Candice Bass-Robinson returns to defend her R250 000 Gr3 Matchem Stakes title at Durbanville on Saturday with the Australian-bred Our Mate Art, who won such an impressive race in 2017.
The fact is that there has not been too much to get excited about with the son of Artie Schiller’s performances since.
He was outgunned in the Cape Summer features and then transferred to KZN and the SA Champions Season, where his three runs produced nothing. Winless since the 2017 Matchem, his recent sprint return when beaten 2,25 by Sir Frenchie over the speed run 1000m at the country course was better. Singapore star Aldo Domeyer rides him from the 1 draw but he has some work to do.
Vaughan Marshall last won the Matchem with Tales Of Bravery all of eight years ago but the seasoned Milnerton trainer will fancy his chances with the smart topweighted 4yo, Tap O’Noth. His trainer won the race with is sire Captain Al in 2009 and the Cape Classic and Cape Guineas winner is a really decent sort. After failing to find the Cape Derby trip, he was not disgraced in the SA Champions with decent placed efforts in the Daisy Guineas, the Daily News and the Champions Cup – the latter two being Gr1 races. Anton Marcus takes the ride and if he 80% right after a 10 week break, he should be right there and the addition of the blinkers first time could sharpen him.
Eric Sands unbeaten 4yo Rainbow Bridge has his fourth start and first this term. The son of Ideal World won in a canter on his 1200m debut and while more of a middle distance type galloper has done little wrong, winning two Gr3 races in the Cape Winter Series last season. Richard Fourie rode him in all three starts and hailed him a special sort. Job commitments see Fourie riding Fifty Cents with Bernard Fayd’herbe taking the reins on Saturday.
L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate near party spoiler Copper Force is one of a trio of runners from the Snaith yard. The son of Royal Air Force has often threatened something big and ran on well for second in the Darley Arabian on Super Saturday, despite losing a shoe. He ran fifth in this race last year and is a kilo better off with Our Mate Art for that 3,40 length deficit.
Fifty Cents and the long rested by very smart Star Chestnut make up the balance of the Snaith coupling.
The balance look to have it all to do with the classy but disappointing Horizon and obvious pacesetter and dangerous front-runner Milton possible quartet kickers.
60 Years Of Quality!
Traditionally run at Kenilworth but switched to Durbanville in 2010, the Matchem Stakes is a fitting launching pad for the Cape Summer Of Champions Season and has been won by some big names over the years.
Champion miler Capetown Noir, now standing at Summerhill Stud, won it in 2012, while dual SA Horse Of The Year Variety Club took the honours in 2011.
While he has no representation on Saturday, the most successful Matchem trainer of the 21st century is Milnerton-based Glen Puller, who won it in 2002 and 2003 with Sevilliano, when ridden by Gerrit Schlechter and Karl Neisius, respectively.
Puller also trained the 2005 winner Great Rhythm, who was piloted by Greg Cheyne.
The earliest traceable record of the Matchem Stakes in South Africa dates back to 1958. It was open to 2 and 3yo horses and run on 19 April over 1400m at Kenilworth for a stake of £1,250. The idea of running juveniles against three-year-olds over 1400m in April, at what was more or less weight for age terms came in for a lot of criticism, with many feeling it was too much to ask of the youngsters.
The Matchem Stakes is named after the famous Thoroughbred foundation stallion, who died on – 21 February 1781.
Matchem is a direct male tail line descendent of the Godolphin Arabian – or Godolphin Barb as he is also known – and along with Eclipse and Herod is considered one of the three 18th century stallions that produced the Thoroughbred sire-lines of modern times.
The 2018 race is weighted on weight-for-age plus penalties of 3kgs (Gr1), 2kgs (Gr2) and 1kg for a Gr3 success.