The R120 000 Listed Jockey Club Stakes to be run over 2000m at Fairview on Friday has attracted a maximum field of sixteen, split evenly between the locals and raiding Capetonians. The classy and vastly improved Cash Register would have been an automatic first choice for an away win, but for the minor worry of an awful draw.
Phumelela took the initiative and a decision to move this eight-race programme from Arlington to Fairview as the track had apparently been hammered by rain in recent weeks. Something like nine meetings were scheduled there and with spring treatments in the pipeline, the decision to take the pressure off that track makes a lot of sense.
Glen Kotzen, with two runners, heads a visiting attack that includes Justin Snaith with a quartet of fillies, and Cape champion trainer Joey Ramsden and Brett Crawford with a runner apiece.
Snaith won the race last year with We Three, and it is probably quite misleading calling the young man a visitor, as he has an active and successful satellite yard in the Eastern Cape and all his four have run here previously.
What a slap in the face for Kotzen’s Cash Register, who travels the ten hours from her Paarl base to add a serious competitive edge and quality to the event, only to have to jump from the 16 gate. But that is the luck of the random draw, and when one analyses it rationally, Big City Life’s full sister could well still be good enough to overcome the obstacle and win this.
She is after all not the sort that needs to be out front and the promising Grant Van Niekerk knows her well enough by this time. He will have 700m of the Fairview back straight before commencing the turn, and if things aren’t going well, there is still an 800m run for home.
Van Niekerk has won three in a row on the mare, and that includes dazzling wins in the Listed Ladies Mile and most recently, the Gr3 Final Fling Stakes.She carries topweight here and one just has the feeling that even at 5 year of age, she may well be improving still after her earlier aches and pains and is still ahead of the handicapper.
Her stablemate Platinum Cat is well held on their last two efforts and last won ten months ago. She was not striding out in the Ladies Mile and never showed in the Final Fling. She appears to have her problems.
Trainer Gavin Smith has a powerful quartet headed by the very talented former Duncan Howells’ trained Dance To The Stars and the revitalised Fly Emirates.
Des Scott’s smashingly bred 6yo Dance To The Stars won the East Cape Paddock Stakes at her last outing when showing up prominently for much of the trip and staying on well to beat Dumani by a length. That was a great effort as Dance To The Stars showed herself to be an even better horse in KZN when ridden with restraint. She has won 6 from 28 starts and as she has never won over 2000m, Francois Herholdt may have to give her a chance on Friday. She is very capable and must be included.
Fly Emirates comes into the reckoning after her emphatic 10,75 length win in the non black-type Wedgewood Handicap run on slightly soft ground over 2400m at end July. This daughter of Jet Master has been something of a revelation since leaving the Bass yard in Cape Town a struggling one-time winner some eight months ago. Her six runs in the Eastern Cape have delivered three wins, a second and two thirds.
The high-riding Chippy Taylor, who bagged a huge price double last Friday in the Eastern Cape rides the very talented Milkwood Stud owned and bred Sammy Jo.
The 5y0 daughter of Dynasty ran second in this race last year and won the Ladies Bracelet in scintillating fashion in January. She does appear to enjoy the going on top and loves to run at the leaders late. She is a versatile sort having won from 1000m and as a former winner of the Listed East Cape Oaks over the course and distance, she could surprise. She jumps from a 2 draw and will not lack for a kind and patient ride from the saddle.
Smith’s longest shot will be the recent shock winner Light The Moon. The 6yo daughter of Victory Moon made her Eastern Cape debut a winning one in a lowly rated MR 74 Handicap. That was after an extended dry spell down in the Cape, and she has never shown the kind of ability required to win a race of this nature.
As already observed, Justin Snaith sent out last year’s winner, We Three. While the stable is not riding the crest of a wave at the moment, they always have to be included and the best of their quartet could be the vastly improved Jallad filly Alvilda, who gets the services of Felix Coetzee from a good draw.
Alvilda looked to be going nowhere fast after winning her maiden in October 2011 at Fairview over a mile.
She then hit a purple patch five months later with a 33-1 win in the Oaks Plate and followed up a month later with a sweeping win in the East Cape Oaks over Friday’s course and distance.That was after being bowled and bumped and she showed great resolution, earning herself a ticket down to Cape Town.
She ran an excellent second beaten 1,25 lengths by her stablemate Rush For John in the Winter Oaks and then ran a cracker of a third beaten 3 lengths by Cash Register in the Final Fling Stakes. They meet on the same weight terms here. The deciding factor between them could be the draw, as Alvilda ran from a 15 draw at Kenilworth and is much better off now, while Cash Register draws the short end of that stick here.
Flaming Dame jumps from the 14 draw and it may be possible that she prefers Arlington to this track. She won her penultimate start and then ran a fair 4 length fourth behind Crimson Glow at her last outing , when running on steadily from the midfield. She was withdrawn from her last outing with a rapped joint and has thus not run for close on 8 weeks. She could run into the places if fit and well.
The remaining Snaith two of Cause To Believe and Audrey Rose are both capable mares on their best day, but are probably looking forward to quieter careers in a paddock somewhere and have lost their better form.
Alan Greef sends out Illumiere and reserve runner Sylvan Wind.
The Australian-bred Illumiere is now a half kilo better off with Dance To The Stars after running 4,30 lengths behind her in their last meeting in the East Cape Paddock Stakes. While she has an international pedigree that will stand her in good stead in the next phase of her career, she is yet to win beyond 1800m and may struggle from an 18 draw.
Brandon Morgenrood rides the 6yo Rakeen mare Atair for Joey Ramsden. One would guess that she is on her way back from Durban to the Lammerskraal paddocks for stud duties and is stopping over in the Windy City in search of some black type.
Atair was scratched from the Wedgewood as a result of having insufficient recovery time after her fair last run in the Off To Stud Handicap at Scottsville. She ran a 4,15 length fourth to the capable Himalayan Hill at level weights and jumping from a good draw here, must have a place chance.
Mitch Wiese’s seven-time winning Inca’s Spirit is one of the best staying females in the Eastern Cape, but would probably have ideally needed another 400m to have been a serious threat in this event. Jockey Wayne Agrella knows her very well though, and it would not surprise us to see her running into the money.
Brett Crawford’s Respectable Lady was running on when finishing 4,30 lengths behind Cash Register at level weights in the Final Fling Stakes. She is 1,5kgs better off with Kotzen’s topweight here, but it is difficult to imagine her reversing things with the younger mare. No jockey was declared at time of going to press, and one would have thought that Karis Teetan could have ridden her rather than Yvette Bremner’s Rozelana – if he felt that she was a runner.
Why would Teetan opt for Rozelana? Her recent form is not impressive at first consideration, but she is a better prospect over this sort of ground. She has won 6 from 46 and is no slouch. Her well-being and enthusiasm for racing was shown at her penultimate start when she flew late for a 1,50 length third to Hurricane Katrina in the East Cape Breeders – that was a great effort over 1200m!
Tara Laing has made an early impact as a new lady trainer down in these parts, and her Western Winter mare Crimson Glow won over the course and distance at her penultimate start. She ran a shocker last time when not acting in the soft going, and her trainer will be hoping that the rain stays away – not something than can be guaranteed with any measure of confidence at this point.
We are siding with Cash Register to record her fourth straight victory if things go just half her way from that draw. She could be too strong for Alvilda and Dance To The Stars, while value punters may want to include Sammy Jo as a nice kicker for the quartets. But there are a few others who could be included in combinations – and a lack of confidence in Cash Register may have punters dashing for cover – rather than the cash.