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The two words “True Professional” cropped up in Turf Talk recently and – while the country faces numerous problems – the sport of racing is lucky that it has people and horses who fit into this category.

It was Klawervlei CEO, John Koster, who stated that the popular Hollywoodbets Durban July winner, Kommetdieding, was “a true professional in the breeding barn.”

Bloodstock consultant, John Freeman, chipped in reminding readers of “Kommet’s” excellent career record. “He won his only start at two years over 1200m and then rocketed himself to stardom winning the Durban July as a three year-old and then reaffirmed his supremacy as a four year-old beating Jet Dark and Linebacker in the Cape Met.”

The news about Kommetdieding will certainly be sweet music to the ears of his shareholders and his progeny are likely to be highly popular when they reach the sales ring.

This brings us to an interesting question – who is the more popular right now with racing fans “Kommet” or Charles Dickens whose seasonal debut on Saturday had to be put on hold?

Possibly – at this stage – “Kommet” is closer to the hearts of racing fans given his exploits on the track but – just like Grand Prix racing needs Max Verstappen – we need an equine star and Candice Bass-Robinson’s nine-time winner is just that.

In the early market on the Cape Met, Charles Dickens is priced at 7-2 with See It Again at 11-4. It would be foolish to take the former’s price until we know the firm plans for the son of Trippi.

Hong Kong has been mentioned and how marvellous it would be if CD could follow in the hoofprints of Markus Jooste’s best horse,Variety Club. This writer would do everything in my power for a repeat visit – possibly my eighth trip – to the bustling city.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club have their own media team and – in contrast to the Cape – look after overseas journos superbly with five nights accommodation in a five-star hotel.

However, it is the opinion of Turftalk editor, David Thiselton, that Charles Dickens’ route will be next Saturday’s postponed Matchem (weather permitting!) followed by the Green Point Stakes and King’s Plate.

When it comes to “True Professionals” in our jockey ranks two, Warren Kennedy and Keagan De Melo, are now riding overseas but – on the home front – this column would nominate Richard Fourie and Gavin Lerena.

Fourie will be annoyed to pick up a suspension so early in the season which has allowed Muzi Yeni to speed off to the front like the afore-mentioned, Max V. Now those early gains in the season certainly contributed massively to the title wins of Kennedy and De Melo – will they work for Muzi?

Yes, says my better half, and we’ve got a bet (lunch at Joburg’s best steakhouse Thundergun). I kept it to myself that Richard F is 6-10 while Muzi Y is 6-1 – surely a huge price provided he avoids suspensions.

I have always been a huge supporter of Gavin Lerena and he’s started the new campaign in hot form and is in touch in the title race with around 30 winners this term. However, he did say in an interview last week that he didn’t intend to chase all over the country in search of winners so his price of 8-1 is no gift.

When it comes to racing headlines, Gavin is rarely in hot water with the authorities – too many times we’ve had to see how he’s doing after sustaining an injury.


Fancy an early punt on the R5 mllion Betway Summer Cup – look no further than 8-1 shot Dave The King, one of seven entries from the powerful stable of Mike De Kock.

Actually, the stable has not been on the mark in this race in the last decade or so – the last win for the yard was Flirtation’s win in 2010. I remember Nico Kritsiotis’ commentary – he’s usually highly excited in finishes of Gr 1 races but this time his call resembled a eulogy at a funeral.

Dave The King’s Champions Cup third – beaten just 1,35 lengths by Horse-of-the-Year Princess Calla was a superb performance. On that form he holds stablemate, Safe Passage, so why the latter is ahead of him (6-1) in the early market is puzzling.

To their credit, World Sports Betting were out with the betting as soon as the 40 Cup entries were announced and few would argue that Winchester Mansion doesn’t deserve to be the early 5-1 favourite given his excellent performance in the Hollywoodbets Durban July.

The Brett Crawford inmate, who is presumably in the care of the trainer’s son, James, at Randjesfontein has more on his plate this time, but he hasn’t got that many miles on the clock. He has contested just four races in 2023.

Sean Tarry is always a man to be feared and he has five Cup entries. Hard to get excited about Litigation or Nebraas, but the trio of Bless My Stars (6-1), Cousin Casey and Future Pearl are all live candidates.

The debut this term of Cousin Casey – beaten in all four KZN starts during their season – is eagerly awaited. The four year-old is a 16-1 chance in the early market.