A perfect preparation is just one of the vital ingredients required to win Africa’s prestigious ultimate test of stamina. Dean Kannemeyer looks to have set his Dynasty gelding Blake up for a massive assault on Saturday’s R1 million Gr1 Ladbrokes Gold Cup at Greyville.
The leading stable’s powerful supporting act of the Argentinian-bred In Writing looks to be Blake’s biggest threat over the testing 3,2 km trip.
The Gold Cup is not the kind of race to risk reputations on and sweeping categorical selections are probably inviting ridicule and failure. The possibility of an upset result is exacerbated by the numerous factors at play. All the chinks in the armour will be exposed. Genuine stamina, fitness, good health and luck in running around the arduous Greyville circuit, are but a few factors at play.
Kannemeyer has been there with Colonial Girl in 2000, and he could well be repeating the performance come Super Saturday.
Blake is surely the most genuine and consistent stayer in training in this country today. He is a horse who can be relied upon to always put his best foot forward. And therein lies the essential difference between him and his year older stablemate In Writing. The latter probably matches Blake on straight raw ability, but lacks the heart and character of the younger horse.
Blake’s connections are showing the benefits today of patience and careful programming. Resisting the temptation to take their chances in last year’s Gold Cup, they stayed at home and let their boy mature and grow. This season he has won four of his last six outings, including multiple Group victories,and he goes into Saturday’s feature off a perfect prep.
A winner of the Lonsdale Stirrup Cup after flying through to collar Sage Throne, he was finishing like an express train when narrowly held by Tribal Dance, who got first run on him in the Schweppes 2200. He has gone up in the handicap but is drawn 1 on Saturday and with regular pilot Karl Neisius aboard, he is going to be a difficult horse to beat.
His stablemate, the year older In Writing, has also come into his own this season after finishing seventh to Aslan in the 2011 Gold Cup. He won the Gr3 Chairman’s Cup over 3200m by an emphatic 6,25 lengths and ran a cracker when just being pipped in the Gold Vase at his last outing. Seal only got to him there as Jeff Lloyd and Thanks John had upped the pace going into the turn, and forced In Writing to use up unnecessary juice. In Writing is a powerful front-runner who will have the services of top international rider Felix Coetzee. He is 1 kg better off with Seal and could be very dangerous if out front when they turn for home.
The De Kock factor always needs to be considered and he could prove Kannemeyer’s undoing. His challenge is headed by the brilliant Montjeu staying mare Gorongosa. She has a terrific record of 9 wins from 13 starts and won the Gold Bowl over 3200m in sizzling style at Turffontein on Champions Day. She never showed when running no type of race in the July, and if that has not taken the wind out of her sails, she could bounce back to her winning ways here.
Anton Marcus sides with the 3 yo Argentinian import Vettel again after a sixth cheque in the July. The son of Know Heights ran a cracker when storming through 3,75 lengths behind Jackson in the Daily News but has a tough task as a younger horse here.
Ilsanpietro is a gallant staying type who tends to plod on at the business end of these races. He ran a fair fourth and just 1,50 lengths off Aslan last year and has continued to earn place money. His last start was a 3,75 lengths fourth to Seal in the Gold Vase, when given far too much to do. Big race jockey Kevin Shea jumps aboard on Saturday.
The last of the De Kock four is Captain’s Wild, who is drawn 18 and ran a fair fourth in the Schweppes 2200m. He is obviously a fair work horse as he often attracts betting support, but he should battle here.
The high-flying Sean Tarry outfit have a competitive coupling of the promising 4yo Kolkata and last year’s surprise winner Aslan.
As an improving sort Kolkata is preferred and will be looking to build on his second behind Aslan last year. He stays very well and ran a solid third in the Gold Vase when staying on well. He has had an exemplary prep and is perfectly suited to Piere Strydom. He is a kilo better of with seal on the Gold Vase run and could end a beautiful season for Tarry.
Aslan was a surprise inclusion in this race after fading badly in the Gold Vase. His trainer obviously expects him to be competitive, although it is worrying that he has not won since Gold Cup day last year.
Gavin Van Zyl’s Seal won the Gold Vase in sensational style at his last run, which ended a rather frustrating spell since winning the Wolf Power in February. He carries topweight from a 17 draw, but this has always been his long-term aim and he will be a big runner if he gets the 3200m.
The Jet Master gelding Soul Master ran a fair third in the Lonsdale Stirrup Cup, but then disappointed in the Schweppes 2200 last time. He tends toward inconsistency and while placed over 2850m previously, he could battle here. The second of the Woodruff runners is Princess Of Light.
Avontuur Stud would be partying for a month were Var’s daughter to come up trumps in this race. Bred by Carl De Vos out of a Foveros mare, Geoff Woodruff’s four year old is a six time winner from her 18 starts and is perpetual motion in action as she just goes on and on and is a very capable stayer. She won’t have it all her own way here and whether she will keep rolling down the Greyville straight is the big question. But she will come out fresh and fighting fit after her easy Pinnacle Stakes win over 2600m at Turffontein at end May.
Colin Scott’s has often flattered only to deceive and has won just four races. He has shown a genuine propensity for a test of stamina though and ran a very good second behind Blake in the Lonsdale Stirrup Cup. He is now a kilo better off with the Kannemeyer horse.
He is well drawn and may enjoy the strong handling of Sean Cormack, who rode a cracker in the Lonsdale.
Vaughan Marshall’s Top Seller ran a disappointing race in the July when finishing 8,25 lengths behind Pomodoro after showing a lot of toe out front. He jumps from a 16 draw and he is another who hasn’t enjoyed an ideal prep.
Mike Bass last tasted Gold Cup success in 2006 with the Saumarez gelding Diamond Quest, and the Cape family outfit send a four-way coupling to post.
On his 1,95 length fifth to Tribal Dance in the Schweppes 2200, Jeppe’s Reef is probably the best of the quartet. The son of Jallad comes in with a handy galloping weight of 52,5kgs and achieved a fair fifth and 3,25 lengths behind Aslan in the 2011 Gold Cup. He also ran a cracking eyecatching third and 1 length off Gold Onyx in the Listed Sledgehammer over a distance short of his ordinary best.
Thanks John is another Jallad, but is quite formless at the moment. He last won an MR 102 Handicap at Kenilworth over 1800m on Christmas Eve 2011. He ran a poor race in the Gold Vase.
The six year old entire Golden Parachute has never quite realised his potential and has not had an ideal prep for this race with a poor showing in both the PE Gold Cup and the Gold Vase.
Aldo Domeyer rides the fourth Bass runner, the Western Winter mare Croc Valley. This six-time winner has never been tried this far, and it could well be a shrewd attempt to enhance her black-type and paddock value. She is, after all, in good form and ran a fair second to Feel My Love in the Listed Queen Palm. Although it must be said that Feel My Love did not confirm that with a poor effort in Sunday’s Off To Stud Handicap.
Corne Spies’ coupling of PE Gold Cup winner Campo De Santana and the Brazillian filly Heyouneverknow both stay well enough, but should be outclassed against the better entrants. Neither was disgraced when finishing right behind Seal and just out of the quartet in the Gold Vase, and could realistically run a place if getting lucky in a hard-run race.
Finishing directly behind the Spies pair there was Sun City, who has moved stables from Riaan Van Reenen in Phillipi to Corinne Bestel in KZN, and jumps from the worst of the draw. The 7yo Kahal gelding would prefer some give in the ground, and should struggle here. Although he comes out of a yard who deserve a change of luck and know how to get horses ready to win.
As always, the Super Saturday highlight should provide a spectacle no matter what glasses the watcher may be wearing. We expect Princess Of Light and In Writing to set the fractions up front. But the race will be won in the final 250m with the likes of Blake, Gorongosa and Kolkata flying late.
It could come down to who gets a clear run at the right time. Blake is our selection to win it. Don’t ignore In Writing and the Tarry –Strydom flagbearer Kolkata should also be right there.
Princess Of Light and Gorongosa could carry the fairer sex flag for place money.