SA champion trainer Justin Snaith last won the Gr1 SA Fillies Sprint in 2012 with the smashing triple Gr1 winner Ebony Flyer.
He returns on Saturday with two Captain Al full sisters and will be keen to see the powerful yard’s name engraved on the sought-after trophy again.
Most of us may have already forgotten that the top-class Snowdance won her Kenilworth debut back on Valentine’s Day in 2017 over 1100m – and after a few lower-key performances recently, the Cheveley Stud-bred flyer goes back to basics as she reverts to 1200m on Saturday.
Calling her recent efforts lower key is perhaps not completely fair. She ran handily in the Queen’s Plate – our premier WFA mile – and faded late behind her July winning stablemate Do It Again. She then went slightly flat-footed late when beaten just out of the money in the Majorca Stakes on Met day. Running fresh, she will revert to the sprints – her preferred playground according to Jonathan Snaith, who suggests it is only her class that carries her over further.
Her year younger sister and stablemate Juniper Spring was runner-up in the Sceptre Stakes at her penultimate start and then clearly needed it when running just under 4 lengths off Freedom Charter in the Poinsettia. Look for a bigger effort from this talented 3yo on Saturday.
Last year’s Allan Robertson winner Mighty High has been a consistent sort throughout the past 12 months and she ran on steadily in the Camellia Stakes on Champions Day to be beaten 2,50 lengths by the top-class Schippers. She is now 2kgs better off with the Woodruff filly on that effort.
This race has always been the target for the 4yo Schippers, who just doesn’t know how to run a bad race. If she takes to Scottsville, she could overwhelm them and, as a still maturing and fit daughter of Var, she rates a massive runner for owner-breeder Geoff van Lear, who will be making the trip to the Capital.
Mike de Kock’s Gauteng Fillies Guineas winner Nafaayes stumbled in running when unplaced in the KRA Fillies Guineas last time out. This quality daughter of Exceed And Excel reverts to the sprints and won over 1000m on debut – so should not lack toe.
Neptune’s Rain has not won in over a year but seems to run for Anton Marcus and can improve on her 4 lengths unplaced effort in the Poinsettia last time out.
Celtic Sea has been beaten out of the money in the Empress Club Stakes and the KRA Fillies Guineas at her last two starts. She goes back to sprinting and it is worth noting that she chased Mighty High home in the Allan Robertson at the corresponding meeting last year. So don’t write her off at a decent price.
Under new ownership, the uber consistent Rose In Bloom was beaten 6 lengths in this event last year but has strengthened as a 4yo and ran a decent enough trial in the Poinsettia Stakes when fourth and just over two lengths behind Freedom Charter.
Green Plains is a very decent sprinter and showed speed as she ran handily in the Camellia, before she tired to be beaten 2,75 lengths by Schippers. She is a kilo better off here and ran only 2,40 lengths off Sommerlied in this race last year.
Glen Kotzen enjoyed a good day at Greyville last Saturday and the Paarl trainer will be looking for more feature fireworks from his talented duo of Temple Grafin and Elusive Heart.
Temple Grafin won the Umzimkhulu Stakes in good style before staying on for third and 4 lengths off Santa Clara in the KRA Fillies Guineas. She looks to be enjoying a tad further than the sprints as she has matured – but remains a serious contender at best.
Elusive Heart produced a meritorious effort over the 1200m of the Poinsettia Stakes when chasing Freedom Charter home and beaten just over a length.
Freedom Charter takes on some big hitting opposition here but won so well last time that it could be folly discounting the chances of Fayd’herbe producing her late in the race.
The Azzie team will be looking for better luck after Orpheus’ July dream went pear-shaped in the Gr2 WSB 1900 last weekend. They saddle the good recent Sycamore Sprint winner San Fermin, who subsequently stayed on well for fifth and 4,35 lengths off Schippers in the Camellia. This will be San Fermin’s first away game.
Winless in over fourteen months, Vision To Kill was well beaten by Freedom Charter in the Poinsettia Stakes last time – but in her defence, she really is probably a good few lengths more effective down the straight track.
Dennis Drier won this race last year with Sommerlied, and while the gutsy Anime is not in the same league, she is a hardknocking sort who could challenge for the places.
Third of the Sean Tarry trio, the solid Var mare Exquisite Touch has not won in over a year but has run intermittently decent races – most notably against the good males Mardi Gras and Trip To Heaven recently. Her last run in the Camellia Stakes was not quite her best, but she was hampered late.
This is a very keenly contested race with chances to plenty of them. Snowdance is the standout class act – but Schippers and San Fermin could make it a big one for the raiders from Gauteng. Mighty High and Celtic Sea are also worthy of inclusion. Go as wide as the budget allows!