With both the Guineas and the Drill Hall Stakes topping the bill on Saturday the Natal season gets off to a flying start. The Gr2 Fillies Guineas is first up and with thirteen very promising 3yo’s going to post it looks to be a very interesting affair, writes Steve Furnish.
Brett Crawford has one of the joint highest rated runners in the KRA Guiineas contested by the boys, and if the official handicapper has gotten his sums right this up and coming trainer could complete a memorable double with Thunder Dance here.
Rated three points higher than her nearest opponent in the race, this daughter of Jet Master has won four of her six starts since making a typically average debut last May. Indeed, her only defeats have come in the Gr2 Fillies Championship and Gr2 Cape Fillies Guineas where she was beaten by the champion filly Princess Victoria. Thunder Dance won the prestigious Gr1 Paddock Stakes over 1800m in her latest start and although in truth that race was run at a farcical pace, she did nonetheless beat last season’s winner of this race Beach Beauty. Clearly well suited by today’s distance, Thunder Dance has shown improvement with each outing in our book and if at her peak following her three month break, she should be right there again.
The highest rated of trainer Dennis Drier’s two runners is the lightly raced Bambina Stripes. Known for not pushing his youngsters in their first outing, Bambina Stripes won her two starts in the Western Cape well after making a promising debut. She will have no doubt needed the outing when a runner up to Felix The Cat in a conditions event over 1400m on her return from a two month break in March, but she did then show her class when winning the Gr1 SA Fillies Classic over 1800 at Turffontein last time out. Bambina Stripes is unbeaten over today’s distance and now having her third run after the rest, she looks sure to fight it out.
Having only managed to win a novice event in eight starts after shedding her maiden tag, stable companion Miss Ipanema would look to have little chance at first glance. That doesn’t quite tell the whole story though as she was finishing best of all when fourth to Princess Victoria in the Fillies Championship, and she was only a length and a quarter behind Trinity House in the Gr3 Umzimkhulu Stakes over 1400m last time out. On those efforts she is not without a chance here.
Felix The Cat
After shedding her maiden tag at the third attempt last June, the Black Minnaloushe filly Felix The Cat was then pitched in at the deep end and in finishing a runner up in both the Gr1 Golden Slipper and Gr1 Thekwini Stakes she proved herself to be up there with the best of her generation. She ran on well when winning her first outing of this campaign, but she was then reported as lame on the off fore when comfortably beaten next time out. She was clearly coming to hand again nicely when beating the subsequent SA Fillies Classic winner Bambina Stripes in a conditions event last time out and she too would have taken her place in that race had she not have sprained her off fore joint. Felix The Cat goes well at this circuit and if all is now well in this her third run after the rest, she has to be a runner.
Formerly with Paul Matchett, Hidden Beauty was also thought good enough to contest both the Golden Slipper and Thekwini Stakes last season. She was well beaten in both of those events, but since returning from a four month break in November she has undoubtedly improved considerably. Her three wins have all been gained over the minimum distance on sand, but having finished third in the Gauteng Fillies Guineas and a runner up in the Gr1 Empress Club Stakes (both over today’s distance) in her two starts on turf, she is now clearly up there with the best. This daughter of Victory Moon was a little unlucky in the Guineas as she had to switch out for a run at a crucial stage, and was beaten less than half a length. She showed real guts and determination when staying on for second after making the running in the Empress Club and if adopting the same tactics from an advantageous draw here, she could take some pegging back.
Reason To Believe
The Captain Al filly Reason To Believe has shown promise in winning four of her fifteen starts and she did put in a particularly good effort when only beaten a length and a half by Trinity House over 1400m last time out. Beaten after holding every chance in that latest outing though, Reason To Believe found the going a bit tough when stepping up in class to contest the Gr3 Flamboyant Stakes in her only previous outing over 1600m and although the official handicapper’s ratings suggest that she has a shout here, her presence in the finish seems unlikely.
One of two runners from the stable of champion trainer Mike De Kock, Amanee won three of her six starts as a juvenile last year and wound up a tremendous first season with victory in the prestigious Gr1 Thekwini Stakes over today’s course and distance. What is interesting here, is that that success, along with her other two wins, were all gained on soft going and she was unable to finish better than fifth in her three outings on good ground. This daughter of Pivotal was off the track for eight months after her win in the Thekwini and although two of her subsequent outings have been in soft going, she has again failed to finish better than fifth in three starts. The weatherman is suggesting that the going will be good here!
Stable Jockey Anthony Delpech rides the lightly raced Tajmeel and taking everything into account she does appear to be the stable elect. A daughter of Nadeem out of the Alhaarth mare Asaleeb, the lightly raced Tajmeel has done absolutely nothing wrong. Indeed, since being reported as making a respiratory noise when totally unfancied on debut, Tajmeel has won with authority in both starts. Her two wins have both been gained over 1600m and she was particularly impressive when running on well from a poor draw to win over today’s course and distance just two weeks ago. She could be anything. Watch the betting.
Dean Kannemeyer’s charge has more often than not been seen out over further in her most recent starts, but she has gained two of her four wins over 1600m and significantly, she did win her only previous outing over today’s course and distance when picking up a progress event here after a three month break last time out. She was finishing as well as anything when running on from the rear to take fifth position, just 3,6 lengths off Princess Victoria, in the Cape Fillies Guineas and a reproduction of that effort must make her a runner here.
Sparingly raced since making a winning debut eleven months ago, the Spectrum filly Beloved Betty commands a fair turn of foot on her day as she showed when landing a MR84 Handicap over today’s distance at Kenilworth in November. She again finished best of all when only beaten two lengths in the listed Jamaica Handicap won by Frequent Flyer. She will have needed the run when only beaten a length and a quarter by Trinity House over shorter last time out and although she is now considerably up in class, she could improve stacks here.
Yet to finish better than second in five starts beyond 1450m, Kom Naidoo’s charge hasn’t won anything greater than a MR74 Handicap. She’s well held on her two recent feature race efforts in Gauteng and although she did run a fair sixth to Trinity House in the Umzimkhulu Stakes over 1400m last time out, others in this race finished ahead of her.
Unlikely to fare any better than Awesome Beauty is her stable companion Top Talent. She’s shown steady improvement since shedding her maiden tag in December and both of her wins have been gained over this trip. Her efforts thus far though have only earned her the lowest merit rating in the field and drawn widest of all to boot, she faces a mammoth task.
Razzle Dazzle Rose
After being comfortably beaten by a fairly moderate handicapper in her post maiden start it was not surprising to see Yogis Govender’s charge set off at 55/1 when contesting the Gr1 Cape Fillies Guineas next time out. She was only beaten 6,1 lengths in that event though, and that despite losing four lengths at the start. She again lost a length when winning over today’s distance next time out and the turn of foot that she produced over the final 200m was very impressive. It was a similar story when she returned from a two and a half month break to win over today’s course and distance just two weeks ago. Now taking another big leap up in class, this daughter of Jet Master’s tendency to be slow into stride could prove costly here. Razzle Dazzle Rose is clearly very talented though and in the coming months she can be expected to improve plenty. The dark horse.
About The Pace
This tight Greyville circuit lends itself to strong frontrunners and with a fair amount of speed in the race here, the pace should be on. Hidden Beauty looks the most likely to be leading the assault turning for home and fighting fit at the moment, she certainly won’t be stopping over the final 400m. There could well be a stampede right behind her as this race really does look wide open. Razzle Dazzle Rose must be a roughie with a chance, but on the day I’m going to side with the stable that won it last year, Bambina Stripes.