Muzi Yeni and S’Manga Khumalo with the Betway Summer Cup at the media launch for the big race last week (Picture: 4Racing)
Final field announcements are usually accompanied by grumbling from connections of the borderline cases who don’t get in.
The final field panellists for the Betway Summer Cup will have had a difficult task due to the factors of recent form versus merit rating versus Summer Cup log position.
The final field will be announced on Wednesday (15 November) and the official barrier draw will take place in the evening with an 18H00 for 18H30 start at Marabi Club in downtown Johannesburg.
Turf Talk predict the field will be made up of the following 20 horses but recent form might see the panellists having a different opinion:
Puerto Manzano (125)
Cousin Casey (123)
Winchester Mansion (121)
Anfields Rocket (120)
Bless My Stars (119)
Safe Passage (117)
Second Base (117)
Billy Bowlegs (117)
Future Pearl (116)
Son Of Raj (115)
Atticus Finch (111)
Royal Victory (111)
None Other (110)
The unluckiest ones if that is the field would be East Coast (110), Lady Of Power (107) and Electric Gold (105).
However, the recent form of the former pair makes it hard to make a case for them and the latter horse’s low merit rating makes it easier to leave him out than others.
The possible grumbles could be that Meridius has only ever raced in one stakes race and that was a win in a Listed race over 1600m. He has placed over 1800m, but has never raced beyond that trip and has never raced in a stakes race over a middle distance trip.
However, Meridius was number 20 on the last log.
East Coast and Lady Of Power have done little to prompt a leapfrogging over him.
Electric Gold, on the other hand, finished second in the Gr 3 Betway Victory Moon Stakes over 1800m. However, at the weights his peformance was below that of a number of Summer Cup entries, including Litigation and even East Coast.
He did perform slightly better at the weights than None Other, but the latter was the winner of the Gr 2 SA Oaks and the Gr 2 Track And Ball Oaks and was 15th on the last Summer Cup log.
Another grumble could be that Nebraas, who was in 16th place on the last log, finished downfield in the Victory Moon and was well beaten by both Electric Gold and East Coast and performed worse than them at the weights too. Nebraas’s two best middle distance performances have been a 2,25 length second to Rain In Holland over the Summer Cup course and distance in a Gr 2 race when giving her half-a-kilogram and he was a 2,30 length fifth in the Gr 1 weight for age Premier’s Champions Challenge over the Summer Cup course and distance. Those two performances underline his potential and proved he was up to his merit rating over middle distances. However, will they count more than rcent form?
Former SA Derby winner Aragosta, 17th on the last log, performed even worse than Nebraas in the Victory Moon and was beaten 14,25 lengths. His best recent middle distance perfomance was a second place finish in the Gr 3 Splashout 2200 where he carried 60.5kg and beat Nebraas, carrying 62kg, by four lengths and another Summer Cup entry River Romeo by 5,15 lengths.
Supplementary entry Royal Victory has not placed in a middle distance Graded race, but he was comfortably clear of both East Coast and Electric Gold in last season’s Gr 1 SA Classic over 1800m when finishing a three length fifth to Anfield’s Rocket at level weights and he will receive 3kg from the latter in the Summer Cup. Royal Victory recently showed his effectiveness over middle distances when winning the Non-Black Type Michaelmas over 1900m in impressive style despite carrying 61.5kg.
Talking of the SA Classic both East Coast and Electric Gold were well clear of Shoemaker in the latter race. The latter’s best middle distance performance has been a 3,70 length fifth in the Gr 1 Daily News 2000, where he did beat East Coast and also Summer Cup entry and SA Derby winner Son Of Raj. However, River Romeo a Summer Cup entry rated just 101, was only 0,90 lengths behind Shoemaker that day, which opens the question of whether that performance by Shoemaker is good enough to warrant a place. Shoemaker was 19th on the last log and his only run this season has been a 3,75 length eighth in the Gr 2 Allied Steelrode On A Mission Chariry Mile, where he was narrowly in front of Meridius.
So there were some difficult decisions for the panellists to have made, but the anticpation of their decisions does always add some intrigue to big races.