Opposing the might of Mike De Kock is a brave move at any racecourse on earth. But such is the brilliance of Glen Kotzen’s champion filly Princess Victoria, that we are confidently siding with the Cape outfit to win the Gr1 R500 000 Gr1 SA Fillies Sprint over 1200m at Scottsville on Saturday.
The talented UK-bred Welwitschia emerged from the shadows on the De Kock-Wilgerbos-drift Champions Day extravaganza at Turffontein at the end of April, when she won the Gr2 Camelia Stakes in scintillating style. The daughter of Oasis Dream made up lengths in the final 400m of the 1160m race and streaked clear to win by 3,25 lengths.
That was really very impressive. But a champion? We will reserve judgement on that. Granted, Welwitschia had the likes of the Zimbabwe champion Control Freak, Torra Bay, Jackodore and Give Me Five, all well and truly beaten at her second career Group win. She also has to give the younger Princess Victoria 1,5kgs on Saturday, and Princess Victoria really just looks in a different league to everything else around her at this stage. The three year old also has the record to prove it.
The daughter of Victory Moon has that x-factor star quality, we rarely see. And Maine Chance Farms can sure breed them. Andreas Jacobs’ Robertson stud farm produced last Sunday’s Gr1 Krisflyer International Sprint winner Ato, and will be looking to record yet another Gr1 success here.
A winner of seven of her nine starts, including a Gr1 treble, this royal ball of fire has only ever been beaten by inexperience on debut and then eleven months later in the Cape Guineas. That afternoon she was 4,25 lengths behind a colt called Variety Club. We may not have understood the impact of that run then. But look at the Ramsden miler’s record since then. Enough said!
Andrew Fortune is the original jockey to have boomed Princess Victoria up and the quietly spoken, by comparison, Sean Cormack has won three of her last four starts on her. He knows her well enough and will give her every chance from her 11 draw on Saturday.
Speaking from Summerveld earlier this week, an upbeat trainer Glen Kotzen said that he was very pleased with the way his champion filly had come on since arriving in KZN in February: “ Top-class horses obviously come with their pressure, but the really good ones somehow just do all the right things. Princess Victoria is one of those dream fillies. Her prep has been spot-on and Saturday’s race is one of her main Champions Season targets before the Garden Province Stakes. She is flying at home and I will be taking things quite easy this week and giving her a sprint-up on Thursday. Anybody who has been in racing longer than an hour will know that we don’t take anything for granted when it comes to Group 1 races. I have every respect for every one of the other runners. They have earned their right to take their place in this prestigious race. But I know Princess Victoria is world-class and the best horse in the race and I expect her to acquit herself accordingly.”
That is fighting talk.
Father and Son
Justin Snaith launches a three pronged attack and has learnt the tricks of this very tricky trade from his vastly experienced Dad Chris. The young man would no doubt have taken all the fatherly advice he could glean in the big race build-up.
Chris trained four Sabine Plattner winners in the halcyon brink of the century years between 1998 to 2002. The once-in-a-lifetime likes of the Australian –breds Joie De Grise and Laisserfaire, who were the last two ladies to register SA Fillies Sprint doubles, were superstars and Justin has something very close in the Jet Master four year old, Ebony Flyer.
The Gr1 Majorca Stakes winner has been plagued by wind problems and an operation appeared to have had the desired effect. The medical issue seemed remedied after her smooth win on J&B Met day, but she has her first run here after a four month break. Her fitness thus needs to be taken on trust and she may be run off her feet by fitter accomplished sprinters like Princess Victoria and Welwitschia.
Snaith also sends State Blue and Comtesse Dubois to post. The former ran a cracker in the Poinsettia Stakes when finishing 4,10 lengths off Princess Victoria in her first run since relocating from the Eastern Cape. She is a gallant hard-knocker but seems in her place against the younger generation.
Comtesse Dubois is a talented three year old who has won four from ten starts but ran a shocker when finishing 19,5 lengths off Princess Victoria in the 2011 Allan Robertson Fillies Championship in her only Scottsville appearance to date. She appears better over 1000m and looks to have a tough task.
Dennis Drier’s Australian-bred Torra Bay is an interesting runner. She did not have the best of fortune when travelling up to Turffontein for the Camelia Stakes and after being cut into and hampered, finished 7,75 lengths behind Welwitschia. The daughter of Cape Cross had won four of her five starts up to that point and it takes a special horse in anybody’s language to achieve that.
Private politics dictates that the vastly experienced Kevin Shea steps into her regular pilot Alec Forbes’ seat and if fully recovered from her Johannesburg ordeal a month ago, she could be a dark horse worth including in the trifectas and quartets.
Sean Tarry has a fine record in this race, having won it three times in the past six years with the brilliant grey National Colour (2006), Ethereal Lady(2007) and Captain’s Gal(2010). He sends out the very capable coupling of Give Me Five and the speedy Jackodore, who gets the services of Anton Marcus, who interestingly sticks with her after a disappointing last try.
Neither of these two impressed in their most recent outing in the Camelia Stakes on Champions Day. Give Me Five is rising six and actually achieved her last win in the Gr2 Camelia Stakes a year ago when beating Carey’s Qui by 2,25 lengths in very soft going. Jackdore has age on her side and shows a lot of speed. She finished 4,35 lengths behind Welwitschia in the Camelia and it is difficult seeing her reversing it here over 40m further.
The likes of Chocolicious, Wishful Eye and She’s A Stunner could have a say in quartet money if things go their way. But for us it is not a complicated affair and a straight line exacta is forecast. The brilliant Princess Victoria is the new generation successor to many great horses to campaign in the famed red,white and black Jaffee silks. She’ll win it from a flying Welwitschia. Anything for the places thereafter.