Gr2 Gold Circle Oaks over 2400m at Clairwood on Sunday
Princess Of Light is a proven stayer with decent Gauteng form and there is plenty to like about her chances of posting a first career Stakes success when she takes on nine rivals in the Gold Circle Oaks over 2400m at Clairwood on Sunday. This is by no means a strong race by Gr 2 standards and Princess Of Light is the top rated runner off a mark of 99, writes MATTHEW LIPS.
A half sister to last season’s Gr 2 SA Oaks winner Arcola, Princess Of Light is clearly cut from a similar cloth despite being by speed sire Var and had the misfortune to encounter a rival of Igugu’s stature when she tried her luck in the latest renewal of that Turffontein 2450m classic in April. She set the pace before being resoundingly beaten by 5.75 lengths into second place, but she wasn’t stopping at the death and she still finished 6.5 lengths in front of third placed Ilha Grande. There is no real reason why Princess Of Light cannot beat Ilha Grande again, and Geoff Woodruff’s filly followed up her Oaks effort with a very good fourth when shouldering 60 kgs from a wide draw in a Listed handicap over 1600m on the Turffontein inner course late last month. This will be Princess Of Light’s first attempt around left-handed turns, but she looks the one to beat with Anton Marcus aboard.
Las Ramblas has consistent form, finishing an admittedly remote second behind Igugu in the Gr 1 SA Fillies Classic over 1800m at Turffontein in March and not running at all badly in two races since. She finished five lengths fifth behind Igugu in the Gr 1 Woolavington 2000 at Greyville before a decent effort behind The Mouseketeer in a restricted Feature over 1600m at this venue last week. This will be her first try at 2400m, but she seemed to be staying on quite well in the Fillies Classic and she is by no means without a chance even though she faces Princess Of Light on 2.5 kgs worse terms than in a handicap.
Ilha Grande seems to have her work cut out to reverse SA Oaks form with Princess Of Light, but she certainly must be respected for the places at least. Mike de Kock’s filly seems better than that effort anyway and ran on well when beating Princess Of Light in a Listed handicap over 2000m at Turffontein in April. That would make her a possible threat even though she faces her rival on 2 kgs worse terms now, but the SA Oaks could be interpreted to mean that Princess Of Light is the more effective of the pair over this sort of distance.
White Mischief goes well at Clairwood and is a dual winner on the course, including a narrow success over 2500m. Stamina is not an issue with her, and the second highest rated runner in this line-up does shape up as a possible challenger. She faded when 2.25 lengths further behind Las Ramblas in the Woolavington 2000m, but the 400m longer distance here could make a very real difference and a reversal of that form would come as no surprise. White Mischief has shown herself capable of racing from the front as well as from off the pace, so she can adapt to whichever way the race maps out, and she would not be a surprise winner by any means.
Margaret Court was making her local debut when she ran on well and beat Midnight Fox by 1.5 lengths over 1600m at Scottsville in May, but she takes a big step up in distance and is very much in uncharted territory. By sprinting sire Lake Coniston out of a mare whose sole career win came over 1400m, Margaret Court hardly has the pedigree of an obvious Oaks contender. It does say something that a trainer of Mike Bass’ stature is stepping her up to 2400m, but even if Margaret Court does see out the distance she will need considerable improvement on her exposed form to win off a mark of 88. Others do make greater appeal.
Isle Of Dogs
Isle Of Dogs seldom runs a poor race, but she is rated 21 pounds inferior to Princess Of Light and could only stay on to finish a never dangerous 3.25 lengths third behind Gibson Girl in a Scottsville 2400m handicap last month. Chablis was 2.25 lengths further behind Isle Of Dogs that day and looks well held, especially as she was beaten 1.65 lengths behind White Mischief over 2500m at Clairwood in March and now meets that rival on 6.5 kgs worse terms. Stable companion Midnight Dazzler also looks well held after finishing 5.25 lengths fifth behind Gibson Girl and has not actually been placed in three handicaps since winning a very ordinary maiden in March.
Bella Nero is a stable to companion to Margaret Court and is also going up sharply in distance, having not raced over further than 1600m. She is out of a mare by Shirley Heights, which is a possible source of stamina, but she makes her local debut after a 15 week rest and is going to need a ton of improvement to be a threat rated just 74. Victory Garden races off a 69 mark and it’s hard to imagine that that will be remotely good enough. She had to be hard ridden to share the spoils in a maiden over 1700m at Greyville nine days ago, and while she gives every indication that she will probably stay 2400m she looks to be a rather forlorn prospect at level weights.
About The Pace
There’s every possibility that this will not be a strongly-run affair, and Princess Of Light may well be able to dominate from the front if ridden as she was in the Gauteng equivalent of this event. White Mischief can also race from up front, but no records seem likely to be threatened. Princess Of Light is versatile, talented, and well weighted. She looks the one to beat, and is selected to win ahead of Las Ramblas, White Mischief, and Ilha Grande. Isle Of Dogs could be the best of the rest.