Picture: Piere “Striker” Strydom after winning the Gr 2 WSB Green Point Stakes on See It Again
Cape Town has come alive as revellers roll in for one of the country’s biggest social occasions, the WSB Cape Town Met, while racing fans brace themselves for a day of top class thoroughbred action with the added attraction being that it is a World Pool event.
Piere “Striker” Strydom is in the mother city at his Air B&B, which is just a street away from Groot Constantia, the oldest wine estate in the country.
There could hardly be a more relaxing environment in which to prepare for his ride on the Met’s long odds-on favourite, the Michael Roberts-trained See It Again.
The Twice Over colt is not the only hot favourite he is riding on the day.
He has been dieting to make the weight on the Tony Peter-trained filly Bavarian Beauty, who is 18/10 favourite for the R7.5 million Gold Rush. As a filly she gets a 2,5kg allowance and carries 57.5kg.
Piere is not under any stress to lose just one more kilogram, because he has been on the diet for two weeks already.
The pressure of being on a 5/10 Met favourite would in normal circumstances be immense, but the 57-year-old Strydom has been known for his ice cool temperament throughout his career … and he also believes age is an advantage rather than a disadvantage.
He said, “It is a benefit because I know what I have to do, I know what I must do … it doesn’t always happen, but I know what I’ve got to do, so I see my age as a benefit.”
He admitted See It Again’s draw of eleven out of 13 was a bit of a concern.
He said, “I don’t see a lot of pace so that’s going to be a concern, because being drawn wide when there’s no pace you either have to go forward or back … if you just go along at the pace you want to go you might he caught wide. So the draw is definitely not a good thing.”
See It Again started off his Cape Summer campaign with a scintillating victory in the Gr 2 WSB Green Point Stakes over 1600m and among the defeated was the country’s best miler Charles Dickens.
However, Charles Dickens exacted revenge in no uncertain terms when beating See It Again by 2,75 lengths in the Gr 1 L’Ormarins King’s Plate, the country’s premier weight for age mile.
See It Again is a middle distance horse ideally suited to the 2000m distance of the WSB Cape Town Met and beyond, but Piere was naturally a touch disappointed to have not confirmed the Green Point form.
He said, “I was a little bit disappointed … I thought he would go through and finish his race off, but it looks like he hit a little bit of a flat spot there. He had a lovely position and when my frontrunners faded away I obviously found myself up there, but I still didn’t press the button until the 400m mark and there was at that stage just two lengths between the whole field.”
It was still a fine performance by a horse not suited to a mile and the pundits did not waste time in saying he would be a short price for the Met.
Piere spoke about the great job Michael Roberts had done in preparing See It Again for each of his races in Cape Town, with the help of Paddyy Kruyer, in whose yard he is staying.
Piere said about the Gold Rush favourite Bavarian Beauty, who also jumps from a tricky draw of ten, “She must have a chance. The only concern is the travel from Jo’Burg and the left hand turn … the others have got all the experience of a left hand turn. But I think she is one of my better rides.”
He said the Gareth van Zyl-trained Asiye Phambile had run “a great race” last time when beaten just 0,30 lengths into second in the Gr 2 Cartier Sceptre Stakes over 1200m at odds of 33/1, but he said he could not see her troubling them in the Gr 1 weight for age City Of Cape Town Majorca Stakes over 1600m against a top class field, which includes the Equus Horse Of The Year Princess Calla and the dual Gr 1 winner Beach Bomb. However, this Hollywood-owned What A Winter filly is a progressive sort and she might surprise him again.
Striker is not overly bullish about the chances of the Sean Tarry-trained Thunderstruck in the Gr 1 World Pool Cape Flying Championship and said, “I would have preferred it if it was being run over 1200m and obviously Isivunguvungu needed the run last time. I’m hoping for a place and will obviously be very grateful if he wins over the 1000m course and distance again.”
See It Again will be attempting to make it two years in succession that owner Nick Jonsson’s cyclamen, spectrum green and white colours have crossed the line first in Cape Town’s biggest horse race. He won last year’s renewal with the Justin Snaith-trained Jet Dark, who, like See It Again, was bred by Drakenstein Stud. Jonsson has three other runners in the race but his chief hope of retaining the trophy is with See It Again.
Striker concluded by saying he had initially battled to get rides after his comeback, but more than a year-and-a-half down the road he seems further away from retirement than he was then.
He explained, “Since picking up the ride on See It Again in last year’s Cape Derby, due to my horse being scratched, things just started happening for me and now that I’ve had a few winners I’ve had job offers.”
He said as long he was still in that situation he would just be taking it “day by day”.