Should the top spot go to either incumbent – Mike de Kock or challenger Sean Tarry – the R781,250 winner’s cheque could well swing matters that trainer’s way. Both know what it takes to win this race but it could be De Kock who has the edge.
He saddles two runners in Patriotic Rebel and Canterbury Tales, both of whom will see out the lengthy 3200m. Tarry has three runners – Kolkata, Gold Onyx and E-Jet – but only Kolkata is certain to stay the trip. Many pundits believe three-year-olds do not run well in a race of this nature but De Kock has twice won it with the younger set. Thundering Jet was just a few days into his four-year-old career when he raced away to win in 2007 and in 2010 De Kock won it with three-year-old Ancestral Fore.
This year Patriotic Rebel is the lone three-year-old in the field and son of Stronghold can give the De Kock stable another victory in this event. He looks the horse with the most room for improvement and he demonstrated his wellbeing when finishing a neck second to Master Plan in the Grade 3 Mango 2200 at this course on Durban July Day.
He did not give jockey Anthony Delpech an easy ride as he was hanging quite badly and also got bumped in what turned out to be a rough race. It was opening event on a day in which the first two races had to be cancelled owing to the heavy rains that had affected underfoot conditions and many of the jockeys rode with a bit too much caution.
De Kock will have him spot-on and with further improvement Patriotic Rebel could be the runner to beat.
“I thought he ran a very good race last time,’’ said De Kock. “He’s well weighted and if he stays the trip he’s a big runner. My gut feeling he will stay because he always runs on.’’
Stablemate Canterbury Tale would have been the No 1 choice had it not been for his shocking run in the Grade 2 Gold Vase last time. He won the Gold Bowl over 3200m at Turffontein in April and that proved conclusively he would see out the Gold Cup trip. De Kock has been aiming him at this race but then the four-year-old son of Grey’s Inn trailed in 11.15 lengths behind Kolkata.
“Canterbury Tale is a funny horse. If he doesn’t get cover, he doesn’t run well. He has to get in behind horses and has to drop the bit.
“Draw a line though his last run. He was far too handy and raced four horses wide the whole way.’’
Canterbury Tales runs well for jockey Raymond Danielson, who gets the ride again.
Kolkata has to be respected. He won the Gold Bowl far easier than the 0.75-length winning margin suggests and will have the services of champion jockey-elect Piere Strydom. He has won over 3000m so the distance should not be a concern.
“The only horse I know who stays is Kolkata so he has to be the stable elect. The others are unknown,’’ said Tarry.
“He’s been given a hefty penalty for his Gold Bowl win and and I feel eight points (4kg) over 2400m is steep. But the weights are compressed for this race so he does have an advantage against the bottom weights – although he is at a disadvantage with a runner like Seal. He is well, he has the Strydom factor and a good draw. Everything is in his favour.’’
The horse who could throw a spanner in the works for both trainers is S’il Vous Plait. The Ormond Ferraris-trained gelding is a seven-time winner but is untried over the distance. He was narrowly beaten over 2850m at Turffontein so he should stay. He was an unlucky loser of the Lonsdale Stirrup Cup over 2400m at Greyville in June but Weichong Marwing is back in the country and will be directing the five-year-old son of Silvano to the finishing line.
“Fitnesswise S’il Vous Plait is fine, we just have to see how he travels,’’ said Ferraris yesterday. “I don’t think he will have a problem with the distance. He is out of a Darshaan mare and they stay all day.”
They left for Durban this morning.
Seal is the unknown factor. He ran a shocker in the Durban July, trailing in at the back of the field. Trainer Gavin van Zyl has suggested punters should put a line through that run as he suffered interference early on and from that point, his race was over. The run was too bad to be true but Seal has had quite a lot of racing and it might be taking its toll.
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