The curtain comes down on the 2011/12 season with the running of the Gr3 Final Fling Stakes on Tuesday. The Kenilworth fillies and mares 1800m feature is a minefield and could have punters and bookmakers scratching their heads. An upset result may well be on the cards.
This race was a casualty of the abandoned meeting of Saturday 21 July, and was apparently originally scheduled for this past Saturday. But jockey commitments to the Super Saturday meeting at Greyville led to a sensible reconsideration, and it brightens the midweek fare considerably.
While the R138 000 gross stake is not going to attract the best of the female talent around, this little Gr3 feature certainly raises the bar a few notches in a province in the grip of a winter cold spell and floundering in a trough on its annual racing calendar.
And the connections brave enough to take on the elements will know that a Gr3 win is also a welcome commercial black-type booster for any future sales catalogue page.
Phillipi trainer Riaan Van Reenen, who is not represented this time, won this race for the past two years with the very capable Windrush mare, A Daughters Legacy. The 2011 Final Fling Stakes was her swansong before retiring for maternal duties in the beautiful Avontuur paddocks. There are a few ladies here who may also be nearing the end of their racing careers.
Glen Kotzen sends out a quartet, headed by the ill-fated legend Big City Life’s full sister, Cash Register, who appears to be maturing well and fulfilling her early promise. She has won her last two, and her win in the Listed Ladies Mile was impressive indeed.
That race was run in very soft going, but Grant Van Niekerk, who has built up something of an affinity with her, rode her with confidence to win going away by 1,25 lengths. She has gone up 4kgs in the weights on that run, and the collateral form with six of her opponents on Tuesday may hold the key – even if this event is over 200m further.
Closest to her in the Ladies Mile was Andries Steyn’s gallant hard-knocking seven year old Mystery Dame, who was beaten 2,75 lengths and is now 2kgs better off with Cash Register. Mystery Dame jumps from the best of the draw and after 57 runs, she will probably be driving the float to the races. With the equally experienced Fareed Anthony in the saddle, she is a quartet inclusion.
Next best were Yogas Govender’s coupling of Rosie Tibb and Approach Me who both contested the Ladies Mile with limited success and look quite pressed to make the frame in this field. They meet Cash Register on the same weight terms for hammerings of 5,85 and 8,60 lengths respectively.
That said, Approach Me did run a fair second in an MR 82 Handicap over 2000m at the beginning of May to the subsequent multiple feature winner Feel My Love. She may be a better proposition over this trip.
Then Cash Register’s chestnut stablemate Platinum Cat is 4kgs better off here for a 9,10 length beating in the Ladies Mile. This white-socked daughter of Tiger Ridge is drawn right next door and has a good turn of foot that may see her running on when a few are stopping. She is not a slouch when things go her way.
An interesting runner at double figure odds is Piet Steyn’s Daylami filly Super Elegant, the ride of champion jockey Anton Marcus on this final local raceday of the current season.
Marcus and Steyn flopped last Wednesday at the same venue with a fancied double, but this race could see them forget that afternoon very quickly.
Super Elegant finished 9,50 lengths behind Cash Register in the Ladies Mile but is also 4kgs better off here. She has lost her form since winning the Victress Stakes in mid-December, when she beat subsequent Greyville 1900 winner Beach Beauty. That is no mean feat, even in receipt of 9kgs, and in her favour is the fact that she has drawn nicely at 3. She is a talented sort who ran fourth over this course and distance in the Paddock Stakes. She may well be crying out for this trip as she gets older and we must bear in mind that she ran off a career highest merit rating of 104 in January 2012. Against her is the fact that she may need the going on top, which is not going to happen, to show her best. But include her in all calculations.
The last of the six Ladies Mile collaterals is the Mike Bass trained Margaret Court who is 4kgs better off with Cash Register for a 10,75 length beating. The daughter of Lake Coniston has never won beyond the mile and her best form is around 1400m -1600m.
Glen Kotzen’s remaining two fillies are both poorly drawn, but the three year old Golden Dawn may be the better. This daughter of Goldmark is held in high esteem by her trainer and confirmed that when winning the Sweet Chestnut Stakes going away in April. Her subsequent two starts at feature level over a mile and 2200m, have been somewhat below that. She finished 3,25 lengths behind Rush For John in the Winter Oaks, and meets the Snaith runner at the same weight terms here. Veteran Capetonian Gerrit Schlechter returns from the East to partner her.
Surf ‘n Turf
It is pleasing to welcome jockey Brandon Morgenrood back to bolster the local riding ranks after a stint in Mauritius, and he partners Kotzen’s Mary Hinge. The daughter of Second Empire has not drawn well but has won 4 of 17 starts and is capable on her day. She has returned from a quiet stint in Durban and strangely refused to jump at her last outing in the East Coast Handicap at Clairwood. If not repeating this quirk and assuming she is match fit after the two months break, she could run a place under Morgenrood’s strong handling.
Justin Snaith always has a horde of good fillies to choose from, and his three year old coupling of Rush For John and Alvilda must be considered. There is really little to choose between them, although Alvilda has won 3 races in the easier Eastern Cape school, as opposed to Rush For John’s 2 in the Western Cape.
Of the two, Rush For John is preferred on the afternoon, as the better drawn filly.
She has won 2 from 12 and was a very impressive winner of the Winter Oaks last time, when bouncing clear to beat Alvilda by 1,25 lengths. That was sweet revenge for Alvilda beating her in the East Cape Oaks at the beginning of June by 0,25 lengths. Top jockey Felix Coetzee rides Alvilda and their private race-within-a-race duel should be an interesting one for the very competitive Snaith team.
Brett Crawford and jockey Karis Teetan team up with the consistent five year old Kabool mare Respectable Lady, who has proven a revelation with the blinkers fitted at her last two starts. She won going away over Saturday’s course and distance in an MR75 Handicap at her last outing and at her penultimate start went a 1,30 length third to the very capable Cavalli. That run amongst some fair males puts her in with a very big shout here, and she is fairly well drawn at 7.
The second of the Mike Bass runners is the course and distance winner Susanna, who is very consistent. It is of some concern that Karl Neisius rather opts to ride Golden Dawn for Glen Kotzen, but Susanna has won 5 from 17 and looks deserving of a Gr3 win before she gets considered for stud duties.
Neil Bruss saddles the seven-time winning Smarty Jones mare Gracie Jones who has campaigned in Zimbabwe for Lisa Harris with limited success of late. She is drawn in the dugouts of Youngsfield Military Base and may also need the outing.
Stan Elley’s Victory Moon filly Moon By Night is another who has drawn on the highway to Muizenberg and while she ran a fair 1,95 length fourth behind Rush For John in the Winter Oaks, she should find this tough. But the danger is that we may yet to have seen the best she has to offer.
Takeyouroath is a lightly raced daughter of Mellifont who has drawn at 11 and looks a little outclassed here.
Middle of the road fillies and mares affairs are always interesting posers and this one fits the bill perfectly. With the going very possibly on the sticky side and draws playing havoc, it may pay to build calculated wagers around the likes of the older campaigners like Respectable Lady and Mystery Dame.
Glen Kotzen’s duo of Cash Register and Golden Dawn also come into the reckoning, while Justin Snaith has a strong hand
with the staying coupling of Rush For John and Alvilda.
Then there is the constant niggle around Piet Steyn’s Daylami three year old Super Elegant who has a win over Beach Beauty on her cv. She only needs to return to her best under Anton Marcus to win this and at double figure odds, that prospect may appeal to many punters.
We are siding marginally with Super Elegant to beat Cash Register , with the Snaith fillies and Respectable Lady snapping at their heels. If the budget permits, we would suggest punters go wide.