The Justin Snaith-trained Erik The Red has had tongues wagging in Cape Town as he reeled off four straight wins during the Cape summer season.
That form has held up quite well but he faces the acid test at Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Saturday, where he takes on most of the cream of the land’s two-year-old males in the Gr1 Golden Horse Medallion.
With the late scratching of Mike de Kock’s Australian-import Al Muthana, the door looks open to a straight shoot out between Justin Snaith and Dennis Drier.
The latter has an exceptional record in this race and has a strong hand again with Tempting Fate and Pray For Rain, first and second respectively in the recent Godolphin Barb Stakes on this course.
Stable jockey Sean Veale is aboard Tempting Fate whose form has held up and Drier could add another Gold Medallion to his bulging trophy cabinet.
Drier’s 21st century roll started with Link Man winning the Gold Medallion in 2010, followed by champion Val De Ra winning the SA Fillies Sprint in 2011.
Potent Power, Captain Of All, Guiness, Seventh Plain and Sand And Sea won the Gold Medallion in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 respectively, while present day Klawervlei sire Captain Of All won the Tsogo Sun Sprint in 2015.
In 2018, Sommerlied won the SA Fillies Sprint – the ninth Drier Gr1 at Hollywoodbets Scottsville this decade!
So ‘Uncle Den’ is clearly the man to follow, with his other Gr1 contender Cartel Captain – a son of another Drier speed bomb in Captain Of All – taking on 2019 defending champion Chimichuri Run in the Gr1 Golden Horse Sprint.
Sean Tarry has skipped the Allan Robertson Championship with Slalom Queen to take on males here. She finished second to Vernichey and ahead of Delta Queen and how these races pan out could give some indication as to the relative strengths of this year’s crop.
Captain Oupie broke the ice in KZN for Paul Reeves when winning first time out and that form has since been franked with second-placed Garrulous winning next time out.
Vaughan Marshall saddles two runners in Joseph Barry and winner on debut, No Laying Up in what should prove a fascinating contest.