A terrific turn of foot and top local rider Richard Fourie could be key to Sean Tarry’s Trip To Heaven making it a double in Saturday’s R400 000 Khaya Stables Diadem Stakes. South Africa’s highest rated sprinter has a tendency to dawdle at the gates – which makes him a nerve wracking betting prospect.
Run at weight-for-age plus penalties of 2kgs for a Gr1 and 1kg for a Gr2 success, the 1200m contest has a fine history of producing thrilling finishes over the past 43 years. A few of those running here will have the Gr1 Cape Flying Championship on Met day as their major target.
The 6yo Trip To Heaven hasn’t been in the winner’s box since his facile win in the same race last year, beating Tevez and Search Party. Both of those are back again but Trip To Heaven must rank as the one to beat again. He ran on well after being baulked behind Kangaroo Jack in his prep last month and will strip fit at his second outing after a break.
Local hero Sergeant Hardy has his own issues but stayed on beautifully to win the Southeaster Sprint at his last start. A master of the Kenilworth straight track, his undoing may well lie in Richard Fourie’s tactical acumen – and he knows this top-class sprinter well.
Post Merchants winner Search Party ran a cracker in the Gr1 Mercury Sprint behind KZN champ Bull Valley and will be fitter after running unplaced behind Silicone Valley in the Merchants last time.
Past Gr1 winner Always In Charge gets the blinkers after his good effort when running on powerfully for third in the Cape Merchants last time. He is very effective over the course and distance and Anton Marcus will get the best out of him.
Brutal Force is top-class on his day and showed a flicker of life last time when stopping late but hanging in for third in the Southeaster Sprint.
Talktothestars ran unplaced in this race last year and has not been his best of late.
The 2017 runner-up Tevez, now an 8yo, ran on well for fourth in the Merchants and is a high-class sprinter with aches and pains – but plenty of ability.
The 4yo Attenborough has not been far off at his last few starts and moved up dangerously in the Merchants before finishing just out of the money. His form suggests he be included as a value galloper. His ride Donovan Dillon has been stood down.
Top 2yo of last term Dutch Philip sprouted wings in the Merchants when he burst out of the pack to be beaten just 0,75 lengths. He has a tough task and will have to hold Always In Charge.
Bishop’s Bounty has run two ordinary races on the trot since winning on the Greyville poly on July day. He stumbled when over 15 lengths behind Silicone Valley in the Cape Merchants.
Barrack Street has failed to capture any form in his two starts in the Cape this summer.
Third of the Tarry trio, Wonderwall ran a very fair fifth and only 2,35 lengths off the top-class Tap O’Noth in the Cape Guineas. His form over 1200m is very good and he could be the dark horse in the field.
Mike de Kock’s lightly raced Mujaafy ran an eyecatching race at his second Cape start when staying on well for a 1,15 length fourth behind Speedpoint in the Need For Speed Sprint. The son of Star Witness goes the extra 200m here and could challenge – although lacking the experience as he has only his fifth start.
Lord Balmoral was well beaten in the Southeaster Sprint and the Vaughan Marshall yard have been fairly quiet in these last few weeks.
Joey Ramsden’s smart 5yo Macduff has had three prep runs this term and has improved with each outing. The experiment to turn him into a ‘stayer’ last summer didn’t really work and his sprint form is above average.
Rock Of Africa ran on well behind Sergeant Hardy in the Southeaster Sprint but needs to deal with a 9kg leveller. He looks to have it all to do.
So a tricky contest, but Trip To Heaven is the class- if he gets away half on terms, he should win this. Always In Charge is a good sort and he improved nicely last time. He gets the blinkers and Anton Marcus is an added plus. Search Party will improve in his last run, while Attenborough looked dangerous late and improved fitness can see him fulfilling his early potential. Dutch Philip finished the Merchants with resolve. It won’t be easy but he is a very good 3yo.