Bass Looks Best

Gr1 Champions Cup - Greyville, Saturday

Chesalon – Ready to register first Gr1 victory

Trainer Mike Bass has not tasted Gr1 Champions Cup glory since African Appeal won a tight finish in 2007, when the race was still run at Clairwood.
It may be the same race, but it is quite a different ball-game at the tighter city track of Greyville. Gandolph, as Bass is affectionately known in some quarters, may have a trump card in the smart son of Fort Wood, Chesalon.

The gelding ran a cracker when looking a winner inside the final 300m of the Vodacom Durban July, and looks overdue for a first Gr1 prize.
Bass has had a fair season and he currently holds fifth position on the national trainer’s log with just over R8,2 million in stake monies. He sends out a three way coupling in the R700 000 Gr1 Champions Cup, and Chesalon looks his major hope on a supremely competitive Super Saturday.

Solo Traveller comes in under sufferance, but is on his way back to his best form

Australian Rules
Jeff Lloyd flew out from Down Under to partner Chesalon in the Gr1 Vodacom Durban July and 300m from home the plans and dreams of his connections looked to be all coming together very sweetly as the shocking pink and black silks ghosted up on the wide outside. But that’s exactly when the wheels came off and he started hanging badly. This required some quick evasive corrective action by Lloyd and the gelding miraculously held on for third and just over a length off Pomodoro.
The Premier’s Trophy winner is obviously not the soundest of horses but has three smart Champions Season efforts to his credit. He has run on and stayed on well in all of the Drill Hall Stakes, the Greyville 1900 and his great July effort. His mother Sarabande, trained in her racing career by Joey Ramsden, was a lion-hearted fighter and Chesalon has obviously inherited dimensions of her fine character. He is our first choice in a competitive line-up.
His stablemate English Garden went into the July off a fast-finishing third behind Gold Onyx in the Cup Trial, but did not flatter in the big race finishing in midfield after running on steadily down the inside rail. He jumps from a 2 draw with Karl Neisius up, and could run a place if all goes well.

Weighty Wonder
The third of the Bass challengers is the enigmatic Castlethorpe, who is technically the best-weighted runner here. He is fast running out of excuses and chances though and he was not persevered with and finished a tailed off last in the July. He came up coughing after the race and the signs were there when he blew in the betting. Maybe all was not well going into the race? Assuming that was not his run, after his good second in the Gold Challenge, then he is a horse that has it all to prove here, but jockey choices indicate that he may have had his time in the ring.

Castlethorpe, is technically the best-weighted runner, but jockey choices indicate that he may have had his time in the ring

Mike De Kock’s Solo Traveller comes in under sufferance, but the Western Winter gelding is slowly edging back to his best form after an impressive finish to get within 1,35 lengths of Pomodoro in the July. He gets the blinkers fitted for the first time to hopefully help him to take a little more interest in the entire race, and jumps from a nice draw of 4. He should go very close.
Now with the Brett Crawford yard, after campaigning for Paul Gadsby in the early part of his career, Black Wing is bang in form after running a smart second to Knock On Wood in the KZN Breeders 1600. This is quite a step up in class though and he needs to put his best foot forward to have a serious chance.

Correct Approach
Sean Tarry has a three-pronged attack headed by the Right Approach gelding, Whiteline Fever.
A lightly raced 3 time winner, he was unlucky in the July where he encountered traffic problems from his own stablemate and eventual winner, Pomodoro, amongst others. Besides a 4,50 length fourth in the Daily News behind Jacskon, his best achievement is a Graduation Plate win at Greyville, and one hopes that this race has not come six months early for him.
Stablemate Gold Onyx also endured a troubled passage in the July and he did reasonably well in the circumstances, to finish 2,65 lengths behind. He gets the services of Piere Strydom at one of his favourite tracks, and is always worth leaning on for place money.
The aged Buy And Sell came out steaming in the Cup Trial and did everything but win after opening up a massive lead. He then put in a rather flat effort in a Listed race next time, and it is difficult seeing him threatening as he chalks up his half-century of appearances on Saturday.


Shhhhh! Pierre Jourdan set topweight for Gr1 Vodacom Durban July

Public favourite Pierre Jourdan’s shares fluctuate like emotions in a soap opera – one day he is a hero, the next zero. The son of Parade Leader can go with the best on his day though and he ran what we all felt was a solid July prep when cracking on for third to champion Variety Club in the Gold Challenge. He didn’t show in the July after bumping himself at the start and then just staying on as the leaders ran away in the short home straight, assisted by the solid tailwind. He finished in eleventh position and may encounter the same scenario in this shorter race.
There are quarters that will counter and argue that Pierre Jourdan will be cherry-ripe here in his third run after a rest and he comes in pretty well weighted for a big showing. Robbie Fradd rides him for the third time.
Greg Ennion’s Jet Master 3yo Master Plan finally got his act together with a smooth win in the Betting World KZN Derby last time out. He beat Tribal Dance by 2 lengths and we saw how smartly that one went on to win the Gr3 Schweppes 2200 in fine style.

Drill Hall
Tales Of Bravery has drawn wide at 13 and Vaughan Marshall’s game Kahal gelding has lost form after promising much with a smooth win the Drill Hall Stakes over 1400m at the beginning of May. He never showed when running in the last quartet in the July, and it may just be that he is more comfortable from 1400m to 600m.
Jockey Grant Van Niekerk and trainer Tyrone Zackey almost pulled off the shock of the century with Smanjemanje in the July, and they are represented by 5yo Galanthus, who, with all due respect, looks a touch outclassed here. That said, he did run champion mare Europa Point to a length at level weights in a slowly run Premier’s Champions Challenge at his penultimate start. And lest we forget that we summed up Smanjemanje in much the same dismissive manner prior to the July.
Joey Ramsden produced the upset 2009 Champions Cup winner Ivory Trail, who conquered champion Pocket Power in a shock result. The Englishman will probably not be expecting too much from his eight-time winning 5yo Lion In Winter. The son of Western Winter has not won in close on a year, although he did stay on steadily 3,05 lengths behind Gold Onyx in the Cup Trial, and is now 2,5kgs better off with that one. Ramsden is the master of bringing them back from nowhere and he is not in the habit of filling Gr1 fields for lunch tickets.

The final Gr1 race of the 2011/12 season looks set to produce a real thriller.
We are going with Mike Bass’ Chesalon to record his maiden Gr1 win at the expense of Whiteline Fever and Solo Traveller.


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