Gr3 Tony Ruffel Stakes over 1450m at Turffontein (inside) on Saturday
With all the glitz and glamour of another thrilling J&B Met now behind us the main focus of attention this weekend switches to Gauteng. The Gr3 Tony Ruffel Stakes tops the bill at Turffontein on Saturday and with the likes of Link Man and Pierre Jourdan having won the event in recent years they’ll be plenty of interest, writes Steve Furnish.
The highest rated of the thirteen this time around is the Sean Tarry trained Pomodoro. This lightly raced son of Jet Master has been going from strength to strength since making his debut in August and after winning the Guineas Trial at Clairwood in October, he showed his class when fourth to the subsequent Gr1 Cape Guineas runner up Silver Flyer in the Gr2 Dingaans. His three wins have all been gained over further than they race here and he might ideally prefer a tad more ground. He did make the running in the Dingaans though, and advantageously drawn at this sharp circuit, today’s trip could well suit.
Trainer Sean Tarry’s bid doesn’t stop there though as he is also represented by both E-Jet and Heavy Metal. Indeed, the most lightly raced of the three E-Jet has done very little wrong. He was making steady headway at the finish when only beaten 2,6 lengths by Pomodoro in the Guineas Trial back in October and he did then win well when beating some very useful sorts in graduation company in his only subsequent start. E-Jet is 2,5kg better off at the weights with his stable companion here and on that alone, he must be a serious runner.
What is interesting here is that Robbie Fradd has been riding most of Sean’s better runners of late and he is aboard the lowest rated of the three, Heavy Metal. This son of Silvano impressed when winning his maiden over 1400m on the old course here in November and was then thought good enough to contest the Gr1 Cape Guineas. Heavy Metal finished well down field in that event, but he did have to ease 200m from home and is clearly better than that bare formline would suggest. He was clearly having a sprint up when only narrowly beaten over 1200m on his return to Gauteng last time out and could well improve here.
The runner that narrowly beat Heavy Metal in that novice event last time out was the Paul Matchett trained Americano. Having his first run out of the maidens in that latest start, this son of Western Winter quickened very nicely late and won fair and square. His two wins have both been gained over 1200m and having finished down field in his only outing to date over further one might have concerns about him getting today’s trip. Americano did take a bump and was reported as not striding out on the near fore in that event though and the manner in which he finished last time out would suggest that he will get the extra.
Yet to finish out of the first four, Gavin Van Zyl’s charge has been progressing very nicely. Third in the Gr3 Graham Beck Stakes over 1400m on the old course in November, Brooks-Club commands a very nice turn of foot on his day and he was finishing by far the best when only beaten 0,6 lengths in handicap company against older horses over today’s course and distance last time out. Highly regarded from day one, Brooks-Club gets Pierre Strydom in the saddle here and very nicely drawn in gate four, he could improve stacks.
As well as the flying Brooks-Club, trainer Gavin Van Zyl is also represented by the Bezrin colt Tandragee. Rarely out of the frame, Tandragee has steadily been progressing very nicely and he does go particularly well over today’s distance. He was beaten fair and square by Royal Ridge over today’s trip last time out though and the 3,5kg that he is better off with that one at the weights here might not be enough to enable him to turn the tables.
Mike De Kock’s charge won with authority when beating Tandragee last time out and he also impressed when winning his maiden in December. One has to question if the form of either of those races is stronger enough to win here, but this son of Tiger Ridge was clearly very highly regarded prior to a layoff as he made his debut in the Gr3 Protea Stakes. Royal Ridge was running on strongly in the closing stages of that event and finished a very creditable runner up to Delago Deluxe. A dark horse.
Is Royal Ridge the stable elect though? Stable jockey Anthony Delpech rode both Royal Ridge and Governor General last time out and he is aboard the latter. Governor General is rated two points lower than his stable companion by the official handicapper, but in our book he has been progressing very nicely with each outing. Further improvement looks sure to be forthcoming, but he is now taking a big step up in class here and having gained both of his successes in soft going one is not quite sure what to expect.
Alec Laird’s charge showed real promise as a juvenile last season and wound up that first campaign with a third placing in the prestigious Gr1 Golden Horseshoe over 1400m at Greyville. He was reported as lame on the near fore on his return from a three month break in October though and since then he has been unable to reproduce that form. He’s been beaten by others in this race in each of his last two starts and is perhaps best just watched for now.
Placed in both the Secretariat, and Sea Cottage Stakes this season, Tyrone Zackey’s charge has undoubtedly been the busiest of today’s runners in recent months. He’s yet to miss a place in the Quartet in eight starts and although he is now taking on stronger, he could make the frame again.
Above The Moon
The Victory Moon colt Above The Moon gained his only success to date over today’s trip. That was in a rather moderate maiden event though and since being stepped up in class he’s been comfortably beaten in both starts.
Since making a typically average debut back in July, The Duke has been showing steady improvement and he fully deserved his maiden win last time out. He won well, but that was his sixth racecourse appearance and in all honesty he didn’t bump the strongest of fields. He takes a major step up in class here and clearly faces a very stiff task.
A very honest performer, Tony’s Tipple is sure to give of his best. It did take him twelve starts to shed his maiden tag though and having been beaten in all three starts since, he cannot be seriously fancied here.
About The Pace
They usually set off at a fair clip over today’s trip and although there are no out and out frontrunners in the field there is enough speed in the race to ensure that that will be the case again here. Along with Brook-Club, Pomodoro is best in at the weights and already proven from the front, and perfectly drawn, he looks sure to fight it out. Brooks-Club commands a very nice turn of foot though and having shown his liking for the circuit when flying up late over today’s trip last time out, it is he who narrowly gets the vote.