Sprinting may not occupy the same level of passion as that lavished on other disciplines within the sport of kings, but the fast set get their centre-stage under lights at Greyville on Friday evening. The R300 000 Gr2 Post Merchants has attracted a quick line-up that includes last year’s impressive winner, Splash Gold.
Cape trainer Dean Kannemeyer bids for the Post Merchants double and sends out a three-way coupling which includes the 2011 winner, as well as The Shark and the smart three year old Depardieu. This son of Dupont won the Byerley Turk on his KZN debut in mid-April but has bankrupted his supporters since with unplaced, but admittedly not disgraced, efforts in the Drill Hall Stakes and the Golden Horse Casino Sprint.
The very capable Goldkeeper chestnut Splash Gold is one of those classic victims of that sometimes bizarre finger of fate, otherwise labelled the handicapper’s hand of god. Well known to owners and trainers, this is the trainstopper that reaches out and stops good horses in their tracks just when they look to be going somewhere. After winning this race in 2011 Splash Gold was lumbered with a 113 merit rating and that had the effect of serious limiting his racing and earning opportunities in the ensuing year. He has dropped to a more realistic 106 these days.
He did show up nicely in his last start at Greyville over 1400m when moving forward smoothly and only stopping late to be run out of it 1,50 lengths by Lake Arthur, who ran a cracker in last Saturday’s Cup Trial. Kevin Shea rides Splash Gold for the first time on Friday evening and he may be ready for a peak run after his disappointing effort in the Drill Hall Stakes. There is no question that he is an out and out sprinter.
Depardieu comes in on joint topweight of 60kgs and has a task made tougher by his 12 draw. Karl Neisius, who would have had a choice of the Kannemeyer trio, stays with him and this induces some confidence. After a close-up fifth place behind Tales Of Bravery in the Drill Hall Stakes when looking dangerous, he plodded in the Golden Horse Casino Sprint when running 3,30 lengths behind Delago Deluxe. Depardieu just seems better than his last two efforts and he may warrant a final chance to prove his bona fides.
His stable companion The Shark has the beating of both Splash Gold and him on their Drill Hall Stakes effort. The Zimbabwe bred enjoys a weight turnaround of 5kgs with Depardieu for a 0,40 length beating in the Drill Hall and also beat him narrowly in the Golden Horse Casino Sprint. The Shark gets 3kgs from Splash Gold after beating him by 4,60 lengths at level weights in the Drill Hall Stakes. He also had excuses in the Golden Horse Casino Sprint when being baulked ata crucial stage and then running only 3,05 lengths behind Delago Deluxe. We have never viewed The Shark as genuine Group winning material, but he and new pilot Felix Coetzee could prove us wrong.
Parade The Shades
Few of the runners emerged with much credit out of the Golden Horse Casino Sprint, but Joey Ramsden would have been smiling after Shades Of Indigo and Copper Parade had run third and fourth respectively and both go into this race fit and very well. Copper Parade as the younger and better drawn of the coupling is preferred.
He is a four-time winner who has not won since Dad fell off the Myciti bus, but his last few runs have shown more than a glimmer of well-being. Blinkers may have added value last time and he wears them again. He is a dangerous contender here under Sean Cormack.
The six year old Shades Of Indigo is a pleasure of a horse to own for British owners Gisela Burg and Martin Wickens. He has won seven in all and showed his mettle when bursting through late to win the Gr2 Cape Merchants in November. Interesting to note that while the going was officially classed as ‘very soft’, he had all of Delago Deluxe, Captain’s Secret,The Shark, Splash Gold and Sports Coach, well beaten that Cape summer afternoon!
Shades Of Indigo jumps from a 14 draw, but his late dash style could partly negate that drawback. Don’t leave him out of the quartets.
The very promising Charles Laird-trained four year old Sports Coach has drawn pole position and is long overdue to recapture his earlier form after winning his last two starts. Some may have forgotten that he won his debut by almost ten lengths and then went straight in the Gr1 Gold Medallion where he was narrowly downed by the then right-as-rain Link Man.
Sports Coach’ feature season campaign in the Cape at the end of last year was a dismal flop, but back with his original boss, he appears to be a happier boy and needs to be considered.
Mike Bass’ Captain’s Secret is not the same horse that won the Gr3 Cape Classic as a three year old. The frustration that his connections have endured is highlighted by the fact that he has shown his flashes of top ability and then also run a few really bad races. He also went straight from the Cape Flying Championship run over 1000m straight into the Cape Derby, and failed in both. He has not won a race since October 2010, and is generally an average of four lengths off anything of consequence. He would be a surprise winner here.
Rebel Knight ran a cracking second in this race last year when flying up to be beaten 1,25 lengths at level weights with Splash Gold. The former Capetonian hasn’t won in over a year and ran poorly when finishing tenth behind Delago Deluxe in the Golden Horse Casino Sprint. Robbie Fradd doesn’t have too many options from the worst draw on Friday evening either and he would be a surprise winner.
Maliyakhe is rising seven years of age, but this Muhtafal gelding is a tough campaigner who has shown himself to be above average when winning his eight races from twenty-nine starts. He won a top-class race at his penultimate start, when accounting for both The Shark and subsequent Golden Horse Casino Sprint winner Delago Deluxe over 1200m at Clairwood.
Granted Delago Deluxe did bungle the start on that occasion , but it was a gutsy win and he runs for young apprentice Donovan Dillon who takes 2,5kgs off his load. Maliyakhe has a powerful finish and will be given a chance from his 10 draw. Include him in quartets.
Duncan Howells sends out the speedy Bezrin gelding Tetelestai who can be regarded as something of a minimum chop specialist having won all eight of his races over the 1000m. He is very fast but is drawn 13 and is not the kind of horse that can be tucked in, particularly in a race of this nature.
Summerveld-based Michael Roberts trains the very consistent Tamburlaine gelding Mike’s Choice, who may just be short of a few lengths against these. He ran a fair fifth in the Gr2 Joburg Merchants when finishing 2,75 lengths behind the then fit and well Antious.He has earned in all three of his starts in 2012 and will not lack match fitness.
In a race of this nature, there are not many horses that can be discarded outright, although it is difficult to envisage the likes of Bielorusso, Monsieur Dupont and Sky Marshal challenging for major honours.
Kom Naidoo’s Bielorruso is a powerful galloping 1400m specialist whose last run can be ignored entirely as his saddle slipped and he pulled Nicky Roebuck’s arms out of his sleeves. He has the pace to get to the front in this race, but whether he can match the better genuine sprinters is another game entirely.
The second of the Mike Bass runners, Monsieur Dupont, has a poor draw at 11 but ran on smartly at his first KZN run when charging through to run Sports Coach to a length, when giving him 2,5kgs over 1200m at Clairwood. Sports Coach now receives only 1,5kgs but is drawn against the paint, which fact will make Monsieur Dupont’s task much more difficult.
Sky Marshal is a two-time winning gelded son of Jet Master who started his career with Mike De Kock in the blue and white Sheikh Hamdan silks. He has changed ownership and stables and now campaigns out of Alastair Gordon’s Summerveld yard. He appears to have his soundness problems and while he carries a handy galloping weight, his recent form does not inspire the confidence required to win this.
Punters may find themselves in the dark in more ways than one in trying to find a winner on Friday evening. The early money has come for Splash Gold and he could make it a rare double. But Depardieu, Copper Parade and Sports Coach will be there to try and spoil the party for Raymond Deacon and his partners.
Any one of these four for us, and then include longshot Maliyakhe for that one-ticket Pick Six.