Breeding to the best is generally a passport to horseracing’s Olympics, the Group feature race arena. This is illustrated by the dominance of Captain Al, Jet Master and Trippi in Saturday’s R200 000 Gr2 Choice Carriers Championship at Kenilworth, where eight of the thirteen runners are progeny of these top producers.
It is a given that there are no guarantees in this game. But it certainly helps, assuming your budget permits it of course, to stack the odds in your favour by avoiding the no-name ingredients and only using the best available. There are three other sires represented and Count Dubois, Silvano, Lake Coniston and Jallad have themselves produced plenty of winners over time too.
While the nagging unknown of match fitness clouds the issue in certain cases, this level weights contest provides punters with what looks a relatively straightforward obstacle – assuming we put our lives in the hands of the Handicapper. But he has gotten it wrong before.
The race is brightened considerably by the appearance of a serious big gun in the grey Captain Al filly, All Is Secret, who will be partnered by Anton Marcus.
Vaughan Marshal also trains Countess Of Rhynie and while the stable drew a blank last weekend, both warrant serious consideration.
Equus award winning champion juvenile filly All Is Secret is by far and away the top rated filly running off an MR of 100 and looks virtually tossed in at level weights. The Gr1 Alan Robertson and Thekwini Stakes winner has not run since Super Saturday, so her fitness is surely the only stumbling block to her successfully fulfilling her likely role as an odds-on favourite.
We saw last Sunday in the Cape Classic how Marshall’s Black Toga went up and down as he came under pressure late in the race, and thus some caution needs to be exercised before going in botts and all and bankering All Is Secret .
Countess Of Rhynie won 2 from 4 before being rested. She returned 6 months later and ran 6,20 lengths off La Patineuse in an MR 90 Fillies and Mares Handicap at Durbanville. That run should have brought her along and while only a winner over the sprints, her breeding suggests that she will go the trip.
It is the retired Highlands stallion Jallad’s daughter Murmering Sky who has caught the attention as a likely big runner here.
Hailing from the powerful Dennis Drier yard, who got their Cape campaign off to a storming start with Chave De Oura’s great win in the Cape Classic last Sunday, the Beck owned filly has won 2 of her 5 starts and looks to be on the upgrade.
Murmering Sky cruised clear to record her last win in a Juvenile Stakes over 1450m at Clairwood and beat subsequent winner Tappin’ The Stars by 4 lengths. Her fitness is obviously the one major concern though, but do not leave her out of any plans.
Glen Kotzen’s Jet Master filly Jet Aglow is held in very high regard by this top yard and has won 2 of her 4 starts, the last over this distance. That win was on soft going and she had the Bass runner Butterfly Girl well beaten 1,25 lengths behind her there. She should hold her again. In that race she also had the highly rated 3yo Star Jet(MR 90) 2,65 lengths behind her.
Jet Aglow looks a scopy sort with plenty of improvement still to come. She will also be ridden by a bang in-form jockey in Grant Van Niekerk who picked up a long-priced Gr3 win last weekend in Johannesburg.
Mike Bass despatches a duo of the promising Jet Master filly Butterfly Girl and Initimateconnection, who has drawn against the paint.
Butterfly Girl looks held by Jet Aglow, but showed nice maturity when winning her last start over the Durbanville 1400m. She really beat very little, but the mature manner of that effort indicates that she may well be equal to this stiffer test.
Intimateconnection has her third run this season, and has solid credits of places in the Cape Fillies Nursery and the Irridescence Stakes to her credit. She is another that looks well held by Jet Aglow though and will need to improve somewhat to have a chance.
The most tried and experienced filly in the race is Riaan Van Reenen’s Trippi filly Girl’s Best Friend, who improved dramatically with the blinkers fitted last time. She went down 1,50 lengths to the year older Lola Budd in a Fillies Handicap over the Kenilworth 1200m. Girl’s Best Friend was giving 1,5kgs to the winner.
She has unfortunately pulled a 13 draw here, which will not enhance her prospects. She has a very good fourth in the Winter Juvenile Stakes over the Kenilworth mile to her credit, and must have place prospects with the bang in-form Robert Kathi in the saddle.
Joey Ramsden is churning out the winners as the days grow longer and he is represented by a coupling of Trip Poker and the pacy Princess Salme.
Trip Poker is a beautiful daughter of Trippi who never showed when finishing 5,15 lengths behind in the Diana Stakes three weeks ago. She is however a course and distance winner who gets the blinkers for the first time and seems likely to bounce back to better.
Based on riding arrangements, Princess Salme may well be the stable elect. Ridden by Glen Hatt from a good draw, this chestnut daughter of Silvano showed promise on her debut when running a well-beaten second to her stablemate Experience Counts over the Kenilworth 1200m. She did not follow up when bumped and falling away at her next start, but then won at her third start over 1200m at Durbanville. She beat little of note, but won well.
Her next start was slightly disappointing, when running fifth to impressive runaway winner Petra over a mile at Kenilworth. She may be better over the 200m less here, and could boost the quartet dividend if things go her way.
Justin Snaith’s trio of Earth’s Orbit , Sunset Girl and recent maiden winner Count To Ten must be considered.
Earth’s Orbit, originally the ride of the indisposed Felix Coetzee, will be ridden by Muzi Yeni, who rode a winner for the Snaith team last weekend.
Captain Al’s daughter was scratched from the Diana Stakes as she was lame on the near-fore, but won 2 of 5 prior to that. At her last outing she carried a paperweight and beat the likes of fair sorts in the older Ocean’s Swift,the Strelitzia Stakes winner Valdivia as well as recent conqueror of Silvano’s Jet, Europe To Africa.
Earth’s Orbit meets some fair sorts at level weights and is poorly drawn, so this will amount to a serious test for her.
Another Snaith Captain Al is the twice course and distance winner Sunset Girl, who will be ridden by Gareth Wright. She looks to have the measure of Ramsden’s Princess Salme on their last meeting when she beat her by 0,70 lengths giving her 2 kgs and her maiden win was impressive as it was achieved from a 16 from 16 draw.
She followed that up with a win, before being outclassed in the Irridescence Stakes in early June, whereafter she was rested.
The lightly raced Count To Ten shed her maiden at her second run over the Kenilworth 1200m. She had subsequent winnersThat’s Our Girl and Rushintothewind well beaten there and if not needing this, could feature in the place money.
The Yogas Govender- trained Run Like Hell has her first run around the Kenilworth turn. She won her maiden at her second start over the Durbanville 1400m narrowly beating the moderate Katrushka. That one has failed to win in her subsequent two starts and even after a good debut effort, Run Like Hell is a difficult filly to assess. But the Govender yard is red-hot at the current time.
We have already noted that based on pure numbers, All Is Secret should win this rather easily.
But there are also practical realities to consider. These include the unknown factors of interim improvement, untested potential and match fitness. Throw in the in-form combinations, hot stables and luck in running, and suddenly the race becomes wide open.
We are going to buck the popular trend, by suggesting Murmering Sky may be good and fit enough to beat All Is Secret and Jet Aglow. Butterfly Girl and Run Like Hell appeal as value sorts.