It is always a pleasure to watch great horses in action. Anybody who viewed Arrogate’s victory in last Saturday’s Dubai World Cup will appreciate that thrill which covers one in goose bumps.
The R2-million SA Classic over 1800m on the Turffontein Standside track tomorrow could produce the same sort of excitement. While only nine horses are carded to run in this Grade 1 event, the field is of the highest quality.
Champion trainer Sean Tarry and former champion Mike de Kock saddle three runners each while the balance of the field is made up of Unagi, Crowd Pleaser and Cape Town visitor Kampala Campari.
While the latter is unknown at this level, he has a lot to do at level weights and will need to be a lot better than his merit rating of 88. Unagi and Crowd Pleaser look out-classed.
So it should come down to Tarry and De Kock and with Mathew de Kock admitting Alaadel is in the Classic to set “a true-run, honest pace”, that should favour the two leading protagonists, Al Sahem and Heavenly Blue.
They finished second and third respectively behind Janoobi in the Guineas and both will be better suited by the extra 200m.
Janoobi, under Piere Strydom, held on to beat Al Sahem and Anthony Delpech by a long head with Heavenly Blue another 1.30 lengths back.
It is always interesting to listen to the jockey’s comment about the race immediately after the event because all the emotions come out. Delpech felt Al Sahem was “still dumb” but had loads of room for improvement while Murray was almost seething. “When they go over 1800m next time he can never lose,” he muttered.
If you watch the race one might have to agree with him. He did not have the clearest of passages but was running on well. Also, De Kock had said before the Guineas that this was the race Heavenly Blue was being geared towards and that Janoobi was the fitter of the pair.
He confirmed that opinion on Tuesday. “Heavenly Blue’s preparation has gone 100% flawlessly. He’s now very close to his best and 1800m is probably the minimum of his best distance.”
Tarry said it is very hard to measure at work just how green a horse will be, he did add that every run has got to help them with regards to experience. “He seems to have come on from a greenness aspect and fitness aspect and this distance is right up his alley.”
With both horses expected to improve and a decent pace almost assured, this even could be a humdinger. Owing to his experience I feel Heavenly Blue could have the advantage.
However, Al Sahem has great potential and cannot be left out of anything, especially with wily Delpech in the irons.
Janoobi remains the mystery horse. He is bred to easily handle this trip but has tended to pull. If he settles, Janoobi cannot be left out of the reckoning.
Tilburg Fort finished fourth in Guineas, beaten just 2.80 lengths and ran a decent follow up. He gave the impression he will stay 1800m and could be upset material.