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Picture: Cousin Casey and Charles Dickens clash in Saturday’s R2 million Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas (Photos taken by Wayne Marks). 

Cape Racing 

Rating racehorses is part art/ part science, and it’s rare for figure-makers to be in complete agreement. Charles Dickens has an Official Merit Rating of (121) ahead of Cousin Casey (115) and two Highveld raiders, Union Square (116) and Shoemaker (114.)
Karel Miedema’s Raceform takes a more conservative view, using a slightly different scale, but effectively also ranks Charles Dickens on top of the current Classic generation with a RFR of 110 vs 107 for Cousin Casey, and ahead of those Jozi invaders, including Anfields Rocket (RFR 103, draw 13/15).
Respected classical weight handicapper, Charles Faull reckons that Charles Dickens “could be the next Sea Cottage, Horse Chestnut or Politician in SAF’s racing value hierarchy.’”
Faull would like to reserve judgement till season end, but his preliminary ratings based on the chestnut son of Trippi’s concession of weight at a remarkable last start drubbing of older former Cape Guineas victor, Russian Rock send him into the figure makers’ stratosphere – 131 + vs Cousin Casey 128.
He also sees this year’s field as particularly strong with the potential to yield five + individual Grade 1 winners over time.
One of those, At My Command (OMR 109) fared well at the barrier draw and will have the inside alley (1). He has twice run with distinction against the track bias and may upset if getting the run of the race.
Trainer Mike de Kock has a brilliant record in the Guineas so to overlook his runners is folly. Union Square (drawn 4) and Shoemaker (7) must up their figs a few ticks – not inconceivable given the surges of improvement properly conditioned three-year-old thoroughbreds can make.