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Gr2 Umkhomazi Stakes, at Scottsville on Sunday

Ace Antonius

Joker? Ace Antonius could make it a big double for his sire

Leg 2 of the juvenile feature duel between trainers Duncan Howells and Mike Miller continues in the R200 000 Gr2 Umkhomazi Stakes where the two local yards appear to hold all the aces again. Raiding trainers Mike De Kock, Justin Snaith and Vaughan Marshall may not agree with that assertion, however.

This race looks a lot more complicated than the fairer sex equivalent of 35 minutes earlier, and sees the clash of some smart 2yo colts, the outcome of which could provide a few key pointers to the Champions Season programme that lies ahead. The interprovincial form mix, makes informed analysis a bit of a shot in the dark.

Having relied for so many years on the proven skills of the relative seniority of a top man like Dennis Drier, it must be heartening indeed for the often maligned KZN training fraternity to find a fast emerging talent like Duncan Howells. Mike Miller, who lies somewhere in between Drier and Howells in terms of seniority, also deserves a big season after banging away at the same hammer for so many years.

Flying

David Payne’s former assistant Howells certainly has some lovely youngsters in his string this season. His Windrush colt Fly At Em is bred by The Alchemy and cost just R70 000 as a yearling. After winning a an excellent race over the Clairwood 1200m on debut, he came out and ran a 1,25 length third to King’s Bay in the Sentinel Stakes after running ahndy for much of the trip.

He then came out in feature company again to run a fair second 4,25 lengths behind Normanz, who looks destined for big things. Mike Miller throws the Judpot filly Colour Of Courage into the mix, and she was also a rather shrewd purchase at R140 000.

Bred by Backworth Stud, she won on debut over the Greyville 1300m when showing fight and heart to beat the subsequently rather disappointing Translator by a half length. Sean Veale rides her again from a 1 draw, and if they don’t catch her for pure pace, she could be right there.

Buttered

Vaughan Marshall’s Ace Antonius was boomed up prior to his winning debut at Kenilworth to be the next best thing since sliced bread, and he won readily by two lengths. Not bad for a R40 000 buy!

His opening shot in Durban was something of a sobering return to reality, and he was solidly beaten 4,40 lengths by Normanz in the Godolphin Barb. Marshall has had enough good 2yo’s to measure them, and we are quite sure that Ace Antonius will be out to set the record straight here.

Be Wary

Mike De Kock teams up with Anton Marcus and the Trippi colt Journeyman, who cost R900 000 on debut. The good looker won easily on debut by 3.75 lengths at Turffontein over 1160m to beat Buffalo Bill, in a field that included winners. The jockey – trainer combination are enough to justify respect.

Justin Snaith brings the Australian bred Playingtheenemy, who won readily at his second start over the Kenilworth 1200m on April Fool’s Day, to the party in his opening KZN run.

There are no winners out of that form and Wind Glider who he beat easily, was himself easily beaten next time round when running fourth in a weak maiden at Durbanville. We have heard plenty of talk about the colt, and he is worth including.

Tough

It looks tough for the balance. These include Corne Spies’ trio of Kimberley debut winner Hypodromo Da Gavea, who has battled in two runs since, Vee Eight who won at Kimberley last time out and Velvet Verona who has his first jump.

Kum Naidoo’s Spritzer was beaten by Normanz on debut, and then came out to beat Peter Culture over Sunday’s course and distance. Peter Culture has not run since, and it is good to see new trainer Robbie Hill with a feature runner. Him and his jockey Kevin Shea go back a long way, and are an experienced combination.

Choices

This is a very puzzling little race. Patriotism may well play its part with a wide transnational choice of yards and form. We are leaning towards Fly At Em, to beat Journeyman and Ace Antonius, with Colour Of Courage the danger.

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