineas (Gr 1) winner just a couple of weeks ago and Snow Pilot’s dam, Snowdance, is a Grade 1-winning daughter of Captain Al, himself a past winner of the Cape Guineas. JP van der Merwe retains the ride for Drakenstein Stud, and he may just have learnt a little more about Snow Pilot, given that he was riding him for the very first time in the Punters’ Cup. The Guineas may be the same course and distance as the Punters’ Cup, but it’s a different day, with different conditions and more than likely a different pace. Drakenstein are well on their way to another record-breaking Season and another Grade 1 winner for them would come as no surprise.
Prior to the running of the Punters’ Cup, Questioning was a convincing winner of the Cape Classic (Gr 3) over 1400m at Durbanville when he stormed home ahead of Snow Pilot, Green With Envy and Zil Moris. That form was turned on it’s head in the Cape Punters’ Cup when Questioning appeared to find the extra 200m a little beyond him. But Vaughan Marshall has trained five previous winners of the Cape Guineas, and it may not be wise to completely ignore Questioning based on his last run alone.
Tail Of The Comet was sent out an odds-on favourite to win the Cape Punters Cup when finishing fifth behind Hluhluwe. He appeared very one-paced in the closing stages but the son of Gimmethegreenlight may prove capable of better and the Sean Tarry / Richard Fourie combination is always worthy of utmost respect.
Red Palace, the only filly in the line-up, is an interesting runner. She has been scratched at the start of her last two planned engagements, but she is clearly talented and is unbeaten two-from-two as a 3yo. Red Palace is likely to go forward but Anthony Andrews is sure to set a pace that suits his filly and not necessarily her male rivals.
There are two supporting features on the card, the first of which is the R225 000 Splashout Victress Stakes (Gr 3) for fillies and mares over 1800m. The race has a pretty open appearance, but I am going to throw my hat into the ring with the Andre Nel-trained Saartjie who looks good value at her current odds of 5/1. The daughter of Dynasty was comfortably beaten by Enemy Territory in the Summer Bowl three weeks ago, but Saartjie is now a massive 6,5kgs better off and I expect her to turn the tables on Brett Crawford’s runner.
The latter’s stable companion, Happy Chance, and the Drakenstein-owned pair of Hold My Hand and Gold Poker Game are worthy of consideration but Saartjie may take some beating and gets the vote to score at the expense of Enemy Territory and Happy Chance.
The R350 000 Ridgemont Peninsula Handicap (Gr 3) over 1800m is billed as the seventh race on the programme and being a Handicap should produce a keenly contested finish. There is lots to like about Ponte Pietra who jumps out of pole position and only has 53,5 kgs to shoulder. The 4yo son of Vercingetorix has his peak run come Saturday and Dean Kannemeyer has always believed that we would see the best of him this Season. It is premature to suggest he could match strides with the best of his generation at WFA, but this race sets up beautifully for Ponte Pietra and he is expected to carry his light weight to victory.
The Snaith runners, Rockpool and Future Swing, rate the major dangers in a competitive renewal while Money Heist and Sugar Mountain may be worth throwing into larger permutations.
Kannemeyer’s only other runner on the day, Mia’s Harper, rates the one to beat in the ninth race, a Class 4 Handicap (F&M) over 1200m. She has most to fear from Great Cat, but Mia’s Harper has shown her best form over this course and distance and should prove a tough nut to crack.