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Progress Plate at Kenilworth on Wednesday

Curved Ball won the Gr2 Dingaans in 2009

Progress Plate over 1400m at Kenilworth (new course) on Wednesday

With feature races now coming thick and fast in both the Western Cape and Gauteng, plate races are the order of the day in midweek. Of particular interest at Kenilworth is progress event over 1400m where the highest rated of the eight runners is the 2009 Dingaans winner Curved Ball, writes Steve Furnish.

Formerly with Charles Laird in Gauteng, Curved Ball completed a hat-trick in the Sea Cottage Stakes after gaining his prestigious win in the Dingaans and at that stage of his career looked to have a very bright future ahead him. He was reported as lame on the off fore when finishing fourth in his only subsequent outing in the Tony Ruffel Stakes in that season and prior to finishing eighth in the Cape Merchants last time out, he had been off the track for some 21 months. Taking everything into account, Curved Ball ran a cracker in that latest outing as he was finishing best of all and was only beaten 3,2 lengths. He’s sure to appreciate the extra here and he is weighted to win.

Dead Cert

As well as Curved Ball, trainer Joey Ramsden is also represented by both Dead Cert and Lucky Moon. Dead Cert has some very useful form to his name and he has gained two of his three career victories over today’s distance. His form of late has been a little in and out though and with his two latest successes have been achieved in handicap company, he wont’ find it easy now out at the weights here.

Lucky Moon

After finishing runner up in the Matchem Stakes last season, Lucky Moon went on to contest both the Cape Guineas and Cape Derby. He battled to make his presence felt in those top grade events though, and has since been very sparingly raced. He goes particularly well over today’s distance, but returning from a six month break here he is perhaps best just watched.

Never Forever

Natal based trainer Dennis Drier has gotten off to a good start since arriving in Cape Town for the season and he is represented here by both Never Forever and Phantom Fighter. After finishing fourth in the 2009 Gold Medallion Never Forever found himself with a rating of 101 and then battled to find the winner’s enclosure until picking up two plate races. His rating in the interim dropped back to a more credible 93, but he was then again (rather harsely in my book) pushed back up to 101 after finishing fifth in the Mercury Sprint in July. He did finish ahead of Curved Ball in the Merchants last time out, but that one was finishing much the stronger and he is now 2,5kg better off at the weights.

Phantom Fighter

More of a threat from the stable could be Phantom Fighter, and he will be ridden by stable jockey Alec Forbes. A son of Jet Master, Phantom Fighter progressed quickly last season and after winning the Gr3 Byerley Turk Stakes over today’s distance at Scottsville in April, he went on to run a very creditable third in the Gr2 Natal Guineas. He has his third run after the rest here and now likely to be at his peak, should be thereabouts.

First Lad

Representing the in form stable of Yogis Govender is the 4yo First Lad. He could well be at his best over a tad further, but he has won over 1400m and he did run a good second over today’s distance to the up and coming Jackson in his penultimate start. He not surprisingly found the going a bit tough when stepping up in class to contest the Gr2 Green Point Stakes last time out and although further improvement will surely be forthcoming from this son of Jallad, he faces another very stiff task here.

M’Lords Throat

Second highest rated by the official handicapper, and indeed very well in at the weights with all except Curved Ball is the Silvano colt M’Lords Throat. Fifth in both the Gr2 Selangor Cup and Gr1 Cape Guineas last season, Glen Kotzen’s charge is not far off the best of his generation. He’s been sparingly raced during the course of 2011 and interestingly, he hasn’t raced over a trip this short since finishing fourth on debut. Bigger targets will no doubt be in mind for M’Lords Throat, but he does usually race up with the speed and it will be interesting to see how he goes.


Mike Stewart’s charge kept on determinedly when making all to win over today’s distance at Durbanville in October, but he has since been beaten twice in much weaker company, and badly out at the weights with all here he cannot be seriously fancied.

About The Pace

Although just eight runners go to post, there is enough speed in the race to ensure a fair pace. Curved Ball showed real potential as a 3yo two seasons ago, and that will no doubt be the main reason why thirty of the original 38 entries for this event have not stood their ground. He ran on best of all in his comeback run in the Merchants last time out and now with the weights in his favour over a more suitable trip, he should take a lot of beating here.

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