The 3yo speedsters clash in Sunday’s R150 000 Non-Black Type Durban Dash. The recent Betting World Oaks winning combination of Charles Laird and Anton Marcus hold a strong hand in the 1100m contest with the Summerhill Stud bred Kahal filly Pej, whose recent collateral to Friday’s Gr2 Post Merchants winner Varikate is looking decidedly attractive.
This status of this weekend’s headline feature pales in comparison to the recent fare dished up countrywide, but the race itself looks seriously competitive and should provide for a nailbiting contest. It was formerly a leg of the innovative and now redundant Var Speed Series, and it is strange to note that not a single product of our great speed stallion lines up in the 2014 renewal.
Range Of Weight
The race is open to all 3-year-old horses and the weights are framed and allocated within merit rating ranges as follows:
Benchmark at 58,0 kg = MR 95 to 99
Benchmark at 56,0 kg = MR 90 to 94
Benchmark at 54,0 kg = MR 85 to 89
Benchmark at 52,0 kg = MR 80 to 84
Benchmark at 51,0 kg = 75 to 79
The fillies get a 1kg sex allowance and a window of opportunity would obviously exist for the astute studier when looking for scope at the top end of each merit rating range, based on the weight applicable in the range.
The smart and speedy filly Pej stands out after 4 excellent wins from just 8 starts.
Something of a Clairwood course specialist, where she has registered all of her wins, she was caught short last time at Greyville when going down a length to Snaith’s smart Varikate. She gave Varikate 2kgs.
At the time we had no idea how good that run was and that fact was confirmed in no uncertain terms in the Gr2 Post Merchants at Greyville on Friday evening when Varikate took the top sprinters on and made them look ordinary.
Pej has won over 1200m and could just be too fast for this lot with the wily Marcus in the saddle.
The Jet Master filly Olive Leaf will be ridden by S’manga Khumalo and looks to be very progressive if training track whispers are to be believed.
A winner of 2 of her 5 starts, we must be concerned at her respiratory noises indicated at her penultimate start when she still managed to win.
Both her victories have been over 1200m where she has shown oodles of pace and with a galloping 53kg weight burden, she will have to be kept in check.
Brett Crawford and Glen Hatt have enjoyed an excellent season so far and they team up with recent Clairwood winner, Gulf Storm.
He received weight but beat a classy field of older horses on 11 May, and had Sunday’s smart winner Midnight Run 2,25 lengths behind him, in receipt of 3kgs.
Gauteng raider Polar Palace has his first run in KZN.
The son of Kildonan has won 2 from 5 starts in lesser company with ease and he really could be anything. MJ Odendaal rides him for the first time.
Dennis Drier’s Casey Tibbs gelding Inspector Casey blotted his copybook when outgunned in a strong MR 97 Handicap at Scottsville, after showing good pace.
He beat Midnight Run in receipt of 2,5kgs at his penultimate start and we saw how well that consistent galloper won at Clairwood on Sunday.
Inspector Casey won 3 of his first 6 starts and will be a serious factor in this company.
Pot Of Gold
Alec Laird’s Aurum Pot looks well in courtesy of Bryan Claassen’s 2,5kg claim and the son of Judpot has some excellent sprint form. He gave the promising Trip Tease 2kgs and ran him to a short head over the Turffontein 1100m three runs back.
Louis Goosen’s temperamental One Man’s Dream came up at 25 to 1 at his last start when showing good pace and holding off the classy Anyday Anytime at the Vaal over 1200m. The son of Greys Inn has won three good races in a lightly raced career and has his first run at Clairwood.
Mike Miller’s Sheik’s Brashee will be ridden by Anthony Delpech for the first time and was a runaway winner of his last start in a lower rated handicap.
He ran 3,50 lengths behind Post Merchants third placed Eddie Sweat at his penultimate start and looks very capable of placing from his favourable outside draw.
The Vaughan Marshall trained Bold Var obviously shows plenty at home as he has been backed at both his recent starts.
He had excuses at his penultimate start when bumped twice and finishing 9,60 lengths behind Eddie Sweat. He then ran wide at Greyville on the polytrack when again attracting money and fading to finish 3,70 lengths behind Charlie Trimble.
Justin Snaith’s Trippi filly Cape Sugarbird comes in handily weighted at the bottom of the scales and the combination of the national log leading trainer and jockey Grant Van Niekerk were victorious in Friday evening’s Gr2 Post Merchants.
She has won two races from seven starts and failed to show at her first KZN start when making a respiratory noise and fading to just under 3 lengths behind Centimes.
There is an abundance of natural speed as one would expect in a race of this nature. The outside draws at Clairwood down the straight have tended to be favourable.
Pej looks to have everything in her favour and she is selected to hold Gulf Storm and the very capable Inspector Casey.
But the likes of Polar Palace and Olive Leaf cannot be discounted.
What a race. Just don’t blink. It will be over, before you even knew it started.