With a proud and colourful 92 year history of tradition and racing action, it is a rather sad thought for the sentimentalists amongst us that Clairwood will soon close its gates forever, and disappear into the mists of time. The Garden Course is the setting for the week’s topliner, an MR 94 Handicap run over what is one of the fairest 1900m tracks anywhere in Africa.
Clairwood Race-course was built on land that was originally nothing but a swamp. A combination of foresight and some careful planning heralded the opening on Tuesday May 24, 1921. Originally an oasis of fauna and flora, the picturesque site is changing character and is set to be transformed into a new warehouse and distribution centre to service the new dig-out port at the old international airport.
While the move is a damning indictment of the modern era economic realities that face most businesses today, we are for now concerned first and foremost with matters of finding winners. The well patronised midweek card is a tricky one all round. The eight horse field in the day’s topliner is quite competitively matched. Dennis Drier’s smart Cataloochee gelding King Neptune stands out as a likely winner. The 5yo gelding is lightly raced, and has won 3 of his 14 outings.
He won his last start, an MR84 over the Scottsville mile, in good style under regular pilot Sean Cormack. King Neptune has some excellent close up measures to the likes of good sorts like Rock Cocktail, Hot Ticket and Alec Laird’s KZN Million Mile winner,Gitiano.
The Lundy’s Liability gelding Parker made an impressive debut for Paul Lafferty, when staying on strongly behind Serissa at his first outing in KZN. The run is made more meritorious by the fact that his saddle slipped at a crucial time. Formerly trained by Justin Snaith in Phillipi, the 4yo is stakes placed and was just off the best of his 3yo year.He has won 4 of his 20 starts, and will be ridden again by the masterful Anthony Delpech.
Garth Puller’s Air Patrol is very fit and the free running course and distance has the added benefit of a 4kg apprentice claim. Trainer Colin Scott and jockey MJ Odendaal have struck up a winning combination, and they team up with Live Controversy. Like Parker, he is a son of Lundy’s Liability. Live Controversy ran a fair fifth 1,35 lengths, behind King Neptune at his last start. He meets the Drier runner on a kilo better terms here.
Roy’s Jet also ran in the same race and finished 3 lengths behind King Neptune. He now meets King Neptune on 2kgs better terms. Paul Gadsby’s Jet Master gelding improved nicely at his next start over the Clairwood 1800m, and only went down narrowly to Father Ted. Sean Tarry’s supremely consistent Black Minnaloushe gelding William Conquest does not know how to run a bad race, and put in another game effort when third to Father Ted when running on strongly last time. He will be ridden by S’manga Khumalo, who has won on him previously, and must be included in all calculations.
King Neptune has the ability to win a contest of this nature. He is the selection to beat Parker and Roy’s Jet, with William Conquest likely to be right on top of them.