Trainer Charles Laird is something of an icon in the land of the Scottsville Gr1 speed legends. Today he bids for his fourth straight win in the R1 million Gr1 Tsogo Sun Sprint. He returns with last year’s champion Normanz, who also puts super-sire Var in line for a hat-trick in this prestigious speed contest.
Laird has enjoyed multiple Gr1 successes at South Africa’s premier speed raceday over the years and he boxes on – albeit with a smaller string these days.
As a 3yo last term, Normanz caused a minor upset at 16-1 with a galloping weight in the hands of Athandiwe Mgudlwa to beat the current Dubai-based Red Ray – and while that was his last win, it would be folly disregarding him in the hands of Anton Marcus.
The geldng failed to fire when 10,60 lengths behind Alboran Sea in the Computaform Sprint and prior to that he ran a fair third behind the smart Tevez in a Conditions Plate at Kenilworth.
He carries a little more pudding this time round and has had his problems at the starting stalls – but has been schooled and could be ready to bounce back to best.
The high-class lightly raced 4yo Captain Of All carries topweight and is a top sprinter.
He beat Willow Magic a length as a 2yo on this same raceday two years ago when winning the Gr1 Tsogo Sun Medallion and has since also won the Gr2 Diadem Stakes at Kenilworth.
He was narrowly beaten by Alboran Sea in the Cape Flying Championship when flying up late and then ran a commendable 4 length third behind the flying 3yo fillies Alboran Sea and Carry On Kate in the Computaform Sprint.
The Riverton Stud product looks ready to register a second career Gr1 win.
Brett Crawford’s Sail From Seattle gelding Gulf Storm made a dream start to his 2015 KZN Champions Season campaign when powering home to shade Moofeed in the Listed In Full Flight Handicap at this track over 100m shorter.
The Ascot Stud-bred 4yo has been jacked up by the handicapper and faces his major test on Saturday.
Mike De Kock’s Moofeed comes in on a galloping 54kgs and after running four consecutive seconds, nobody will be denying him a win.
He is another who was wacked by the handicapper after going down narrowly in the In Full Flight Handicap but looks capable of a big showing.
Kind Of Magic!
Piere Strydom has taken the ride on Sean Tarry’s talented Dubawi 4yo Willow Magic, a Gr1 winner who has been a touch out of sorts at his last few runs.
The fact that Strydom is riding him at 54kgs suggests he may be one for larger perms and he has a good Gr1 second as a 2yo over the course and distance to his credit – and meets his one length conqueror Captain Of All on 6kgs better terms! But that is ancient history.
This looks to be on the short side for Mike Bass’ Ashton Park, who ran a decent 3,50 third behind Ice Machine in the recent Drill Hall Stakes.
The Battersea Park gelding has shown his best form at 1400m – 1600m and this may be over before he has woken up.
Alec Laird’s very decent Greys Inn gelding Chekilli was ridden slightly differently in the Drill Hall Stakes and he stayed on well to just 0,75 lengths behind Ashton Park.
He was changing legs in this race last year when making no show, but looks to have matured as a 4yo and could produce the goods – over what is arguably his optimum trip.
The 3yo contingent is an interesting one.
Sean Tarry saddles Zambezi River and recent runaway Gr2 Camellia Stakes winner Bichette.
Zambezi River is a winner of 4 of his 7 starts and will probably feel that he is running riderless on the 52kg mark.
S’manga Khumalo rides this smart sprinter who should be ideally suited to Scottsville.
The Western Winter filly Bichette showed blitz pace to win the Gr2 Camellia Stakes on Champions Day but has been punished by the handicapper and has a very tough task here.
Now with Justin Snaith, the former Joey Ramsden-trained Kingvoldt flopped in the KRA Guineas behind then stablemate The Conglomerate – but has always looked more of a 1200m sort.
He jumps on the wide outside but could have the edge over a top contender like Gulf Storm at the weights on a February run down in the Cape.
Force Of Nature
Joey Ramsden’s Brutal Force has his first run in KZN after beating Castlethorpe 2,25 lengths in a conditions plate over the Kenilworth 1000m last time. The runner-up failed to confirm that recently over more ground but there is little to choose between Brutal Force and Zambezi River.
The second string to the Var bow and hopes of a hat-trick is Dennis Drier’s Generalissimo.
He steps up into the Gr1 league after accounting for Varlo last time and as a classy course and distance winner, he looks a decent prospect on the 52 kgs mark.
Out Of Sorts
The second of the Justin Snaith runners is the Dynasty gelding Daring Dave.
Earmarked as a decent top division sprinter, he has disappointed at his last two starts and needs to find his earlier better form.
He did spread a shoe last time on his return run and failed to fire when 11.25 lengths off Gulf Storm.
That is hardly a decent Gr1 prep run.
Mike Miller-trained Sheik’s Brashee is a consistent sort and was hampered late in proceedings when 4,35 lengths behind Gulf Storm last time.
A course and distance winner, he enjoys a 4,5kg turnaround with Gulf Storm, but still looks outgunned in our books.
Craig Eudey’s Flyfirstclass will be ridden by last year’s winning jockey and somehow falls into the same category as Sheik’s Brashee. That said, he has shown flashes of decent ability but strikes one as unlikely winner against the classier speedsters.
He pulled up lame on the off-hind when finishing 8,50 lengths behind in the Gulf Storm race and might burgle a place as he appears to have the course and distance edge over Sheik’s Brashee.
Being a handicap, the race is wide open with chances to many.
Captain Of All represents the genuine proven class and together with his relatively unexposed stablemate Generalissimo gives Dennis Drier a powerful winning hand.
Willow Magic and Moofeed look best of the 4yo’s, with an outside shout for Normanz.
Amongst the 3yo’s, Zambezi River carries a paperweight by his standards and could be the joker in the pack!