The R150 000 Gr3 Flamboyant Stakes is something of a race without a home. Run at three different racecourses in the past three years, it reverts to its original home of Greyville in 2014 and will be run over a mile under the lights on Friday evening.
Much has been said and written about the KZN racing surfaces in recent months, with the diabolical weather playing havoc with the local racing roster. Word is also doing the rounds that the Greyville turf surface is in dire need of being relaid.
We can thus only hope that the racing will go ahead as scheduled and it is interesting that the recent disruptions are not the worst on record. In 2009 the Flamboyant Stakes had to be scheduled three times before the weather allowed it to finally take place in February.
A field of twelve runners, with three reserves, goes to post with Gary Alexander’s Gauteng visitor Classic Illusion topping the ratings. The 2013 Gr3 Yellowwood Handicap winner Classic Illusion is a very smart daughter of Kahal, who invariably puts her best foot forward. She is very nicely in here at the weights and looks a solid choice to land the odds for the likeable Alexander clan.
She has tried her luck previously in KZN but has her first run at Greyville on Friday over what may well be her optimum trip. With the give in the ground and the shorter home run, she could also find the City track much to her liking. Then if one recalls the way she won the Yellowwood by grabbing the ascendancy early in the straight, she has the toe to capitalise on Greyville. Her last start was over a too short 1400m, but she nevertheless stayed on well behind former Gr1 winner, Go Indigo.
Dennis Drier and Gavin Van Zyl saddle three runners each, and it is worth taking these two powerful local yards into account. Dennis Drier has turned his Cape season around in recent weeks and he has a powerful trio carrying the flag. The jockey arrangements, with Sean Cormack a notable absentee, give little away. Anthony Delpech takes the ride on the Jallad filly Murmering Sky. A talented winner of 3 of her 15 starts, she has been rested ten weeks since going down narrowly to Orange Blossom. She has to find 2,5kgs here and her fitness and readiness is a worry.
Donovan Dillon rides the Daylami filly Joyful Spirit, who tries the mile for the second time in her career. She has won 3 of her 11 starts and appears to have her problems. Danseuse is capable but has an awful 15 draw to overcome and comes off a ten week rest. She may need the run.
Gavin Van Zyl’s KZN yard has been ticking over nicely and he will be hoping to grab the spoils in this feature. Anton Marcus rides the stakes placed and very well drawn Solskjaer 4yo Lady Tatty, who has lost the sparkle of her earlier form. If we ignore her last three runs (all in sprints), she may well come back to best over a trip that suits her. MJ Odenndaal rides the Toreador filly Flitter, who comes in off an eyecatching fourth place behind Espumanti in the Gr2 Ipi Tombe Challenge.
While she has battled for a third win, she is certainly not without a chance of earning in a race of this nature. The third of the Van Zyl trio is the lightly raced Silvano filly Vino Veritas, who has her fifth outing, and was an impressive maiden winner back in August. She comes in with a galloping weight and is well drawn. She ould prove much better than her rating suggests.
Duncan Howells saddles Orange Blossom and Misty Morn. Both are very capable and Orange Blossom was not disgraced when 7 lengths off Espumanti in the Gr2 Ipi Tombe Challenge at Turffontein at end November. She won her last local start over the course and distance and meets Murmering Sky (second there) on 2,5 kgs better terms. Misty Morn is consistency personified and she appears to hold Blouberg Beach after beating the Kotzen mare by over four lengths in the KZN Summer Challenge last time.
Sean Tarry’s Mullins Bay filly Tinchy Stryder started her career with a bang winning two quick races, but has gone off the boil somewhat. She has not run for 16 weeks and looks likely to need the outing. Glen Kozten’s Blouberg Beach is a solid four time winner, who ran a cracking fifth behind Big Bird in the KZN Summer Challenge Series final last time.
The daughter of Dynasty’s best form has been over shorter, but on breeding and best performances could challenge. She was hampered in that Scottsville mile last time on soft going and gave the capable Big Bird all of 7kgs. The Cunha trained Chestnut Model is a consistent and pacy daughter of King Of Kings, who may prove some value after showing her wellbeing with a good second at Clairwood just ten days ago. She steps up in class but is capable and could provide an upset.
While the local challenge is a strong one, there are many ticks in the right boxes for the Gary Alexander visitor, Classic Illusion. Fit and well, she is distance and surface suited and has shown her class as a Gr3 winner. She is a confident selection to beat Murmering Sky and Flitter.