The racing on offer in South Africa this weekend is remarkable and marks the start of a great sifting process of top horses ahead of the Durban July and other major races over the winter.
Champions Day at Turffontein on Saturday boasts an epic showdown between three of the turf’s newest stars in the 4Racing Premier’s Champions Challenge – namely, Summer Pudding, Got The Greenlight and Malmoos.
Also on the Turffontein programme is the Computaform Sprint which has attracted speed from around the country in search of the most-desired short-dash trophy in the land – Rio Querari and Russet Air from Cape Town, Chantyman and Vernichey from Durban and True To Life and Bold Ransom from the local ranks.
Supporting these two Grade 1 events are four Grade 2s, with high quality thoroughbreds wherever one looks.
Almost before fans can draw breath following Saturday’s action, they will turn their attention to Greyville on Sunday, when KwaZulu-Natal’s winter season officially kicks off with a programme of three Grade 2 races: the WSB Guineas, Fillies Guineas and Drill Hall Stakes.
No less than the country’s top-rated horse, Rainbow Bridge, lines up in the latter, alongside the likes of his brilliant stablemate Golden Ducat and the dashing chestnut Catch Twentytwo.
Superstar sprinter-miler Captain’s Ransom looks unbeatable in the Fillies Guineas, whereas the Guineas is a much tougher puzzle to solve with the likes of unbeaten Cape hero Kommetdieding, Joburg prodigy MK’s Pride, SA Guineas champion Russian Rock and Cape Derby winner Linebacker.
Sprinters excepted, all the runners mentioned above are among the 54 early entries for the Durban July, so punters will be scrutinising every hoof-fall for pointers to that momentous event.
Picking a winner in the triangular battle in the 2000m Champions Challenge can only be a matter of subjective affection and most players of the 12-million Pick 6 bet will simply include all three and move on to tougher tasks.
One of those tasks is deciphering the Computaform Sprint and its sprinkling of coastal raiders. Always up for a fight, top Cape trainer Justin Snaith has responded to Highveld rival Mike de Kock’s bared challenge to venture upcountry and take on the “Vaalies” on their own turf. One can imagine Snaith relishing the post-race interview banter if his charge Rio Querari justifies the heavy betting support he’s getting in the ante-post market.
Snaith certainly looks likely to be on TV at Greyville after his filly Captain’s Ransom contests the WSB Fillies Guineas. The daughter of Captain Al has won five out of six, including a couple of Grade 1 affairs, and her only conceivable threat is fellow Capetonian Princess Calla, from the Adam Marcus stable.
What a weekend.
5 Happy And Glorious, 4 Aragosta, 1 Fisher King, 3 Winter With Jo
11 Battle Force, 1 Expressfromtheus, 2 Ikigai, 3 Zouaves
9 Under Your Spell (Best Bet), 1 Cold Fact, 6 Kwazzi’s Lady, 7 Shield Of Roses
6 Smorgasbord, 9 Sheela, 4 Rollwiththepunches, 2 Pyromaniac
8 Sweet Future (Value Bet), 9 Celestial Love, 5 Tropic Sun, 2 Gallic Princess
1 Running Brave, 6 Sparkling Water, 7 Netta, 4 Seehaan
2 Rio Querari, 5 Chantyman, 6 Bohica, 11 Vernichey
7 Summer Pudding, 1 Got The Greenlight, 8 Malmoos, 9 Second Base
1 African Adventure, 2 Factor Fifty, 6 Odd Rob, 5 Don’t Look Back
14 I Dream Of Genie, 8 South Boy, 9 Raisetheredlantaern, 1 Eyes On Tiger
6,9 x 2,3,4,5,8,9 x 1,4,6,7 x 1,2,5,6,9,11 x 1,7,8 x 1 (R864)
9 x 6,9 x 5,8,9 x 1 x 2,5,6 x 1,7 x 1 (R36)
7 Isivunguvungu, 6 No Name Brand, 2 Serena Slam, 5 Grey Ocean
3 Leopard Lady, 12 Lhasa Star, 8 Dragon Queen, 2 Namaqua Dove
11 Raisehallelujah, 7 Command Council, 12 Arminius, 3 Coral Copy
12 In Auro, 8 Saint Philip, 15 Dream Destiny, 4 Spring Fling
7 Rainbow Bridge, 4 Catch Twentytwo, 2 Trip To Africa, 6 Wild Coast
3 Captain’s Ransom (Best Bet), 8 Princess Calla, 9 Zarina, 4 Only The Brave
1 MK’s Pride, 7 Russian Rock, 2 Linebacker, 8 Kommetdieding
8 Dancing Feather, 5 Third Runway, 2 Mount Laurel, 7 Jasmine
2 Transonic (Value Bet), 1 Midnight Badger, 8 Prince Of Taranto
1 The Bayou, 5 Greenlighttoheaven, 3 Count Marsh, 12 Chattertons Keeper
4,6,8,9,10,12,15 x 4,7 x 3 x 1,2,4,5,7,8 x 2,5,8 x 1,2,8 (R756)
7,11 x 8,12,15 x 4,7 x 3 x 1,2,7 x 5,8 x 2 (R72)