National Trainer’s log leader Justin Snaith is looking forward to a “very exciting” SA Champions Season and will be bringing “the strongest string” he has ever had for the three month feast of top class racing.
www.goldcircle.co.za reports that Snaith has been granted 30 boxes at Summerveld by Gold Circle and is due to arrive around Easter. Among his travelling string will be his pair of dual Grade 1 winners Oh Susanna and Snowdance. Snaith has won five of the nine Grade 1 races run to date in South Africa this season.
However, he warned ante-post punters that his Sun Met and Cartier Paddock Stakes-winner Oh Susanna would only have a 5% chance of running in the Vodacom Durban July and his WSB Cape Fillies Guineas and Klawervlei Majorca Stakes-winner Snowdance would not even be nominated.
He does not believe Snowdance will see out the 2200m trip, while Oh Susanna, already merit rated 115, will be asked to carry too much weight for a three-year-old filly.
Snaith has won the July twice before, including with the British-bred filly Dancer’s Daughter, but she was stoutly bred and as a four-year-old in 2008 carried only 53kg.
He mentioned four horses who would be targeting the July, African Night Sky, Do It Again, Platinum Prince and Strathdon.
He said, “African Night Sky was the unlucky-lucky horse in the Met, unlucky to finish sixth, but lucky because he therefore avoided a merit rated raise. He will come into the July with bottom weight.” Do It Again caught the eye with a flying second in the Grade 1 Investec Cape Derby and is held in high regard. Snaith said he had laid off Platinum Prince and Strathdon recently with the SA Champions Season in mind.
Platinum Prince won four on the trot from 1600-2000m from May to July last year. In his last run on January 6 he finished third in the Grade 2 Peninsula Handicap, beaten 2,75 lengths by subsequent Cape Derby winner Eyes Wide Open. He was only running off a 94 merit rating in the Peninsula. However, he is a four-year-old by Silvano, whose progeny get better with age and whom also have a phenomenal record in the July.
Strathdon is also a four-year-old by Silvano and is a half-brother to Cape Guineas winner Tap O’ Noth. He has won his last four races over distance of 1800-2500m, including the Listed Woolavington Handicap over 2400m and the Grade 3 Mahala TV Cape Summer Stayers Handicap over 2500m.
Snaith said he would race his top horses “sparingly” in KZN and would be choosing their targets very carefully.
Oh Susanna might have only one run, in the Grade 1 Woolavington 2000.
He had not finalised a plan for Snowdance, but mentioned the prestigious weight for age mile, the Rising Sun Gold Challenge, as one of her likely targets.
In that case it is hoped Legal Eagle’s new connections will bring him down for this race. Snowdance is the one horse in the country with the potential to dethrone Legal Eagle from his cemented position as best miler in the country.
Snaith’s other Grade 1 winner this season is Sergeant Hardy, who won the Betting World Cape Flying Championship on Met day to remain unbeaten in three starts over the Kenilworth 1000m trip. He is targeting only one race for him, the Grade 1 weight for age Mercury Sprint over 1200m at Greyville. He said, “I will have to teach him to run around the turn as he has never cornered well. He will avoid the Tsogo Sun Sprint as he will be weighted out of it.” Sergeant Hardy is merit rated 117.
However, Snaith is earmarking the Tsogo Sun for two horses, Bishop’s Bounty and Kasimir.
Bishop’s Bounty was an impressive two length winner of the Grade 2 Khaya Stables Diadem Stakes over 1200m at Kenilworth last time out, despite being considerably under sufferance carrying 59kg off his 101 merit rating. He was duly given the maximum ten point raise to 111.
Kasimir ran a fine half-a-length second to the classy Dutch Phillip in the US$500,000 CTS 1200 on Met day. He is now merit rated 99. Snaith has another trick up his sleeve with this Captain Al colt too and aims to give him a pipe opener in the Grade 3 Byerley Turk over 1400m at Greyville on April 8. ”He is a half-brother to Afrikaburn (a Grade 1-winner over the Greyville 1400m) and I have been waiting quietly for this race for a long time.”
Snaith has not yet finalised his SA Champions Season string and one reason is he is still deciding whether or not to campaign some of his good three-year-olds in the Cape Winter series. A case in point is Cot Campbell, who was third in the Grade 3 Cape Classic and then fourth in both the Cape Guineas and CTS Mile, and he will likely be staying in Cape Town. He said, “We were a bit disappointed in his CTS Mile run, but he is a very nice individual and talented.”
Snaith said he would bring a couple of precocious Captain Al two-year-olds, who are owned by KZN-based clients.
A boon for the yard is that they have been put under no pressure to send horses overseas under the current quarantine requirements. “My owners know how much the arduous journey overseas takes out of a horse and they love racing in South Africa, so I am under no pressure to go that route.” However, if the protocols change, as they have been threatening to do, he said some of his best horses would “definitely” head overseas.