With one possible exception, the cream of South Africa’s 2yo males go head to head in the R600 000 Gr1 Tsogo Sun Medallion at Scottsville on Saturday. In an intriguing contest, Sean Tarry’s SA Nursery winner Willow Magic and Charles Laird’s Normanz are narrowly selected. Or pick a number from 1 to 13.
Realistically speaking, we have enough on our plate unravelling what we have in front of us, without debating the absentees. Joey Ramsden’s brilliant Red Ray is one horse that springs to mind though and it appears that Jooste Racing Manager Derek Brugman has had his way as regards giving Scottsville a courteous miss.
It is unfortunate, as Red Ray would have been the proverbial cherry on the top here and a return match with Willow Magic would have been a possible sellout.
There is something in the mystique of anything Australian that brings out the competitive streak in us Saffers. It goes beyond the old ‘our continent is bigger than yours’ thing and while Willow Magic will be a popular choice with punters, the Australian bred will have a few patriots hanging on his tail.
Even by their own high standards, trainer Sean Tarry and jockey Piere Strydom are enjoying something of a dream season and they look to hold all the aces with the Dubawi colt, Willow Magic.
The emphatic winner of the Gr1 SA Nursery steps in here with what looks like the best credentials after an emphatic victory over Red Ray on Champions Day. That was the well bought Willow Magic’s second win from his 4 starts and his style of running handy and then kicking on should work very well at Scottsville.
There is a local hope that could stop the Aussie. Even if we do need Superman on our side! Avontuur, the home of Var and Oratorio, bred Charles Laird’s smart Var colt Normanz.
The Godolphin Barb winner has won 2 of his 3 outings and now steps into the big world for the first time. We know it was Laird’s intention to bring him to Scottsville for a look at the track, although it must be a worry that he travels for the first time ever on a raceday. All his starts have been at Clairwood. That said, Normanz is a superb specimen and another Var champion in the making.
Willow Magic and Normanz face some obviously promising sorts, and it is probably best to touch on the credentials of each of them. Some are still unexposed and could sneak up on us. Time (aka hindsight) is the defining factor when it comes to measuring juveniles, and next season we will know exactly how good this lot really are.
The Highlands Stud bred Ace Antonius is a son of Antonius Pius from the Vaughan Marshall yard. A winner on debut over the Kenilworth 1200m after the dogs had barked for three months, he opened his KZN campaign with a tame third behind Normanz in the Godolphin Barb. His last effort when going down narrowly over Saturday’s course and distance to the Mike Miller trained Colour Of Courage (an absentee we note!) in the Umkhomazi Stakes was a better try.
Advocate Altus Joubert bred Louis Goosen’s fascinatingly named Bah. The grey son of Daylami, named after the first word of a baby we believe, scored a runaway win at his second start over the Vaal 1200m. His debut was a moderate effort, but Mr Goosen will not be travelling for the bright lights of Pietermaritzburg.
Riverton Stud are represented by the Dennis Drier trained Captain Of All. The son of Captain Al was beaten by Kochka on debut, but then came out and slammed Apple Pie by five lengths at his second start. He is one of the Jooste runners, and as Marcus has gone with Normanz, one tends to prefer the Laird runner.
Klawervlei Stud bred the second Captain Al, Captain’s Reserve who is another of the Vaughan Marshall runners. He was an impressive course and distance winner on debut, and could be just about anything. Rosedene Stud bred the Alec Laird trained Chekilli, a son of Greys Inn. A runaway debut winner over the Vaal 1200m, he will be partnered by Kevin Shea, and is capable of a big run if travelling well.
Wilgerbosdrift Stud have had an outstanding feature season with Tiger Ridge, and his son Foyle hails from the Mike De Kock yard. He showed the appreciation for the 1450m when beating Principled Man in a sustained effort at Turffontein.
The interestingly named Hillbrow was bred by Yellow Star Stud and is a son of Right Approach, trained by Roy Magner. Hillbrow won at third time of asking when running handy and scoring a good win over the Vaal 1200m. He is another raider who hails from a stable who don’t travel for sightseeing.
Danika Stud’s Black Minnaloushe gelding Kochka is trained by the only lady trainer in the race, Alyson Wright. Kochka won at Scottsville over 1000m at the end of April at his only start when narrowly beating the well backed Captain Of All.
Welcome new trainer Robbie Hill! The Timen Stables owned and bred Peter Culture was Hill’s first juvenile winner two weeks ago (his second over all) when running on w ell at his third outing over 1000m at Clairwood. Leading Eastern Cape breeders Milkwood Stud are onto a winner in Sail From Seattle and Corne Spies brings the speed stallion’s son Tommy Gun down from Gauteng.
He has his fourth run and was beaten six lengths by Willow Magic when third in the SA Nursery, and looks held on that. His stablemate Velvet Verona is a Highlands Stud bred son of the retired icon, National Assembly. Velvet Verona scored a runaway win on the sand at his second outing, and after being backed when unplaced on debut in the Umkhomazi Stakes, is very difficult to assess.
Take Your Pick
Willow Magic is obviously top class and the speedy import will be a major factor here. But he will have to bring his A game to town to hold Normanz. Charles Laird’s colt looks to be showing all the dream signs. Laird versus Tarry. Marcus versus Strydom. The unknown of the opposition and the vagaries of Scottsville. What a race! Waltzing Matilda or Africa? Follow your heart!