There will be sighs of relief in some quarters as Cape racing returns to Kenilworth on Saturday. Only eight stayers go to post for the R125 000 Listed Woolavington H’cap over 2400m, which heads an attractive ten race programme.
Trainer Dean Kannemeyer looks to have an excellent opportunity of adding to his enviably impressive record in the 21st century of five Woolavington winners when he sends out a powerful coupling.
It is rather a pleasure to focus less on barrier draws and potential luck in running, and more on the form and relative ability of the competitors at Kenilworth. With a small field in this feature, the pace could be our only concern when it comes to the unknown. But even then we have two contestants in Hospitality and top-weight In Writing who will be willing to go out and ensure that the rest are kept honest.
It is a case of horses for courses and Dean Kannemeyer has guided the careers of some top stayers over the years.
The likes of Jackson Square, Northern Dignity(twice), Ivy Green and last year the top-class Blake, are all previous winners of this Woolavington stepping –stone to better things. The proven recipe of gradual development – that means patient owners and a well though plan – works a charm with these longhaulers.
Kannemeyer has two quite diverse but very capable sorts in the promising 4yo Taipan and the sensational 2012 Ladbroke’s Gold Cup winner, 7yo In Writing.
Taipan bids to make it a double for his sensational sire Dynasty, who produced last year’s victor, Blake.
The promising colt has only had ten runs for 3 wins and looked headed for a big summer season when winning his third race at Kenilworth in an MR 90 Handicap over 1800m at end November last year.
It was a particularly impressive win against his elders but the then 3yo only resurfaced in KZN 6 months later. His connections may have harboured aspirations of a crack at the 2012 Vodacom Durban July but after the long break, Kannemeyer was always on the backfoot and he knows the folly of pushing a too valuable horse at that point.
Taipan landed up earning four place cheques in Durban, including a solid fourth in the Gold Circle Derby and a good second in the Listed Darley Arabian behind Heavy Metal. He was then given 14 weeks off and made his seasonal debut in the Matchem a fortnight ago. That produced an eyecatching effort!
Run off his feet in the 1400m race, Taipan hit slow traffic in the straight and only got going when Changingoftheguard and the champion King Of Pain had flown the nest. He ran a cracking fourth and just 3,15 lengths off the winner, despite the obstacles.
That was a sign of good health and if the second run after a rest hoodoo doesn’t trip him up on Saturday, he will be expected to go very close.
That said,it is interesting to note that he goes straight from a 1400m into a 2400m race. His shrewd conditioner always said he’d be a better horse at 4, so no doubt believes that he is up to the test.
Taipan’s stablemate is no slouch either.
The Argentinian-bred son of Editor’s Note, In Writing, has come into his own as a stayer of some top ability and the removal of the blinkers and a change in riding tactics have seen the Fieldspring Racing-owned gelding add considerably to his career winning tally over the past twelve months.
This culminated in a superb end-to-end win under Felix Coetzee in the Gr1 Ladbrokes Gold Cup on Super Saturday at the end of last season, when he accounted for our best stayers under 57,5kgs. That was no bolt from the blue either, as In Writing had gone down a narrow loser to Seal in the Gold Vase three weeks earlier.
He is undoubtedly the proven class in the race and would have been considered our top choice, but for the nagging doubt over his fitness after a break of three months. This will probably be the first phase of his medium term plans for an assault on races such as the Durbanville Cup, the Cape Summer Stayers and the J&B Reserve Stayers on Met day.
While the Gold Cup win was impressive, there are many who witnessed In Writing’s brilliant win under MJ Odendaal by 6,25 lengths in the Chairmans in February, that will reckon that he could do the same here.
The lightly weighted Putney Flyer is a kilo better off with Jeppe’s Reef for a 1,25 length beating in the Settlers Trophy. Darryl Hodgson’s Miesque’s Approval gelding is only a two-time winner and some way off the achievement level of a few of the better ones here, but has been consistently placed since shedding his maiden seven months ago.
He always runs on and looks capable of surprising.
Paddy Kruyer’s Silvano gelding Gianduja scored probably his best ever win over 2400m (granted, at Durbanville) and comes in on the 52kg mark – which puts him under sufferance with some of his opponents.
He plodded into third position in the Settlers Trophy 2,50 lengths off Jeppe’s Reef when receiving 2kgs from the Bass horse. He now gets a further 1,5kgs in his favour which will help the cause and he is likely to strip fit after those two outings in September.
Gianduja won’t be stopping in the final 200m and has an undeniable chance for the place money.
Felix Coetzee, who rode such a brilliant race to win the Gold Cup on In Writing opts to maintain his allegiances with the Snaith yard rather and rides the Winter Classic winner, Why Worry. It is possible that Felix didn’t even have the choice, so let’s not read too much into it.
The son of Casey Tibbs, who is yet to win over the 2400m trip, is no star but always tends to run on well and his winning turn cannot be far off. He ran on steadily last time out to finish a 3,25 lengths fourth in the Settlers Trophy behind Jeppe’s Reef.
With a two kg turnaround in the weights in his favour and the benefit of the kinder Kenilworth track, Why Worry could well turn the tables. He will also enjoy a truer pace than that experienced at his last Durbanville start – and is likely to get it here.
Murder He Rode
The Settlers Trophy winner Jeppe’s Reef got away with murder being allowed to dictate the pace in that Durbanville staying feature under a particularly enterprising ride by MJ Byleveld.
Even if we regard the Settlers Trophy as something of a burgled prize, it is patently clear that Jeppe’s Reef has been gradually edging his way back to fitness and his penultimate run was a fair effort over a far too-short 1400m. He charged through from miles off to grab fourth only 3,90 lengths off the capable Lake Arthur. That was a smart effort indeed.
He is 2kgs better off with In Writing for a 3,10 length deficit in the Gold Cup, so may be able to give some cheek – although this will be a tougher test than the Settlers Trophy.
The 2012 Gr3 Winter Derby winner Punta Arenas is a difficult fellow to assess.
Stan Elley’s lightly raced son of Silvano has only had two runs in the four months since that career peak win.
Both runs were over distances short of his best and neither were embarrassing. He finished 6,60 lengths behind Lake Arthur in a 1400m Allowance Plate (the same race in which Jeppe’s Reef ran fourth) and then ran 3,40 lengths behind Hill Fifty Four in a mile MR 94 Handicap.
Punta Arenas is a different proposition over ground though and is a 4yo with good scope. He certainly has the blood flowing through his veins too! His dam is a half- sister to the top-class Paraca and he could yet go on to fulfil some of the expectation of his R525 000 National Yearling Sale price tag.
Mike Stewart’s loyal old soldier Hospitality is a perpetual motion Pied Piper of sorts that only really knows one tactical position to race. That is usually at the head of affairs, and the bold free-striding approach has worked wonders if one considers his excellent record of 8 wins from his 36 starts for earnings of a few cents short of R700 000.
He ran a good second lumping 59,5kgs behind Blake in this race last year, before going on to clinch the Durbanville Cup.
Hospitality could probably run this race blindfolded. He ran third in 2009, won it in 2010 and then ran second last year. So he has the proven credentials.
He faded rather dismally though when finishing close on 16 lengths behind Blake in the J&B Reserve Stayers on Met day,and has been rested for nine months. That probably indicates that Hospitality may need the run after those lazy hazy days on the beautiful white sands of Noordhoek beach.
It’s back to Kenilworth, the draw matters little and we appear assured of a good pace. Such pleasant thoughts!
We have an intriguing mini staying contest on our hands and with the class and ability in Dean Kannemeyer’s hands, we have little doubt that the classic trainer would have hatched a master plan to secure victory.
Running as he is off an excellent pipe-opener, and assuming Taipan is half as good as the dogs barked he was last season, then he should be strong enough to win the Woolavington.
In Writing will be staying on, while the lightly weighted Putney Flyer and the Winter Derby winner Why Worry could be the main dangers.
- The Listed Woolavington heads a bumper ten-race programme that also heralds the return to action of our 2011/12 Equus Sprinter Of The Year, What A Winter. The Mike Bass-trained champion looks veritably slung in at the weights in the curtain-raiser to the Woolavington.
The Old Mutual Pinnacle Stakes run over 1100m sees a smart field of nine going to post, and includes the classy Dupont colt Depardieu.