THERE is nothing the Tobie Spies stable will enjoy more than winning Saturday’s CTS1200 on Sun Met Day at Kenilworth.
The winner’s stake of R2,5-million is a serious consideration. This is the type of cash that can make a stable’s entire season successful in one afternoon. But it’s also about proving to critics that last season’s Gr1 Gold Medallion winner is still the horse he used to be, and that his so far disappointing Cape campaign can end in triumph.
Corne Spies, speaking for the stable, said: “The CTS Sprint has always been our target and we are confident we can share in the prize money. Actually, we believe we can win it as Van Halen has beaten much stronger over 1200m, including our main danger Cirillo. If he brings his best to the racetrack he will be hard to beat, and indications are he is right back to his best. His work is top class, he is sound and well.”
Van Halen trailed in last in his first Cape start, the Merchants, when jockey Craig Zackey reported something amiss. “There was nothing physically wrong with him, he was fine after the race,” said Corne. “Perhaps he had an off day, it was his first run at Kenilworth.”
He finished last again in his second Cape run, the G1 Cape Guineas, beaten 13 lengths by Soqrat and Corne assessed: “He lost five lengths at the start and never got much nearer.”
Then, on 22 December, Van Halen finished sixth in the Need For Speed Sprint, beaten 4.6-lengths by Pleasedtomeetyou. “That was a good run and showed that he was returning to himself. He gave the winner 5kg, the runner-up, 3rd, fourth and fifth horses 8kg each. The third and fourth horses are in the CTS Sprint with us, at level weights, I fancy we’ll beat them with an 8kg turnaround!”
Spies added: “We have done some extra stalls practice with Van Halen, we don’t want him to be sluggish away again. Now it’s up to him, we are confident of a big run. Fingers crossed things fall into place for us this time.”