One of the Cape’s favourite sons of years gone by, veteran Mark Khan makes a welcome return to his favourite racecourse on Saturday and partners the gallant Sergeant Hardy in a bid to achieve the double in the speed pinnacle of the local summer season.
One of a trio of runners from the powerful Snaith yard, the 5yo Sergeant Hardy has oddly not tasted success since his big win in the R1 million Gr1 Cape Flying Championship on Met day in 2018.
Known as a very capable horse with breathing and behavioural quirks, the son of Captain Al has a mountain to climb to pick himself up off the canvass and bounce back to retain the prestigious title on Saturday. Justin Snaith said early this week that Mark Khan had proven something of a lucky charm and there will be many hoping that the Cape champion will inject some life back into the Sergeant.
Another of the Cape’s much younger favourite sons, Aldo Domeyer appears to have been jocked off his regular ride, Dutch Philip, in favour of the new-look lean and mean Bernard Fayd’Herbe who flies in from Dubai and takes the reins on the smart 4yo on Saturday. Not at his best so far this term, Dutch Philip ran on late in the South Easter Sprint when beaten 2,65 lengths by Speedpoint.
He meets the Ramsden runner on 2kg worse terms on Saturday. But one just gets the feeling that he is much better than his form and he gets the vote to improve again in the blinkers.
Bold Respect was unplaced in this race last year but is slowly edging back to his best with two good placed runs at his most recent starts – including a meritorious 3rd under top weight in the Merchants.
His stablemate, the lightning fast Pacific Trader is the most improved sprinter in the Cape and continues to up his game with his raw speed style of racing. He is a course and distance specialist who has the unique ability to kick on late – even when blazing away up front. He will not be winning this out of turn.
Yvette Bremner returns to Cape Town with Southern Cross Stakes winner, Princess Rebel. The speedball ran her opposition off their feet in early December at this track and gets the services of Piere Strydom on Saturday – that engagement is in lieu of regular pilot Lyle Hewitson, who does duty for the Sean Tarry yard. There are few quicker horses around and Strydom could be a trump card in the daughter of Rebel King’s bid to register her biggest success to date.
The third of the powerful Brett Crawford attack is the 6yo Search Party who looks held by the younger Pacific Trader on current form and has not been at his top-class best for some time.
Johannesburg visitor Rebel’s Champ has won five of his last seven starts and is a 4yo on the upgrade. A gelding with the unique ability to drop out and run at them late over the minimum trip, he carried top weight when arriving late to beat Prince Of Kahal in the Lebello last time. The Cape is unchartered territory for trainer Paul Peter and jockey Carlos Herrera Gomez, and Rebel’s Champ’s performance in the national big league will make for an interesting sub-plot. He certainly has clocked the times to be competitive.
Joey Ramsden’s Computaform Sprint winner Attenborough has failed to show at his two starts this term, but is a classy – albeit moody – sort with the ability to surprise.
Merchants winner Kasimir hit the front looking a winner, but failed to withstand the challenge of Pacific Trader and was run out of it two lengths last time. He meets the Crawford speed merchant on 1,5kg better terms on Saturday, with this race his declared target for the season. He looks the value.
South Easter Sprint winner Speedpoint could find himself racing into the teeth of the South Easter from his 1 draw and while having produced some top performances over the past year, looks held by Pacific Trader on his last run.
The now 7yo Trip To Heaven has found his perennial slow-starting antics to have cost him dearly and he remains the one of the top horses never to have won a Gr1. He ran second in this race last year and did not run the worst of races at his sole start this term, when stumbling and still getting within three lengths of Pacific Trader. He is probably past his prime but has the ability to run a massive race.
Candice Dawson broke the ice with a winner in the Cape last Saturday and she saddles the pacy Rocky Valley. It is difficult to select the 5yo on current form.
The same applies to KZN mare Vision To Kill, who has not set the world alight in her two starts in Cape Town this term. She is currently a reserve runner.
The enigmatic Sand And Sea has never fulfilled the Gr1 promise of his 2yo term and looks held by Pacific Trader and a few others.
The lightly tried Pleasedtomeetyou takes a big jump in class after failing to assert himself around the turn in the Cape Classic. He won his last start well enough, but now needs to prove he can take the step up.
Former Cape-based Quinlan looks to be more of a travelling companion for his super quick stablemate and could find himself outgunned in this company on these weight terms.
The Australian-bred Sir Frenchie should find this tough and has proven quite inconsistent throughout most of his career.
Cape racing’s old man river, Tevez, is now a 9yo and has not been finishing his races off recently. He is a reserve runner.
It’s a tricky race and worth going wide in the exotics. Dutch Philip could come back to his best and he is the selection to beat Kasimir and Pacific Trader – but there are plenty hovering on the fringes.