The Cape Summer Season has showcased vintage racing of the highest quality in recent months and the R5 million Gr1 Sun Met today looks all set to provide a fitting climax to a world-class show.
As a weight-for-age contest, the calculations and assessments suggest a fairly simple outcome. But the ultimate prize in any sport never comes easy.
The weight terms of this prestigious contest, together with some raw logic and historical facts narrow the likely winners down to a probable celebration and sensational double for our reigning SA champion trainer, Justin Snaith. But if racing was that simple, it would be boring – and that it’s definitely not.
With a good pace almost a certainty, given the big stakes and proliferation of competitive forward racing gallopers, a true run race looks set to play into the hands of Snaith’s sensational Vodacom Durban July and L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate winner Do It Again, who will be primed at his third run this season. In a relatively small field, the smashingly handsome son of Twice Over is unlikely to be far off the gallop and will be cutting them down late.
His superstar stablemate, SA Horse Of The Year Oh Susanna defends her 2018 Sun Met title after her stunning recent victory in the Gr1 Paddock Stakes and is reputed to be getting stronger with every passing week. She carries 6,5kgs more than she did last year, but is still nicely in on her official rating and is another perfectly primed for a major run at her third start this term. She will wear ear muffs.
Brett Crawford’s Undercover Agent needs to prove he will stay the 2000m and the 2018 Gr1 Gold Challenge winner came under late pressure and was run out of the money late when 4 lengths off Do It Again in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate. It is no secret that he is likely to be ridden slightly differently and from off the pace – and his wide draw will give Corne Orffer the opportunity to try the energy saving experiment.
Dual past SA Horse Of The Year Legal Eagle enjoys a change of jockey with Anton Marcus jumping ship to the exciting 4yo Rainbow Bridge. The gallant 7yo has his fourth bid on the Met silverware and is another who could enjoy a change in riding tactics. He will be piloted by SA champion jockey, Lyle Hewiston. There was some concern after the Sean Tarry star stopped late in his bid to win the Queen’s Plate for the fourth consecutive year three weeks back, and many have consequently written him off as past his best. That could prove an error with the known fighting character of this eight time Gr1 winner!
Unbeaten in his first five starts, Eric Sands’ exciting Ideal World gelding Rainbow Bridge was staying on in both the Green Point Stakes and the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate. In the latter race he finished 3 lengths off Do It Again. The jury is out as to whether Rainbow Bridge had a rare off day, or was simply not ridden with due diligence in the big mile. Whatever the case, that’s all history now and Anton Marcus will get the very best out of him – and a good pace and the long Kenilworth summer straight could see this gelding setting the record straight on Saturday.
Joey Ramsden’s Argentinian bred dual Gr1`winner Hat Puntano has not been in prime form at his recent starts and there is little to explain his poor close on 16 lengths defeat in the Queen’s Plate – beyond the fact that he was slow away and may not have enjoyed the blinkers – which are removed on Saturday. The Charity Mile winner needs to find his best form.
The Andre Nel pair of Head Honcho and Kampala Campari bid to give owner Sabine Plattner a second winner after Martial Eagle stunned the nation back in 2013 when trained by Yogas Govender. The July Consolation winner Head Honcho looks the pick of the Rondeberg pair and, a winner of 6 of his last 7 starts, has continued to improve with every run. He was given a ten pound penalty for his 3,50 length defeat of Made To Conquer in the Premiers at his last start and may be a horse with more upward potential. His form is faultless and he strips fit.
Kampala Campari – bred on the same Querari x Captain Al cross as his stablemate – was narrowly beaten in the Peninsula Handicap last time and prior to that beat the perennial bridesmaid Ollivander in an MR 96 Handicap at Durbanville. He looks a genuine longshot at best.
The 2018 Cape Derby winner Eyes Wide Open – he beat Do It Again that memorable Met day in 2018 – has failed to deliver the goods and has been a frustrating talent to follow. He won’t have fitness excuses after three prep runs but will need to lift his game to give Woodhill Racing an overdue first Met winner.
Vaughan Marshall’s Tap O’Noth is a classy son of Captain Al who has sailed under the radar into the Met. While winless since his career peak success in the Cape Guineas of 2017, he has consistently finished on the feature fringes and has enjoyed a workmanlike, more than spectacular, prep. He could be a possible quartet kicker if luck goes his way.
We have covered the prospects of the 7yo Milton later in these pages. The Lateral gelding is a genuine galloper who is bound to be up or near the pace – although in this league there are no guarantees that he will be leading from the jump. He looks to have it all to do and would be a crushing hometown success for the small trainer were he to pull it off.
Another of the Snaith quartet, the recent Peninsula Handicap winner Doublemint is primed to fire at his third start this term and gets the value added services of top jockey Piere Strydom. A horse that will probably eventually be aimed in the direction of the 2019 Durban July, the son of Twice Over will enjoy a hard gallop and will be running at them late. Whether he is good enough to run in the top four remains to be seen.
The 2018 Vodacom Durban July runner-up Made To Conquer looks to have a big task at the weights and would ordinarily have been a more likely candidate for the 2800m stayers contest later in the day. That said, his smart recent second behind Head Honcho in the Premiers and outstanding work at home has prompted his connections to take their chances here. He runs in blinkers to sharpen him up.
All told, it looks a straight three corned match between stablemates Do It Again and Oh Susanna, with Rainbow Bridge sure to be in the action late. Enjoy it!