At last! Some serious racing to get excited about. The first rays of the Cape Summer Season will shine down on the revamped Durbanville on Saturday where the R250 000 Gr3 Matchem Stakes heralds the start of bigger things to come in the months ahead.
The 2017 renewal of the Matchem – the 59th by our calculations – is as good as anything we have seen in recent years and the ten horse contest looks set to get the hearts beating and the pulses racing.
Of special interest will be the return to action of one of the best 3yo’s of last term in Glen Kotzen’s Gold Standard. The Cape Guineas runner-up and Selangor Cup winner has not seen action since his fourth behind globetrotter Whisky Baron in the Sun Met and can be expected to be a marginal ring rusty after his 36 week break. He showed his paces in a public gallop recently and would only have to be in the right mood to win this.
Joey Ramsden’s Cape Classic winner Table Bay is proven a few lengths inferior to Gold Standard – he gets a kilo from him – and has his first start since going unplaced behind Sail South in the Champions Cup last season.
Something of an enigmatic talent, the son of Redoute’s Choice races over arguably his optimum trip and Anton Marcus rides him.
Now a 7yo, Silicone Valley gives Glen Puller a chance to win the Matchem for the fifth time. The son of Jay Peg is very game and looks a definite quartet inclusion – but has fitness on his side as a potential gamebreaker for the big guns.
Andre Nel’s La Favourari boasts four wins from his last four starts but tries the 1400m for the first time and is another who could need the outing after a 14 week break. The family has won over further and he is an interesting poser for punters. What do they say about backing a winning horse till it loses?
The 2016 Gr1 Gold Medallion winner Always In Charge has his first run in 36 weeks but is a talented sort who cannot be underestimated. The fact that Anton Marcus could have ridden him suggests though that Table Bay could have his measure.
Strong front-runner Milton will be blitzing from the 1 stall-gate and looks to give the Marwing-Bill Prestage combination a repeat of their recent Listed Settlers Trophy win. The 6yo son of Lateral has yet to win at feature level and tries Durbanville for the first time.
Copper Force has his first start since winning the Thukela Handicap on July Day. This will be the son of Royal Air Force’s first Durbanville start and the draw could count against him over the 1400m.
Black Cat Back has flown below the radar but won three on the trot over the Kenilworth 1400m at the end of last season and surprised on his return, when chasing Percival home over a too short 1000m last time.
The son of Black Minnaloushe has won 5 of his 12 starts and steps into the higher league for the first time on Saturday. The combination of Corne Orffer and Brett Crawford won the race last year with Captain America.
Last season’s Cape Winter Series bridesmaid Our Mate Art returned to action with resolve after a four month break to get the better of the highly vaunted 3yo Cot Campbell over the Kenilworth 1400m last time out in his first run as a 4yo.
The son of Artie Schiller tended to lack the killer instinct in a few of his races last season, but must be considered if he maintains the improvement.
Icon King has always been highly regarded by his astute trainer Mike Stewart and the son of Rebel King looks likely to show plenty of cheek. That said, he takes a step up in class and has a tough task on these weight terms.
Gold Standard and Table Bay look set to fight this out. Don’t underestimate the sharp Silicone Valley, while Our Mate Art could be ready to fulfil his early promise.