The R1 million Gr1 Champions Cup could see a changing of the power guard as some smart 3yo’s take on their established elders at weight-for-age over the Greyville 1800m on Saturday.
Brett Crawford’s 2017 exacta pair of Captain America and Sail South are back – but they aren’t getting younger.
With 18 victories between them, there will be plenty of framed shots of Captain America and Sail South proudly adorning the Crawford Racing stable office for years to come and the two class acts are back for more on Saturday.
Sail South beat Captain America 1,25 lengths last year but as a Gr1 winner he loses the benefit of the 2kg discount that he enjoyed then. With two class placed efforts in the Drill Hall Stakes and the Gold Challenge, would it be folly to write him off from the 1 draw as he bids for the double?
Captain America picks his fights these days. He has only had one run since a decent fifth behind Oh Susanna in the Sun Met. That was a 0,75 length third to Undercover Agent in the Gold Challenge where he showed good pace. He is a powerful galloper wo never gives up.
Their much younger stablemate Undercover Agent has enjoyed a dream season – winning the Byerley Turk, going down narrowly in the Drill Hall and then winning the Gold Challenge. His dam won up to 2200m and he should stay the extra. An exciting prospect with Anton Marcus in the irons!
Glen Kotzen saddles a coupling headed by the Investec Cape Derby winner Eyes Wide Open, a son of Dynasty who has been lightly campaigned this term. He needed the run when squeezed and baulked and finishing out of the money in the Thukela on July day. He is much better than that and watch for a big effort from this class 3yo.
Gold Standard has failed to produce his 3yo excellence in two runs on the East Coast this term. The son of Trippi showed no interest when beaten 11,55 lengths in the July. He would be a surprise winner.
Drill Hall Stakes winner Perovskia ran on too late when beaten by Infamous Fox in the Thukela Handicap on July day. The son of Russian Sage was beaten just under 7 lengths in the Cup Trial and faces his major test here from a wide draw.
Sean Tarry’s Bulleting Home has only his second run of this season. The son of Western Winter stayed on well behind Summer Sky at his opener but faces fit and quality opposition on tough terms.
Mike de Kock’s SA Classic winner Heavenly Blue has been sparingly raced and has his second run after a six month break. A highly regarded colt, he can find his better form and surprise.
Vaughan Marshall’s Cape Guineas winner Tap O’Noth has run two smart races here this season. He finished third in both the Daisy Guineas and the Daily News and is not a horse to underestimate.
Crowd Pleaser loves the KZN season and has run two great races – second cheques in the Cup Trial and the Consolation July, showing his wellbeing. That said, he has quite a task at the weight-for-age terms of this race.
Matador Man never showed in the Vodacom Durban July but is likely to be more effective over the 400m shorter here. The son of Toreador ran an eyecatching third 2,25 lengths behind the Crawford pair last year – but does not have the luxury of a weight pull this time round. But he is in his prime, whereas the top two are rising 8 years of age.
Candice Bass-Robinson will be keen to secure a Gr1 feature success after a relatively quiet SA Champions Season. She saddles Selangor Cup winner Rocket Countdown who did not run the worst race when a 7,35 length sixth in the Vodacom Durban July. This is naturally much tougher but he is a solid 3yo who can stay on for a place cheque if things go his way.
We are siding with the 3yo’s – Eyes Wide Open, Undercover Agent and Tap O’Noth could fight it out.