Saturday’s Kenilworth racemeeting hosts the first Gr1 of the Cape Summer Season.
It is a quality programme peppered with Gr1 winners and sees the return to action and season first appearance of the likes of July hero Belgarion and Rainbow Bridge, as well as class Gauteng-based raiders Celtic Sea and Rivarine, amongst others.
For Milnerton-based Adam Marcus, it is a day that has delivered lifechanging moments in years past.
Our SPRINT Digital cover this week shows young Adam and his regular rider Craig Zackey enjoying a golden moment after the smashing Missisippi Burning’s victory in the 2019 R1 million World Sports Betting Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas.
It was a momentous occasion for Marcus, as the daughter of Captain Al was his first Gr1 winner.
Not bad going as he took out his trainer’s licence at the relatively tender age of 22, going on his own at 23, under the watchful guidance of his champion jockey Dad, Basil.
It was further proof that he had come of age.
In fact, this Guineas day has previously been a happy one for the young man – it was in 2016 that he saddled the much loved and sadly ill-fated Royal Badge for victory in the Gr3 Cape Summer Stayers Handicap.
On Saturday he returns to the well, and while recent KZN Breeders Champion Missisippi Burning runs in a minor race on the day, Adam’s major focus will be on Flower Alley’s daughter Princess Calla, who runs in the WSB Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas.
Princess Calla, who races in the now familiar Ferreira silks worn by last year’s winner, won the Gr2 Western Cape Fillies Championship over 1400m at Kenilworth at her last start.
She is again ridden by Craig Zackey and, while they have some serious hurdles to overcome, the double must be on the cards.
Princess Calla, who is reported by the Marcus team to be doing ‘exceptionally well’, is second favourite behind the Snaith’s Captain’s Ransom. She has run three times for two wins and a 3,30-length third behind Anything Goes and the fast ascending War Of Athena in the Gr1 Thekwini Stakes over 1600m at Hollywoodbets Greyville in August.
Adam told the Sporting Post that he respected the favourite, Captain’s Ransom.
“Even in receipt of weight, any 3yo who can beat Clouds Unfold must have plenty of ability! Captain’s Ransom is the only opponent that we don’t have a direct line of collateral with, but our Princess Calla ran a great third in the Gr1 Thekwini at Hollywoodbets Greyville and she will relish the longer run-in of the Kenilworth summer course,” added the Milnerton trainer.
He said that Missisippi Burning was being prepped for the Majorca and Paddock Stakes and was probably at 85% fitness for her prep run on Saturday.
“I made a mistake running her at Durbanville – the only two times she has been unplaced in her life were at the country course. But she is progressing nicely and ran a good race recently. She will be at her peak in January,” he assured us.
Suzette and Basie Viljoen have become anchor owners in the game and made a gallant attempt to win the WSB Gr1 Gauteng Summer Cup, courtesy of Zietsman Oosthuizen’s PE raider Atyaab, who ran a gallant sixth in the Highveld flagship event at the end of last month.
They get a big chance on Saturday to realise the dream and race Captain’s Ransom, the best handicapped filly in the classic.
Justin Snaith’s charge has won three of her four starts, including a breathtaking 0,30-length victory over Clouds Unfold in the Gr3 Diana Stakes over 1400m at Durbanville in October.
She is at least 4kg better weighted than any of her opponents and has been priced up favourite. Richard Fourie takes over from Joshwin Solomons.
There are two visitors in the line-up. Mike de Kock will be running Due Diligence with Gavin Lerena up while Sean Tarry saddles La Luvia, to be ridden by Lyle Hewitson.
After being withdrawn with a skin allergy at his last scheduled start, Rainbow Bridge has been priced up as the 14-10 favourite for the WSB Gr2 Green Point Stakes to be run over 1600m. This race is a watershed prep for the Gr1’s that lie ahead.
Eric Sands’ charge was scratched from his planned warm-up run last month so he will go into the race without a prep run. Luke Ferraris has been given the ride.
Cape Met entry and Vodacom Durban July winner Belgarion returns for his first outing since the July and will have Fourie up. The only other runners quoted in single figures are Cirillo and Clouds Unfold.
This is the race that produced that humdinger finish in 2018. We look forward to Saturday!