Hawwaam and subsequent local Gr1 and Australian stakes winner Yulong Prince are the two most recent winners of the R200 000 Gr3 Tony Ruffel Stakes. That attests to the quality produced by the 3yo feature.
The scratchings of Alibi Guy, Leopold and Bohica have reduced the field to just seven run runners.
A 3yo conditions race with penalties for wins and graded race victories, the SP top-rated is the paperweighted Gary Alexander filly Gaian Glory who looks nicely in off her 50,5kg mark.
History is also in her favour as demonstrated by Mike de Kock’s successful tactical move to run Ektifaa with her 2,5kg sex discount against the males in the 2016 renewal.
Gaian Glory has proven consistent and looked a winner in the Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup until run over late by the diminutive Spiritofthegroove.
Last season’s sensational Gr1 Premiers Champion Stakes winner Got The Greenlight has his first run as a 3yo and returns from a 23 week break. The son of Gimmethegreenlight looks top class but his topweight of 60kgs – giving from 5kgs to 9,5kgs away to all and sundry – and his ring rustiness, could be a dealbreaker. Trainer Joey Soma says his Gr1 winner has had an interrupted preparation, but that he is hoping that his class will get him through
The first of the Sean Tarry duo, the obviously very smart Ikigai gets 7kgs from Got The Greenlight and strips a fit horse. He beat subsequent Grand Heritage winner Riverstown at level weights last time and looks ready to take his chances in the higher leagues.
It would be folly to discount any Paul Peter – Warren Kennedy runner but John Hancock was beaten close on six lengths in the Dingaans after failing to show from his unfavourable draw. The son of Toreador enjoys a 5kg swing for a 3,50 length beating last term by Got The Greenlight and now has the opportunity to show his mettle.
Johnny Hero is another that will need to up his game to challenge.
Recent maiden winner Valetorio won going away last time and steps up from the sprints at his fourth start. The trainer-jockey combination have a habit of proving the skeptics wrong!
The recently gelded Westlife looks solidly held by John Hancock on his last start and even with the advantage of the pole position draw would be a surprise winner.
While the weights suggest Gaian Glory is the right one, Ikigai and Got The Greenlight could prove their progressive ability.