Former legend of the saddle Garth Puller is one of those rare species in the Western Cape that we call a ‘visiting trainer’. He saddles the classy Ice Machine in the R110 000 Jet Master Stakes at Kenilworth today and will be looking for a first winner in his former hometown.
This non black-type event is named in honour of the 1998 Guineas winner and current leading sire, Jet Master.
Puller was assistant to his brother Glen before opting to go on his own at the beginning of this season. He trains out of Clairwood Park and has brought a small string to Cape Town for the season.
Anton Marcus rides the Meaker-owned Ice Machine and it would be appropriate were the SA Champion jockey to ride a first winner for Garth in the Cape. It was, after all, Marcus who rode Puller’s first solo winner on the opening day of this season, when Foreign Gal won at Clairwood.
Ice Machine is a good looking Silvano gelding who has won 5 of his 11 starts and was deemed good enough by the astute horseman to have a tilt at the Green Point Stakes won in such fine style by Variety Club a month ago.
Ice Machine finished in seventh and 6,35 lengths behind our Horse Of The Year there, but his previous form was very smart indeed.
He looks handicapped to win this race and had run the very capable Whiteline Fever to 1,50 lengths at level weights at his penultimate start when not enjoying the going. He had thus also won 5 of his first 9 starts.
Whiteline Fever franked the form by going on to be beaten a whisker by De Kock’s Mujaarib in the Gr2 Charity Mile a month later and was then not disgraced when sixth and 2,75 lengths behind shock winner Wagner in the Gr1 Summer Cup.
Puller has another Meaker runner in the 6yo Ice Diamond in the race. Lightly weighted on 51kgs and ridden by his talented nephew Chris, the five-time winner has also had one Cape run. He was bumped when looking dangerous and finished fifth and 3,40 lengths off Brown Penny in an MR 94 Handicap over 1800m. Brown Penny subsequently ran a cracker in the GR Calulo Services Premier Trophy.
Glen Kotzen saddles yet another well-handicapped horse in the hard-knocking but seemingly unsound Fabiani. The son of Model Man ran on well for third in the Algoa Cup run at Fairview a month back, and if sound could challenge on these weight terms.
Of the rest, Mike Bass’s coupling of Hammie’s Dynasty and Shimmering Flame make some appeal. .
Hammie’s Dynasty has unfortunately drawn wide at 12, but is a powerhouse galloper who has the gate speed to overcome that drawback. A son of Dynasty, who loves to race handy, he was beaten just 1,30 lengths by Marshall Guineas hopeful Black Toga when giving away 2,5kgs at his last outing and is a fit horse.
His stablemate Shimmering Flame is no slouch as an eight-time winner, but is 7yo now and his younger opponents are preferred.
Lord Paramount and Martial Eagle will both represent value for place money, and may warrant inclusion in larger Pick 6’s.
But for us , it looks like a first Cape winner for The Head Waiter, and Ice Machine is the choice to hold Hammie’s Dynasty and Lord Paramount.