Picture: Royal Aussie winning the Gold Rush at the WSB Met meeting last year (Image: Wayne Marks)
The Justin Snaith-trained Royal Mo gelding Royal Aussie finished just 1,25 lengths behind See It Again in the L’Ormarins King’s Plate and had some of the fastest fractions in the straight, yet the former is 5/10 for Saturday’s WSB Met with the sponsor and the latter is 14/1.
The reason is obviously because that was a mile race and See It Agan is a twice Gr 1 winner over the 2000m trip of the Met, while Royal Aussie is yet to be tried beyond a mile.
Turf Talk’s assessment of Royal Aussie’s ability to stay the 2000m trip is that he has plenty of speed in his pedigree, but there is hope because his second dam is by Zabeel, who had 45 individual Gr 1 winners and is a known stamina influence.
On the other hand Royal Aussie does look like a miler.
However, Snaith Racing seemed bullish he would see it out.
Jonathan Snaith said, “He’s doing incredibly well, never been better. Interestingly, I believe his 400m to finish in the LKP was the fastest. If Kabelo rides him cold he’ll turn it on and will fly at them the last two furlongs. On paper there looks no reason why he wouldn’t relish the extra trip. Kabelo knows how to win Gr1 races and is a very accomplished young rider.”
Royal Aussie is drawn eight in the 13 horse field.
There is the saying horses for courses, but some horses also thrive at a certain time of the year. Royal Aussie won at the WSB Met meeting last year, scoring in the lucrative R7.5 million Gold Rush over 1600m.
The most fancied of Snaith’s five Met runners is Trippi gelding Pacaya, who is 8/1 second favourite with the sponsor.
Justin Snaith said, “There is definitely a big one in Pacaya. He’s got the quality, you’ve seen him in the prep races, there is something about him. Every jockey wanted the ride on him, so if you take all my runners in the race a lot of them are all pointing at him, so you’ve got to respect that. I know there is something in there. In the Hollywoodbets Durban July he got severely cut into. I’ve brought him nicely into this race, he’s back to form. Due to AHS etc it has been very had to travel horses around the country, so it has maybe weakened the field a bit, but take away nothing from a horse like See It Again … I wouldn’t want to travel too far to take him on either! Quite frankly Pacaya is as good as anything Jo’burg could bring down, let’s hope he can fire it up for the owners.”
In form JP van der Merwe rides Pacaya from a plum draw of three.
The biggest outsider of the quintet is former Gr 1 Cape Guineas winner Double Superlative, who will be ridden by UK-based Daniel Muscutt from a plum draw of two.
The Twice Over entire is 33/1 with the sponsor.
Justin said, “We had him too handy in the L’Ormarins King’s Plate, but it was part of the tactics. Now over 2000m we can give him more of a chance. He’s the closest horse I can give to Daniel Muscutt that is like a European horse. Daniel is fast becoming one of the top riders in the U.K. and it won’t be long I think before he will be fighting out a championship. From what I’ve heard and seen he looks like a great horseman. Double Superlative is an entire and is the most gorgeous looking individual. If he fires up to his old form, he’s a Gr 1 winner, he certainly could be a dark horse in the race. Obviously we give a lot of respect to the favourite, who looks set up for a big win, but one thing I can tell you is that on days like this you can never count some of us out.”
Stable jockey Grant van Niekerk will stay aboard Mucho Dinero, on whom he won the Gr 2 Anthonij Rupert Win Premier Trophy over 1800m. This four-year-old Twice Over gelding has only had 13 career starts and has won six of them, including his last four. He is unbeaten this season and his career wins include four over 1800m, one over 2000m and one over 2400m. So he will easily get the trip and considering he came from way off the pace to win the Premier Trophy over 1800m and yet stays 2400m, the 2000m trip should be right down his alley. The best might not have been seen of him yet and he is a dark horse at 15/1 odds.
The United States gelding Without Question is said by the yard to have not been the same horse since his poor Hollywoodbets Durban July run. However, he ran a cracking race over the too sharp 1200m in his penultimate start in the Gr 2 Cape Merchants, where he was beaten just 3,90 lengths, 2,15 lengths behind Double Superlative. He was subsequently beaten 4,10 lengths into sixth place in the Premier Trophy, but was staying on so should be cherry ripe for the WSB Met. He jumps from draw 9 and Rachel Venniker becomes the second woman in history to ride in the Met.