Champions Cup – Plenty At Stake

Deo Juvente is out - Can Bela-Bela go out in a blaze of glory?

The R1 million Gr1 Champions Cup sets the stage for a grand season finale – and possibly some serious showboating for the Equus selection panel. After his July dream went pear-shaped, Justin Snaith will no doubt be harbouring aspirations of a sensational send-off for his star filly Bela-Bela. But the grey bombshell won’t have things her own way.

Captain America

Captain America – jockey has a plan

This conditions race is run at weight-for-age plus Gr1 penalties and has attracted a quality field that includes Vodacom Durban July winner Marinaresco, Brett Crawford’s superhero Captain America as well as two smart 3yo talents.

Crawford has two runners in the race, including the SP top-rated Sail South, who has run two top-class races since his 3 length third to Legal Eagle in the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate. He was under a half length behind Marinaresco in the Drill Hall Stakes and came on late for fourth and 2,50 lengths off stablemate Captain America in the Gold Challenge. Sail South meets the latter on 2kgs better terms but needs to prove that he is as effective at 1800m – a distance he tries for the first time on Saturday.  Interestingly, his dam won up to 2400m.

The smart Table Bay – won well against weaker last time

Joey Ramsden’s Table Bay is the first of only two 3yo’s in the race. The dual Gr3 winning son of champion sire Redoute’s Choice won well at his Scottsville prep beating Winter Prince and on his best form – he ran third behind William Longsword in the Cape Guineas – must have serious claims of bidding for his first Gr1 win in the hands of Anton Marcus.

Gold Challenge winner Captain America has enjoyed a good SA Champions Season with a close up fifth in the Drill Hall Stakes preceding his outstanding Gr1 mile rout. The Captain Al 6yo, the joint officially top-rated runner, is a relentless galloper who could follow up here and register a deserved third Gr1 strike.

Marinaresco (photo: Gold Circle)

Marinaresco – goes for a big double

Vodacom Durban July winner Marinaresco has drawn widest of all at 12 as he returns to defend his title. The son of Silvano is in prime form after winning the Drill Hall Stakes three runs back, and if we ignore his tactical flop in the Gold Challenge where he ran below par, he must rank as a serious candidate to register the double – if not off the boil after a tough July.

Tyrone Zackey’s Judicial returns to action after a 36 week break and was runner-up in this race behind Marinaresco last year. He does not look to have the fitness or match readiness to be competitive.

The champion filly Bela-Bela makes her swansong appearance here and bids to make it a fourth career Gr1 success. The daughter of Dynasty put in her most eyecatching showing yet when storming to a 3,75 lengths victory in the Garden Province Stakes on July day. Anthony Delpech’s war talk after that victory that she felt good enough to win the July itself can be confirmed with a massive run here. Include her in all bets.

It’s My Turn – worth another chance?

It’s My Turn found himself running very prominently in the July before fading out to eighth and 1,40 lengths off Marinaresco. The fact that Piere Strydom stays loyal to him and takes the ride again is a plus, but he is a kilo worse off with stablemate Black Arthur on the July run-ons.

The Australian-bred Brazuca has run three ordinary races and looks held on his July twelfth place finish, as well as his modest showing in the Gold Challenge prior to that.

The enigmatic Black Arthur gets another opportunity to resurrect a moderate season after running on for a not disgraced seventh behind Marinaresco in the July.  His third in the Cup Trial behind stablemate Elusive Silva and subsequent July Consolation winner Crowd Pleaser at his penultimate jump was a decent effort, but it may not be enough to suggest he is capable of winning this.

Matador Man – iimproving all the time

The lightly raced 3yo Matador Man won the KZN Breeders Million Mile last time and steps up to the 1800m for the first time in his career. He is nicely drawn at 1. While his acceleration was impressive over the mile last time against weaker – and he was not stopping – his breeding suggests potential stamina limitations.

Ten Gun Salute won the Betting World 1900 in good style at his penultimate start, but then failed to build on that when running tenth in the Durban July at his last start. He is worse off at the weights here with Marinaresco and it is difficult seeing him turn the tables.

Bela-Bela – a winning swansong appearance?

Can Bela-Bela go out in a blaze of glory, or will it be Marinaresco engraving his name on another Equus trophy?

The race doesn’t end there – Captain America enjoyed the Greyville conditions last time and he just doesn’t know when to raise the white flag. Ramsden and Marcus were raving about the virtues of Table Bay eight months ago. The Aussie could redeem his reputation. This should be a cracking race to launch the festival.

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