Gauteng Guineas: Link Man In Class Of His Own

The Champion 2yo of 2010 is still the best

Gr2 Gauteng Guineas - Link Man beats Kavanagh by a length

Mike de Kock always looked to hold a powerful hand in the Gauteng Guineas and took away almost three-quarters of the million rand stake on offer when stable companions Link Man and Kavanagh captured the first two places, writes Matthew Lips.

Link Man had the best chance of winning according to handicappers’ assessments and was sent out as the 2/1 favourite for the opening leg of the SASCOC Triple Crown over 1600m on the Turffontein standside course on Saturday.  Link Man had left the distinct impression that he would see out the mile after running out an easy winner of a Gr 3 over 1450m on the inner track three weeks earlier, but he was facing plenty of opposition in the form of his stable companions Kavanagh and Perana, both of whom had more than their share of supporters.  Most fancied of the non-De Kock runners was Ormond Ferraris’ Snowdon, who was strongly supported from an ante-post call of 10./1 to go off as an 11/2 chance.

The ground was soft after plenty of rain earlier in the week, but there was no shortage of early pace and it was Western Front who went off to show the way at a decent clip, with Good On You and Antious closest to him.  Snowdon and Link Man were next in line ahead of Shea Shea, with Kavanagh held up well off the pace and Perana amongst the backmarkers after being slow to jump.  Galileo’s Destiny was also waited with as his stable companions Western Front and Good On You continued to do the legwork until turning into the straight.

Snowdon was amongst the first to come forward as the frontrunners began to fade, having found a clear run up the inside rail, but Link Man was making good progress wider out with Kavanagh now storming into contention as well.  Snowdon was unable to go on with his effort and from 200m out the Guineas was something of a match race between two De Kock colts.  Link Man had secured first run, and although Kavanagh loomed up large wider out the former always appeared to have his measure and edged away again close home to win by 1.25 lengths under Anthony Delpech.  Kavanagh came out clear second best, but once again he appeared to be just found wanting at the end of a 1600m race and he reinforced the widely-held view that he is at his very best around 1400m.

Even so, Kavanagh saw out the mile well enough to finish one length in front of third placed Galileo’s Destiny, who was running on stoutly at the line and who will surely enjoy the extra 200m of the next round of the Triple Crown, the Gr 1 SA Classic on March 26th. Snowdon had every chance before he finished 2.5 lengths behind Galileo’s Destiny in fourth and quite simply didn’t look to be as good as the three that beat him.  Perana was never sighted before he finished seventh, six lengths behind the winner.  He will certainly benefit from going back over more ground, although it could be argued that he showed a worrying absence of enthusiasm in the early stages of this race especially and he might not be the most straight forward of horses.

It is debatable whether Link Man will want to go much further than 1600m, although he may just about get 1800m.  He seems to travel well in his races, and can produce a fine turn of foot when asked, so there is a chance that he can be switched off well enough to see out a bit more ground than the Guineas mile.   His stamina cannot be taken for granted if he does take his chance in the Classic, though, and a somewhat different outcome to the one we saw on Saturday could easily be in the pipeline.

Link Man began his career in KZN with Dennis Drier, for whom he won the Gr 1 Gold Medallion over 1200m in his final appearance as a two-year-old before transferring to De Kock for the current term.  He is from the second crop of Danehill stallion Toreador, who never won a Stakes race but who went very close to winning at Gr 1 level when also trained by Mike de Kock.  Link Man is the second foal and first winner of Among Men mare Western Smoke, who failed to win from four starts.  Owned by members of the Tawny Syndicate who bred him, he has won five times from eight starts and earned R1 276 875.

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Gauteng Guineas (SAf-G2) (2/26)

Turffontein, South Africa, February 26, R1 million, 1600m, turf, good, 1.37.71 (CR 1.35.44).

LINK MAN (SAF), 58.0, b c 3, Toreador (IRE) – Western Smoke (SAF) by Among Men. Owner L M Nestadt, G L Blank and G Z Burg; breeder Tawny Syndicate (SAF); trainer M F de Kock; jockey A Delpech (625.000)

Kavanagh (SAF), 58.0, b c 3, Tiger Ridge – Quaestio by Seeking The Gold

Galileo’s Destiny (NZ), 58.0, b c 3, Galileo (IRE) – Destined (GB) by Danehill

Margins: 1¼, 1, 2½

Also ran: Snowdon (SAF) 58.0, Roman Wall (SAF) 58.0, Shea Shea (SAF) 58.0, Perana (AUS) 58.0, Approachable (SAF) 58.0, Western Front (SAF) 58.0, Drum Master (SAF) 58.0, The Plunderer (SAF) 58.0, Good On You (SAF) 58.0, Antious (ARG) 58.0

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