The R1 million Cartier Gr1 Paddock Stakes is South Africa’s most prestigious 1800m weight-for-age contest for the fairer sex. Today’s renewal sees Cape champion Justin Snaith bidding for his fourth straight success.
But the major-day powerhouse could see his record bid upstaged by some class opposition – headed by Brett Crawford’s 2018 Cape Fillies Guineas winner, Front And Centre, the Sporting Post Top Bet for today.
It would be mildly ironic if the Snaith four-timer would be halted by a daughter of Dynasty ridden by Anton Marcus, as it was another champion daughter of the deceased great sire ridden by the former champion jockey who started the victory streak in 2016 when the grey Bela-Bela beat Safe Harbour and Silver Mountain.
Fast forward to 2019, Front And Centre is the SP top-rated galloper and on a hat-trick from a favourable 2 draw, she has to be the horse to beat. The winner of the Diana Stakes at her first jump as a 4yo, Front And Centre followed up with an excellent prep victory last month and strips fit and ready to win her second Gr1 and record her seventh career victory.
KRA Fillies Guineas winner Santa Clara has run two reasonable races since failing to find the money in the Gr1 Garden Province Stakes last term. She looks held by both Silvano’s Pride and Front And Centre, but is not out of it if finding her best 3yo form.
Mike de Kock’s Yellowwood Handicap winner Queen Supreme has her first run in the Cape after a gutsy close-up fourth in the Gr1 Summer Cup. The Irish-bred Exceed And Excel daughter is six months behind the locals but has won 4 of her 6 starts in the manner of a really decent sort.
Heading the Snaith assault, the 2019 Gr1 Woolavington 2000 heroine Silvano’s Pride was not at her peak for the Victress Stakes where she stopped late to be beaten 3,5 lengths by Snapscan. She is 3kgs better off with the Kotzen’s improving 4yo.
Hers stablemate Miyabi Gold was caught a bit flat-footed by Snapscan in the Victress Stakes but enjoys a 2kgs swing at the weights and will strip fitter under joint topweight here. The classy daughter of Silvano choked up in this race last year.
The multiple stakes-placed Master Of My Fate 3yo Driving Miss Daisy came from lengths back to chase Missisippi Burning home in the Cape Fillies Guineas. On her 2yo form, that was no flash in the pan and she should enjoy the extra 200m.
Victress Stakes runaway winner Snapscan is in fine form this season and could be anything from the 1 draw with the red-hot Morne Winnaar in the saddle. She could well be the lurker in the pack and we know how the Oratorio progeny improve with age.
Third of the Snaith trio, and a dual local feature winner on the kinder going in the dark Cape winter, Platinum Class was reported not striding out when beaten 11,40 lengths by Snapscan in the Victress Stakes last time.
Ashaawes daughter Drama Queen looks very likely to enjoy the 1800m of the Kenilworth Summer Course and ran on steadily in the Cape Fillies Guineas when beaten just four lengths in fifth.
Glen Kotzen’s Castellano was well beaten behind Missisippi Burning in the Cape Fillies Guineas and now tries the 1800m for the first time.
While she is no clear-cut banker on the day, more so with the likes of Queen Supreme in the mix, Front And Centre is the proven local and must be ranked the filly to beat. Silvano’s Pride will be ready and fitter, while who knows how much scope Oratorio’s daughter Snapscan could yet have to show?