The younger generation may well hold the edge in Saturday’s R500 000 Gr1 Klawervlei Majorca Stakes run over a mile at Kenilworth. This race has been won by some of our best lady racers in years gone by, and we are hardly short on talent this time round.Dancer’s Daughter, Mother Russia and Ebony Flyer. Those are just some of the big names that have won this sought after race in recent years, and we could be welcoming a new star or two on the horizon.
While one can never discard the likes of the tough older campaigners like Happy Archer, Viva Maria and Thunder Dance, there is a quartet of top-class 3yo’s lower down the weights that appear to be going places and look very strong.
Just over a week ago, the Giant’s Causeway filly Blueridge Mountain would have been at double figure odds for this event, but her shares have soared after a scintillating 12-1 victory in last Saturday’s Gr 2 Graham Beck Memorial Sceptre Stakes.
That prestigious fillies sprint feature was seen as something of a boat race between Sunshine Rock and All Is Secret, but Gary Alexander’s chestnut scythed through late down the middle to win a cracker. The win caught punters napping somewhat. The Jooste-owned Blueridge Mountain had apparently been based in Cape Town for some time, and while racing under the Alexander banner was effectively being prepared, fed and tucked in at night by Cape Champion trainer Joey Ramsden.
That little public relations blunder is now in the open and Blueridge Mountain will not be allowed to run wild at double figure odds again. Particularly as Anton Marcus now gets into the saddle. Poor Glen Hatt must feel more like Jack Hatt at the moment! But such is the unfair world of big business – or is it professional sport? Blueridge Mountain had run only five lengths off Rumya in the Fillies Guineas where her poor draw ruined her chances. She had come off a superb second to the top-class Festival Of Fire in the Starling Stakes over the Turffontein 1400m. While poorly drawn again, there appears little doubt that Blueridge Mountain will get the trip and word has it that she has been working up a storm at home.
Her major opposition could be provided by Glen Kotzen’s Jet Master, Jet Aglow, who has put in two top-class efforts in the Fillies Guineas and more recently the Paddock Stakes. Her 1,90 lengths to Rumya at level weights and then a flying, albeit well beaten second, to Beach Beauty in the Paddock Stakes, brings her in with a major shout in this field. There is little to choose between Jet Aglow and All Is Secret, who has not drawn well at 13.
Their runs in the Fillies Championship and the Fillies Guineas leave little in it, but we prefer Jet Aglow as she settles well. All Is Secret tends to pull hard and exert herself- which costs her.
Mike Bass sends out Hammie’s Hooker and Butterfly Girl, Hammie’s Hooker ran a poor race in the Paddock Stakes, but with her saddle slipping and running wide, it meant that she had no chance to show her true ability. She ran a flying second to Rumya in the Fillies Guineas at her previous start, and could hold Jet Aglow and All Is Secret on that. She is also better drawn than both and lest we forget that she reeled off an impressive five wins on the trot as a 2yo. Butterfly Girl is probably the weakest of the 3yo’s, but could sneak into a place as she is not far off the rest. But after admiring the merits of that group, we have to show some respect for the proven set.
A good starting point here would be Sean Tarry’s Happy Archer, a Group 1 winning seven time winner from 25 starts, who can run with the best on her day. The Australian bred daughter of Dubawi jumped from a poor draw in the Paddock Stakes , and that put paid to her chances of showing her ability as she faded to finish 6,45 lengths behind Beach Beauty. Happy Archer had run a close up third behind Demanding Lady in the Gr2 Ipi Tombe Challenge at Turffontein in December. If one considers that she gave the winner 4kgs and finished just behind her and that Demanding Lady won a strong Pinnacle Stakes from end to end this past weekend, then the form looks good. Happy Archer is well drawn at 3 on Saturday, and Piere Strydom will know exactly how to extract the best from her. Mike De Kock’s Gr1 Woolavington winner Viva Maria set the pace in the Paddock Stakes and faded to finish a 5,50 length third to Beach Beauty. There is a school of thought that says that Viva Maria may find the mile on the sharp side, but the trainer-jockey combination cannot be ignored.
Brett Crawford sends out Thunder Dance in the ‘Jackson’ silks and this daughter of Jet Master finished right on top of them in the Paddock Stakes when running a six length fifth after stopping late. Her previous win, a smashing effort against the boys in the Jet Master Stakes, was a solid course and distance effort, and while poorly drawn at 14, she could be more comfortable over this trip and will be running at them late. Crawford also sends Frequent Flyer and Reflective Image to post. Frequent Flyer is a capable mare who gave plenty of cheek before running second in this race last year to the brilliant Ebony Flyer. She managed a good fourth in a blanket finish behind Razzle Dazzle Rose in the Victress Stakes , but then went slightly flat in the Paddock Stakes.
Reflective Image is an interesting runner. The daughter of Tamburlaine is a capable sprinter, having won the Olympic Duel Stakes last season. The one major frustration, however, is that she inevitably arrives on the scene when the race is over. An experiment to run her in blinkers last time almost ended disastrously in the Sceptre Stakes, where she played up like a naughty child. Despite that, she ran on well for a great fourth behind Blueridge Mountain. It sort of half makes sense that she is now stepped up to the mile, and if she stays and produces that burst, then she could prove a danger. Her dam only won up to 110m, so only the race will tell us if she stays.
Besides the promising Jet Aglow, Glen Kotzen also has Beloved Betty and Cash Register in the race. Both are always in the action and Cash Register in particular caught the eye, when flying through for a 3,20 length fifth in the Peninsula Handicap behind Hill Fifty Four. If one considers that both Hill Fifty Four and Black Wing, who finished a head in front of her, are in the Met field, then Cash Register looks strong. Her 17 draw will count against her though. Like an unwanted relative, Beloved Betty is always in the neighbourhood, and the daughter of Spectrum has run on strongly at her last three starts. That form makes for interesting reading! A fifth to Hill Fifty Four in the Gr3 Algoa Cup. A second to Razzle Dazzle Rose in the Victress Stakes. A flying fourth behind Beach Beauty in the Gr1 Paddock Stakes. Be warned. Beloved Betty runs for Chris Puller and will come out fighting fit on Saturday.
Of the remainder, the Snaith’s Hurricane Katrina has consistent PE form and the benefit of a 1 draw with Felix Coetzee in the saddle. This is much tougher than what she is used to though. Victress Stakes winner Razzle Dazzle Rose has drawn widest, as she did in the Paddock Stakes, and never showed there. Piet Steyn’s Super Elegant is a tough cookie who won the Diana Stakes in 2012. She is battling, but could always run to her best ability and grab a place cheque. Dennis Drier’s SA Fillies Classic winner Bambina Stripes has drawn awfully and took no interest when tailed off last in the Paddock Stakes. She was very highly rated by her astute trainer and if she finds her feet again, she could shock them. But that appears outside of the realms of reality right now.
On The Fence
There are plenty who could win this. Blueridge Mountain is talented and classy, but has a mountain to climb with that draw. Hammie’s Hooker appeals as a likely winner from the 3yo group and together with Jet Aglow, could be the right two. But how does one discount the likes of the older Happy Archer, Thunder Dance and Kotzen’s Beloved Betty and Cash Register? With difficulty!