Reigning SA Horse Of The Year Oh Susanna adds glamour to a royal occasion at Turffontein today. The star filly takes on twelve rivals at weight-for-age in the R1 million HSH Princess Charlene Gr1 Empress Club Stakes.
Her champion trainer has walked this road before.
Justin Snaith’s smashing grey Dancer’s Daughter won the race in 2009 under Mark Khan and the powerful team will be hoping that Oh Susanna can repeat the feat.
But there are reasons why the big gun Capetonians don’t clean up on the Highveld – altitude and the energy sapping long road being just two of them. And to add more caution into the equation, Oh Susanna comes in off an eleven week break since running unplaced in a bid to win the Sun Met for the second year in a row.
Jonathan Snaith told the Sporting Post that punters looking purely at the paper calculations should exercise caution and take cognisance of factors against her – like the altitude, the fact that she is coming off an 11 week rest – and that the mile is short of her best.
“Interestingly, this magnificent filly has never won over a mile and most of her wins are over 1800m and further. She has been at Summerveld for a month and in a bid to minimise the altitude impact, we will on transport her to Turffontein on Friday evening,” he added.
Oh Susanna will jump from the 1 draw and if running even to a margin of her best ability would beat this field. The Snaiths would not be making the trip if they felt she hadn’t had sufficient work to keep her respectably competitive.
Fellow Capetonian Fresnaye has been in Gauteng a lot longer and has the benefit of a decent prep run under her belt. Joey Ramsden’s Victress Stakes winner is held by Oh Susanna but her fitness and prep would certainly give her a shout if the Horse Of The Year doesn’t come up to expectations.
Cascapedia has her third run after a rest and was beaten just out of the money against the boys in the Horse Chestnut Stakes last time out. She is held on past form by Oh Susanna and it is concerning that she made respiratory noises last time – not the first incident of this kind. On her day, she is top-class though and Gavin Lerena knows her well.
Al Danza returns to her own sex company after three tough races in mixed competition. She showed some pace when beaten just under 4 lengths by Soqrat in the Horse Chestnut Stakes last time out. Her last run against the girls saw her second in the Ipi Tombe when giving Nafaayes as much as 7kgs and finishing 2,80 lengths behind her.
Redberry Lane should strip fit after two good prep runs following a two month rest after her unplaced Ipi Tombe Stakes effort. Piere Strydom appears to get the best out of this capable Western Winter mare and she should be thereabouts.
Hardknocking Aussie bred Gauteng Fillies Guineas winner Nafaayes was not disgraced when following up and beaten 0,30 lengths behind subsequent Oaks star Return Flight in the SA Classic. That was a decent effort and she would have benefitted from the short break.
Second of the Tarry duo, Celtic Sea has found good form when winning her last two starts in good style. She beat stablemate Redberry Lane last time by 3,80 lengths in receipt of 4kgs and comes in 1,5kgs worse off – but still looking very competitive!
KZN visitor and Daisy Fillies Guineas winner Fiorella ran a nice prep in the Fever Tree at Scottsville when she showed good pace to run the capable male Tribal Fusion to 1,50 lengths. She ran fourth in the Ipi Tombe Stakes over the course and distance last year but will need to improve on that.
Third of the De Kock trio, 2018 Fillies Mile winner Ghaalla has drawn wide out and looks to need to make up ground to challenge. This is her second start since an unsuccessful trip to the Cape for the Fillies Guineas.
Running Brave ran top-class seconds in the Three Troikas Stakes and the Gauteng Fillies Guineas but failed to reproduce her best when stumbling and running 3 lengths off Return Flight in the SA Fillies Classic last time out. It is possible that the mile may be her limit and she could earn place money again.
KZN visitor and Flamboyant Stakes winner Camphoratus improved again in the Jacaranda Handicap when chasing Insignis home to be beaten just under two lengths. She would have to improve to beat the likes of Oh Susanna.
Cashel Palace appears to have a big task at these weights. The daughter of Fort Wood has also drawn wide and even though she has kept an honest form profile for some time, she could battle against the stronger girls.
We are siding with the seasoned travelling Snaiths to get it all right and Oh Susanna to come up trumps. Fresnaye and Cascapedia are the obvious dangers, with Redberry Lane the value.
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