Mike Azzie’s outstanding Go Deputy gelding Abashiri takes his next step to equine immortality when he lines up in the R2 million Gr1 SA Classic at Turffontein on Saturday. Fit, in sparkling form and loaded with talent, it is difficult suggesting that anything can stop his march to Triple Crown glory.
Abashiri won the first leg of the SASCOC SA Triple Crown with a stamp of authority that suggested he can only get better with the benefit of racing experience.
A magnificent gelding with a nerve-wracking tendency to drift out to the Turrfontein Grandstand, his comprehensive defeat of Champagne Haze in the Gauteng Guineas was eyecatching stuff and the course and distance winner holds all-comers on Saturday.
A winner of 4 of his 6 outings, Abashiri looks the banker in all exotics and Karl Zechner has done nothing wrong, having been aboard at his last three successive victories.
It is interesting that top jockey Anton Marcus sticks with Brazuca.
The Aussie bred took forever to get going in the Guineas, but anybody who watched his storming penultimate effort in the Cape Guineas would have noted that he can only be an increased threat over the extra 200m here.
Champagne Haze finished best of the rest for second in the Gauteng Guineas and he tries 1800m for the first time.
The son of Kahal has done little wrong in his last two starts and he will be ready for a massive effort on Saturday under Gavin Lerena – who will be hungry for winners after a slightly disappointing stint in Hong Kong.
Gavin Van Zyl’s Judpot gelding Rocketball has sadly drawn widest of all and was beaten 10,90 lengths in the Gauteng Guineas.
He did run a much better race in the Sea Cottage Stakes when just 3,25 lengths behind Abishiri and his KZN runs over 1900m on the Greyville polytrack spoke volumes of a horse with plenty of stamina
The Mike de Kock pair of Suyoof and Muwaary have both shown enough to have earned their respective berths here.
Suyoof won the Gr3 Tony Ruffel Stakes beating Champagne Haze at his penultimate start by a half length but failed to spark when 8 lengths behind Abashiri in the Guineas.
He tries the 1800m for the first time and has a wide draw to beat.
Graham Beck Stakes winner Muwaary finished marginally behind Suyoof in the Guineas at his first run back home after going unplaced in the Selangor Cup down in Cape Town.
He is a fellow with a stamp of class about him and should appreciate the 1800m.
Romany Prince won the Listed Drum Star beating Judicial at his last start and was 6,10 lengths behind Abashiri at his penultimate.
Anthony Delpech rides the son of Kahal for trainer Ormond Ferraris and while he will need to improve further to win here, he has scope and should be watched as a quartet kicker.
Le Clos and Trading Profit make up the balance of the Azzie ‘citrus’ attack.
Le Clos has made respiratory noises at many of his starts but is a pacy and gutsy front-runner who has a perfect 2 gate to lead early and provide Abashiri with a winning assault platform.
There is some doubt over whether he will stay the 1800m.
Trading Profit on the other hand gets every inch of the trip and beat the solid older handicapper Judicial in receipt of 6kgs last time.
The son of Toreador looks well held by the Azzie stable elect on his penultimate effort but has place prospects if Bernard Fayd’herbe can overcome the wide draw.
Sean Tarry’s runners are always a factor on the big days and the SA champion is represented by a four-way coupling.
Highest rated is the King’s Chapel colt Malak El Moolook who ran on smartly for third in the Gauteng Guineas, beaten just 2,60 lengths by Abashiri.
On that run and his Sea Cottage Stakes effort, he is well held by the favourite and his last run behind Liege was a modest effort.
Stable jockey S’manga Khumalo takes the ride on Lunar Approach who finished 16 lengths back in the Gauteng Guineas on his first run post the CTS Million Dollar down in Cape Town.
While he will be better this time round, he has plenty of ground to make up.
Liege is the third of the Tarry quartet and has had two runs since returning from his Cape summer campaign.
The son of Dynasty may have needed it when beaten 7,30 lengths in the Gauteng Guineas and was quite impressive when beating Saturday’s Derby Trial third placed Count Tassilo by six lengths last time.
Whether that is classic strength collateral remains to be seen.
Samurai Blade rounds off the Tarry attack and cannot be fancied on form and with his relatively modest 88 rating.
He has yet to be exposed to any feature activity but was beaten 5 lengths by Rocketball in an MR89 Handicap a few runs back.
Geoff Woodruff-trained Val Et Al would have to run lengths better than his rating to feature here but he did bounce back to winning form at his last start.
The son of Captain Al beat subsequent good winner Kangaroo Jack by 3,25 lengths in an MR 85 Handicap. He ran a shocker at his penultimate start when 25 lengths plus behind Abashiri in the Sea Cottage Stakes.
The form books tell the story. If they run true to form, then Abashiri wins it.
The one lurker could be Brazuca who could finally put a winning effort together after three really decent runs.
Champagne Haze looks set to chase those two home – it is difficult making a case for anything else.