Due to heavy rain the racemeeting rescheduled to Friday night, 13 May 2011.
Link Man vs. Justin Snaith. That could be the story of Sunday’s KRA Guineas over 1600m at Greyville, where Link Man crosses swords with the Snaith-trained pair of Solo Traveller and Run For It who occupied the first two places in the Gr 1 Cape Guineas at Kenilworth during the summer. Run For It is the only one of this trio with the benefit of previous Greyville experience, but it is Link Man who is narrowly selected to land the honours and get champion trainer Mike de Kock’s KZN winter campaign off to a rousing start, writes Matthew Lips.
Link Man has been in great form in Gauteng this season and is himself already a Guineas winner after running on gamely to beat stable companion Kavanagh by 1.25 lengths in the Gauteng equivalent at Turffontein in February. The Toreador colt then didn’t quite seem to see out 1800m on very soft ground when he lacked extra late and was beaten less than two lengths into fourth behind English Garden in the Gr1 SA Classic four weeks later, but he has had six weeks to get over those exertions and the Greyville mile promises to suit him perfectly. He was the very easy winner of a Gr3 race over 1450m on the fairly sharp Turffontein inner course earlier this year and has been the model of consistency, and although not well drawn in gate 11 Link Man usually races close to the early action and can hopefully overcome the draw without excess bother.
Run For It makes plenty of appeal
This is however a very competitive renewal of a race which arguably deserves to regain the Gr1 status it lost a few years ago and Run For It makes plenty of appeal. Rated the equal of Link Man by the handicappers, Run For It is many pundits’ current idea of the likely Vodacom Durban July winner and Justin Snaith’s colt will be hoping to emulate the 2003 successes of his sire Dynasty in both this race and in the July. Run For It made an encouraging local debut when he ran on steadily from the tail of a small field to finish two lengths third behind Excuse My French in a progress plate over 1400m at Greyville in April and is likely to have come on from that outing, It was his first racecourse appearance since he finished an excellent two lengths third behind Past Master in the J & B Met, and he was running on in great style when he got to within half-a-length of his stable companion Solo Traveller in the Cape Guineas the last time he went 1600m.
Solo Traveller does he have the form of his Cape Guineas win?
Somewhat unusually for a Gr1 winner in this day and age, Solo Traveller was gelded after finishing fifth in the Gr1 Cape Derby and has had one start since, staying on to finish a never dangerous fourth behind Super Storm in a set weights race over 1400m at Kenilworth in early April. That was arguably a little disappointing and it remains to be seen whether the son of Western Winter will be in the same form here as when he won the Cape Guineas back in December, but his comeback run may have brought him on. His post Guineas form has been a little less than spectacular, but this will be the first time he races over 1600m since he landed the Kenilworth classic and he needs to be taken seriously even if that most recent performance does leave a few doubts bouncing around inside one’s head.
Excuse My French, doesn’t deserve deserve to be the lowest merit rated horse in the Guineas line up
Excuse My French re-opposes Run For It and may appreciate going this far for the first time as he was doing his best work late when he won that Greyville 1400m contest. He is an improving type and who probably doesn’t really deserve to be the lowest merit rated horse in the Guineas line-up, but he faces Run For It on 5.5 kgs worse terms and the latter should not have a great deal of difficulty reversing the form especially as he may have made the greater improvement since that race.
The Apache’s wellbeing questioned with lack of recent run
The Apache returns to action for the first time since he came from well off the pace to beat Galileo’s Destiny with some comfort in the Gr2 Dingaans over 1600m at Turffontein last November. The presence of Kavanagh back in third gives the Dingaans form a solid look and it could be argued to have been as good a race for three-year-olds as any of those which followed it in either Gauteng or Cape Town. The lack of a recent run leaves us guessing as to The Apache’s wellbeing, but he would be very much a contender if at his best and he did finish what appeared to be an unlucky long head second behind subsequent Gr1 winner English Garden in a maiden event over this distance the only time he was seen at Greyville. He is not easy to sum up in the circumstances, but he would hardly be a surprise winner especially as he won the Dingaans from the widest draw and probably made his move too quickly when below best in a Gr 3 at his penultimate start.
Elusive River tries 1600m
Elusive River has consistent form up to 1400m and was always in touch before he finished two lengths fourth behind Polar Moon in a Gr2 handicap over 1160m at Turffontein in early April. He has yet to race beyond 1400m, but on pedigree there is every chance that he will get the mile as both of his parents won over this distance. His sire Elusive Quality’s progeny include dual American classic winner Smarty Jones and it is not impossible that Elusive River will rise above his form to date going over this longer distance. He will need to if he is to pose any serious threats, though, for he is rated 14 pounds below the likes of Link Man and Run For It.
Mystic Moon makes his local debut, having fought on gamely under a hefty 62kgs to beat subsequent winner Blake in an all-ages handicap over 2000m at Durbanville in March. Greg Ennion’s gelding had Solo Traveller 1.75 lengths behind him in third when he won a Listed race over 1800m at Kenilworth in January, but Solo Traveller is taken to reverse the form here. There is now a 3.5 kgs swing in favour of the Snaith runner, and this 200m shorter distance probably suits Solo Traveller more than it does Mystic Moon.
Phantom Fighter is on the upgrade and fought on very well under pressure to beat Ridethebreeze by a neck in a Gr3 over 1400m at Scottsville in April. The two meet on the same weight terms and there may again not be much between them, but the Guineas is a much stronger race and a good deal more will be needed for either to emerge as a serious contender. Of the two only Ridethebreeze has been tried over 1600m and finished a decent third in a course-and-distance graduation plate last November, but others appeal as being more likely winners here.
Gold Onyx has disappointed since he came from well off the pace to win a Gr 1 event over this course-and-distance last July, where he beat Kavanagh by almost one length going away with the subsequently exported Zanzamar in third. He needs a sudden return to that form, but he has not been placed from four starts in Gauteng since. He was beaten more than seven lengths behind English Garden in the SA Classic, when starting for the first time since being gelded, and while he now returns to the scene of his biggest triumph he will need to find his best form in a hurry.
Super Trouper may not have enjoyed the wet ground when he trailed in 40 lengths behind English Garden in the SA Classic and finished right on the heels of the same horse when they respectively placed second and third behind Kings Entourage in a minor Feature over 1600m at Turffontein in March. Kings Entourage has done little for the form since, though, and one must conclude that English Garden had made big improvement from that run when he won the Classic in his next appearance. Super Trouper was beaten six lengths behind Link Man on 2.5 kgs better terms than these over 1450m in February and should be well held here. So should Go Go Loochee, who is far from certain to stay 1600m anyway after he set the pace but lacked a strong finish when beaten 1.65 lengths behind Phantom Fighter over 1400m at Scottsville last time out. He’ll be a big outsider here, and rightly so.
About the pace
Go Go Loochee may be the one who will cut out the early pace, but there doesn’t appear to be a great deal of early speed in the Guineas line-up and the race may be run at an ordinary gallop. Such a scenario would suit Link Man (who is no mean sprinter) perfectly, at any rate if he can overcome the deep draw, but he would also be quite happy if they went at a decent pace. Either way he appeals as the horse to beat and is selected to win ahead of Run For It, Solo Traveller, and The Apache. The improver in the race could be Elusive River, another who may benefit from a slowly-run contest, and if there is to be a surprise he could be the one to deliver it.