Anyone who comes to Turffontein tomorrow is sure to get the royal treatment as Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco will be ruling the roost.
The Grade 1 Empress Club Stakes has been renamed in her honour and in keeping with her support for the underdog, the former South Africa Olympic swimmer will also be sponsoring two Maiden Plates that carry prize money of R250,000 each.
Be warned, this is not an easy card but the rewards will be handsome for anybody who gets it right. The Empress Club Stakes could be one of the simpler races to fathom as there are some runners who are far better handicapped than others.
On paper three horses stand out – Fort Ember and Star Express among the older runners and Safe Harbour among the three-year-olds.
There is a lot to like about Safe Harbour who should be at her peak for this run. She is the highest merit-rated runner and as a three-year-old gets the 2.5kg weight-for-age allowance from the older fillies.
Trained by Sean Tarry, she ran a great race when going down a neck to Orchid Island in the Grade 1 Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic over 1800m at this track and had to do so from a wide draw. On this occasion she jumps from barrier No 6 and is likely to prefer 1600m. S’manga Khumalo takes the ride.
Fort Ember has faced some of the best in the land, including Legal Eagle, and has not embarrassed herself. This will be her third race after a layoff and back in fillies’ company she should be very competitive. Anton Marcus takes the ride on the Paul Peter-trained daughter of Elusive Fort and they have benefit of jumping from No 1 draw.
Star Express is well weighted but Justin Snaith’s charge has to jump from No 11 draw. The same is true for Al Haawra who is even worse off at No 17.
As a result third place could go the way of another Tarry-trained runner, Trophy Wife, who ran a great sprint last time when a 1.75-length second behind Carry On Alice.
There are two Listed races at Greyville on Sunday – The Sledgehammer and The Scarlet Lady for fillies and mares – both over 1800m. Justin Snaith has a strong hand in both and the two runners from his yard – Elusive Silva and Prince Of Wales – could fight out The Sledgehammer, with the edge given to Elusive Silva and Anthony Delpech.
However, Lucky Houdalakis could pilfer The Scarlet Lady with Banking April who is the only six-time winner in the field.