Do Good Horses Plot Their Own Courses?

Make It Snappy and Charles Dickens

The inaugural Hollywoodbets Kenilworth Summer Festival Of Racing has been blessed with a colt in a generation called Charles Dickens, and an emerging star filly in Dynasty’s swansong star, Make It Snappy.

It may be more than a coincidence that both these crack 3yo’s chose to challenge themselves in open company, before taking on the best of their own year.

Make It Snappy (Luyoal Mxotha in tyellow) holds off Captain’s Ransom (Fourie) and Silver Darling (Van Niekerk) in a thriller (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

Tony Mincione writes that anyone wondering if Brett Crawford’s young filly, the rated 85, was being over-faced in the Summer Bowl (a stepped handicap for Fillies and Mares which capped horses 110 and over at 62kgs) could stop wondering as Make It Snappy held off, and then went away from a crack field at 14/1.

Emerging at a pushed Merit Rating of only 100, a rating which through the vagaries of our handicappers, looked to have left out the 14 points for WFA.  A proper rating of 114 would have given the public a heads up that 16/1 was too big for the WSB Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas.  They did warn us and the rest is history.

The Charles Dickens story is similar, albeit even more impressive.  Unbeaten in 4 races from 1000m to 1400m it was possible to think all this brilliance may be all speed.   The Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas was clearly the goal in October, and everyone assumed the Gr2 Cape Punters Cup (the old Selangor Cup) would be the normal path type would follow

Interestingly, Candice Bass-Robinson decided to take Charles Dickens into an Allowance Plate giving weight to highly rated older horses and 9kgs to the only other 3yo.

Quite exposed by now, Charles Dickens started a freakish 9/20 and then handed out what can only be called a master class at the ratings.  Just watching the race one knew the numbers would be off the chart, give or take the stifling policy.

Bernard Fayd’herbe drives Al Muthana out to beat Charles Dickens (Aldo Domeyer) in an exciting climax to the L’Ormarins King’s Plate (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

Our friendly handicappers have limited tools but they do get to pick the line, and in this case they went from finisher to finisher and (arithmetically speaking) picked 5yo All Lit Up (an MR76) beaten 5kgs and 9 lengths to arrive at 76 + 23 (for lengths) + 10 (weight given) + 12 (WFA) = 121, the lowest possible rating they could give.

The next worse line would make the winner 124, and the next worst (last placed 3yo) would make Charles Dickens 128.

The second and third horses, Russian Rock and Fifty Fiver, as the line would have made Charles Dickens 138 plus.

That explains the 9/20 for the Gr1 Cape Hollywoodbets Guineas and the 4.25 L display of absolute horsepower dished out to 15 runners spread back as far as 26 lengths that day.

The story for both star 3yo’s continued as they outstripped their own generation and moved on to open Grade 1 races on Saturday in the Cartier Paddock Stakes (WFA) and the L’Ormarins King’s Plate (WFA).

Make It Snappy showed herself equal to the likes of SA Champion filly Captain’s Ransom, herself a star of a generation, Silver Darling, Hollywoodbets Durban July winner Sparkling Water, last season’s champion Rain In Holland, and dual Gr2 stayer Marina.  Galloping to the lead and working, Make It Snappy made the crack field follow, and as is her trademark now, she never stopped running through the line with what can only be described as power and finishing grit.

In the King’s Plate, Charles Dickens was surrounded in the running by Al Muthana Kommetdieding and Jet Dark, all with their eyes on the 3YO.  Into the straight no one waited and Charles Dickens cut through the field going past them all.

Off camera Al Muthana, with a new lease on life (and with a record one 1-all against Jet Dark) took the same route Charles Dickens had previously followed in the Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas and the Australian import showed the best around what a tough horse he is.

His jockey got a R40 000 fine for the hard ride, but one wonders what he was to do as his horse ranged up the outside with victory in his grasp with only strides left to ‘not stop’.

Charles Dickens though, the part hero of this story, beat the two highest rated horses in South Africa, hit what was the front of his side of the track coming from second last and 10 lengths back, and was everything but a winner.

We can only wonder if these champions chose alternative routes to the classics, and then the championships, as their trainers thought outside the box, or if it was just a coincidence.   They chose to leave their own generation early and risk high handicap ratings.

Perhaps very good horses just make their own way when they are sitting in positions to make history?

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