Together the Gr2 Gauteng Guineas, the Gr1 SA Classic and the Gr1 SA Derby form South Africa’s Triple Crown and with all three legs taking place within a nine week period, it takes an exceptional horse to win it. Indeed, since its inception in 1999 only the legendary Horse Chestnut has been able to achieve the feat. Sixteen take the stage for the Guineas on Saturday and the winner will earn a R2M bonus if also successful in the other two legs, writes Steve Furnish.
Globetrotter Mike De Kock won this race with Link Man last season and with a minimum of four runners this time around he once again holds a very strong hand.
Heading Mike’s charge on paper is the highest rated runner in the field Silver Flyer. Not the easiest of characters to work with, this son of Silvano has shown flashes of real ability, most notably when winning the Gr2 Dingaans over today’s course and distance in his penultimate start. Silver Flyer ran on best of all in that event and as well as having the next four highest rated horses here behind him, he had another five of today’s opponents in arrears. The same tactics were adopted when he finished runner up in his only subsequent outing to Variety Club in the much debated Gr1 Cape Guineas in December. Silver Flyer finished at least as well as the winner that day, but was unable to cut into his three lengths advantage over the final 400m. Silver Flyer was clearly suited by the long galloping straight at Turffontein when winning the Dingaans and he gave the impression that day that there was more to come. The one to beat.
The next highest rated of Mike’s big five is the unbeaten Red Barrel. This lightly raced son of Right Approach has won both starts going away and having landed the prestigious Ready To Run Cup he has already amassed stake earnings of over R1M. He is undoubtedly taking on stronger here, but he does retain the services of champion jockey Anton Marcus and is sure to appreciate the extra. Red Barrel has drawn very wide here, but he could yet prove to be anything. Watch the betting.
This son of Chateau Istana impressed when running on stoutly to finish second on debut and duly followed up over 1400m here next time out. He’s found the going a bit tough since being stepped up in class though, and he was beaten fair and square by four of today’s runners in the Dingaans in his penultimate outing. He was reported as making a respiratory noise when well beaten by the highly regarded Glorious Jet last time out and although he could still improve plenty, he is perhaps best just watched here.
The Strike Smartly colt Governor General showed real guts and determination to shed his maiden tag over 1400m in soft after his rider had dropped the whip in December, but even so, one would not have thought that this race was on his schedule. He’s shown considerable improvement since then though and was running on stoutly when only beaten two and a quarter lengths by the Dingaan’s fourth placed runner Pomodoro in the Gr3 Tony Ruffel Stakes over 1450m at the inner track last time out. He cruised in by six in his only previous try over today’s distance in soft going in his penultimate start and with there being a fair chance that the going could turn up soft here, he could make the frame.
The second reserve runner Frontino Gold has always been well thought of by the stable and that would suggest that we haven’t seen the best of him yet. He had been drawn very wide when running on stoutly to take fourth behind his stable companion Red Barrel in the Ready To Run Cup in his penultimate start and he did have excuses when unsighted in the Dingaans, as he was reported as coughing. If getting a run this will be his first outing since the Dingaans, it will be interesting to see how he goes.
Michael Azzie has always had a very high regard for his 3yo son of Singspiel Potala Palace and having trained some top class horses in his time one has to take note. He cruised in by six when shedding his maiden tag at just the second attempt and when winning the Gr1 Premiers Champion Stakes over a mile at Greyville in his next outing, it did indeed look as if he might go on to be a champion. What is interesting here is that the fifth placed runner in the Premiers was the subsequent Dingaans winner and probable favourite here Silver Flyer, and the third horse home in that event was the recent Queen’s Plate winner Gimmethegreenlight. On his return from a four month break in November, Potala Palace could be forgiven for only scraping home when thrown in at the weights in a graduation event, but he has since been beaten fair and square in all three starts (including the Dingaans) and he is drawn widest of all here.
The highest rated of Sean Tarry’s four definite runners in the race is Whiteline Fever. This son of Right Approach progressed rapidly after shedding his maiden tag over today’s distance in soft in October and showed his class when running on stoutly from towards the rear to take second in the Dingaans. As expected he won well when thrown in at the weights in a novice event on his return from a short break at the end of last month and having only been beaten 2,5 lengths in the Dingaans, any amount of further improvement has to make him a very serious runner here.
A winner of four of his six outings to date, trainer Sean Tarry has always had a high regard for Pomodoro and was surprised when Robbie Fradd elected to ride his Whiteline Fever in the Dingaans. On the day Robbie chose right, but Pomodoro was only two lengths behind his stable companion and he has since won well in both starts. Pomodoro has shown good improvement with each outing in our book. Expect a bold effort.
Prior to finishing eighth of twelve in the Gr3 Tony Ruffel Stakes, the Jet Master colt E-Jet had also been showing good improvement with each outing. No excuses were tendered for that latest run, but E-Jet was returning from a near three month break in that event. He had previously won well after finishing a 2,6 lengths fifth to his stable companion Pomodoro in the Guineas Trial at Clairwood in October and it could well be that further improvement will be forthcoming.
The 3yo Silvano colt won well when shedding his maiden tag over 1400m here in November, but it was still a surprise to see him contest the Gr1 Cape Guineas in his next outing. Heavy Metal was unsighted in that event, but he did have excuses as he was hampered when running on 200m out. He again had excuses last time out when 3,75 lengths off his stable companion Pomodoro in the Gr3 Tony Ruffel Stakes as he took a bump and was later reported lame on the off fore. Sean wouldn’t have taken Heavy Metal to Cape Town for a breath of sea air! Expect improvement.
Other than when making all to shed his maiden tag over 1200m back in July, the first reserve runner Baracah has failed to win in eight starts. He trailed in a distance behind the remainder after setting the early pace in the Sea Cottage Stakes last time out and is clearly best just watched for now.
After running on stoutly to finish third on debut, the Windrush colt Straw Market won all three starts last season. He placed in both the Gr3 Graham Beck Stakes and Gr2 Dingaans in his first two outings this season and was clearly having a warm up for this event when down field behind his stable companion Snowdon over 1400m after a three month break last time out. Ormond Ferraris’ charge was beaten fair and square by Silver Flyer in the Dingaans, but he has drawn well here and should be thereabouts again if at his best.
The highest rated of three runners from the stable of Gavin Van Zyl, Slumdogmillionaire has done absolutely nothing wrong. Indeed, he’s won both starts in eye catching fashion and is clearly the dark horse of the race. He cruised in by almost six when winning the listed Sea Cottage Stakes over 1800m on the inner track last time out and although the opposition there was considerably weaker than he faces here, he could do no more than win as impressively as he did.
The Strike Smartly gelding Brooks-Club has also always been well thought of by the Gavin Van Zyl stable and he too has shown flashes of real ability. He was a little disappointing when slow into stride in the Tony Ruffel Stakes last time out, but he was fairly flying in his penultimate outing and he did also finish well when third in the Graham Beck Stakes three runs back. Usually one to run on stoutly from off the pace, Brooks-Club will appreciate being back on the stand side track here and having only finished a length and a quarter behind Whiteline Fever in the Graham Beck, he must hold some kind of a chance.
Along with Beacon Flare, the busiest of today’s runners has been Tandragee. He’s only missed the frame twice in eleven starts and is as consistent as they come. He was well beaten in the Dingaans though and having also been comfortably beaten after holding every chance behind Pomodoro last time out, he does look well held.
After shedding his maiden tag at the fifth attempt last season, Beacon Flare then ran the race of his life in the Gr1 Premier’s Champion Stakes over today’s distance at Greyville in July. As with the winner Potala Palace though, he has battled to make his presence felt other than when winning a graduation plate where he was very well weighted.
As with Tandragee, the Lundy’s Liability colt Zambucca has proven to be very consistent. Indeed, he’s only failed to fill a place in the quartet once in eight starts. He couldn’t go with Slumdogmillionaire when that one cruised in last time out though and having previously been beaten by Straw Market, he clearly faces a very stiff task here.
At first glance, Joey Soma’s charge was a little disappointing last time out, but then he was cut into and reported as making a respiratory noise. He had previously won two of his last three starts and in the middle of those had been finishing best of all when two lengths behind Potala Palace in a graduation event. Wagner is now considerably up in class, but he could still improve plenty if all is now well.
About The Pace
Although there are no out and out frontrunners in the field, there is enough speed amongst the three very powerful couplings to ensure at least a decent pace. Whiteline Fever is undoubtedly a very serious runner here and the two unbeaten runners Red Barrel and Slumdogmillionaire could yet prove to be anything. Silver Flyer has already proven his ability though when beating most of these in the Dingaans and on that it is he who gets the vote.