A total of four Cape-based horses have been entered in the R2-million SA Classic and the R1-million Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic at Turffontein on 1 April.
Andre Nel, private trainer to prominent Cape owner Sabine Plattner, has boosted the entries for the Classic to 10, by entering Kampala Campari and Loadshedder in the race, which forms the second leg of the SA Triple Crown, as well as Philae in the SA Fillies Classic, while Joey Ramsden has three horses currently based on the Highveld, and has entered Captain Gambler in the SA Fillies Classic.
“Loadshedder probably won’t run in the SA Classic,” said Nel. “I nominated him just in case but have other races pencilled in for him – he might stay in Cape Town for the Winter Series or go to Port Elizabeth for the Guineas there.”
Querari three-year-old Kampala Campari has raced only three times for two wins and a second up to 1600m.
“He is a very nice horse. We’ve been planning this raid for a while and have brought horses up to Joburg twice in preparation for this trip north.
“Both were successful, with three of the five horses we floated up placing and two of the fillies just not acting in the soft going. I’m not scared, but it is daunting.”
He brought Percival, accompanied by handicapper Silk Trip, to the Highveld last month for the Tommy Hotspur Handicap. Both horses finished fourth in their respective races. Then this month Leisure Trip raced for him in the Acacia Handicap, finishing unplaced. Travelling companions Cuduiari and Guilty Pleasure finished third and 10th respectively in handicaps at the same meeting.
Kampala Campari drew at No 7, slightly better than two of the horses who are likely to vie for favouritism in the race, Janoobi (No 9), Al Sahem (No 5) and Heavenly Blue (No 10), who finished first, second and third in the 1600m Betting World Gauteng Guineas this month.
Janoobi, Heavenly Blue and Alaadel hail from the Mike de Kock stable, while Al Sahem is trained by Sean Tarry, who also entered Furiosa and Tilbury Fort.
Assistant trainer Mathew de Kock said the stable is still undecided whether Janoobi will go for the SA Classic or the R1-million Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m on the same day. He firmly believes Heavenly Blue is the best of his three in the Classic.
He said: “It’s frustrating that Heavenly Blue’s last three draws were 15 out of 16; nine out of nine and now 10 out of 10. We’ve asked the Racing Bureau to investigate. I know the draws are supposed to be random, but it doesn’t seem that way at this stage.”
Alaadel was only narrowly beaten by Bold Viking in the Egoli Mile last time out, an effort De Kock thought was “good”.
“I don’t think he’s as talented as Janoobi or Heavenly Blue at this stage but I think he’ll hold his own,” said De Kock. “He’s been put into the SA Classic as a possible pacemaker.”
While the Gauteng Guineas went the way of De Kock with Tarry second, training honours were switched in the Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas, with the champion trainer’s charge Smiling Blue Eyes beating Al Hawraa with Orchid Island third.
A week ago De Kock was convinced Orchid Island would be the best of his three entries in the Fillies Classic, and he said: “She has a tough task from draw No 16!” He added sardonically: “Very random!”
“Orchid Island is doing well and will be better suited to the 1800m,” he continued.
Al Hawraa drew pole position and he is “very happy about that. She ran a good race in the Gauteng Fillies Guineas and I think she will reproduce that effort.”
His third entry is Belle Rose, and he is convinced she will improve over the longer distance.
Philae, a two-time winner from three starts, drew well at No 2 and Nel is expecting a big run. “She’s a very nice filly, a bit of a late maturer which is why she didn’t get to run in the features during the Cape season. But I think her three starts to date have been good.”
Captain Gambler, ran an exceptional third behind Edict Of Nantes and Zodiac Ruler in the Investec Cape Derby in January and Ramsden said: “Plans are fluid at the moment, but the Oaks is her main objective.”