Blue Sky Heaven

Blustery and overcast at Durbanville today for the Gr3 Matchem Stakes

Capetown Noir

Top Colt. Kannemeyer’s champion Capetown Noir looks set to get back to winning ways in the Gr3 Matchem Stakes

This is much more like it! Things brighten up dramatically in the Cape on Saturday, when the R200 000 Gr3 Matchem Stakes is run at weight for age over the tight Durbanville 1400m. The return of Dean Kannemeyer’s champion 3yo of last season is bound to prove a drawcard for those looking for some glorious fresh air and high quality racing action at the scenic country course. The Cape racing surfaces have taken a hammering in the past few months. The region has languished in the dreaded clutches of one of the worst winters in living memory, and sometimes all the maintenance and preparation in the world cannot prevent these eventualities.

Great Racing

The sun has started shining though, and with the bread and butter brigade now taking a backseat as the serious athletes start stepping out on the eve of the Cape Summer Of Champions season, we look forward to, well, just simply better racing. For punters, that ideally hopefully means fewer form reversals and truer results. For the elitists, it conjures up dreamy thoughts of blue chip weight for age racing, where the best horse inevitably wins. That is in theory anyway.

Class Contest

The Matchem Stakes is a superb contest year in and year out, and the illustrious honour roll shouts from the treetops of class and achievement. Champion Variety Club is probably the most celebrated of the recent winners, but it is worth noting that last year’s placed duo of King Of Pain and In A Rush, went on to win such diverse contests as the Gr2 Selangor Cup and the Gr2 Emerald Cup. The state of the Durbanville track was under the spotlight earlier this week with training gallops suspended indefinitely at the course, with a view on the programme ahead. This is compounded by the catch up game of an additional meeting carded for 9 October. With the class of horse of the Cape Guineas and Derby victor making his seasonal debut, one hopes that the surface will play ball and have dried out and patched itself sufficiently to produce a free and fair competition environment.


Counts Rocket

Progressive. The Glen Kotzen trained Counts Rocket is held in high regard and could challenge for top honours if not in need of the outing

The appearance of the brilliant Capetown Noir is surely the best thing to happen to Cape Racing in the past five months, and his presence will lift the show dramatically. The champion son of Western Winter won six of his first eight outings, including the Cape Guineas and Cape Derby, before heading up to the KZN Champions Season. He won the Gr3 Byerley Turk on debut in facile style and then bumped De Kock’s unbeaten Vercingetorix in invincible form. What happened next is all well documented history now, and Dean Kannemeyer is a determined man this season.

Next Chapter

He is back and ready to set the record straight. Win the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate and Met will write the next chapter. The plan commences right here, and while both his charge and his jockey are likely to be a touch ring rusty, they look just too good a combination to question. Karl Neisius has had a tough season. And it has only just started. He injured his knee in a fall while working Kannemeyer’s All About The Dash at Milnerton on 9 September. The veteran multiple champion jockey had only the previous week returned from five weeks off after aggravating an old back injury in a fall on the way to the start at Kenilworth. Capetown Noir last ran when finishing 4,40 lengths off Heavy Metal in the July. The Milnerton training tracks have been virtually unplayable and he will very definitely need the outing. In his favour is the fact that he is a champion and he has won over 1200m at Durbanville. He won’t find the track strange. He is a confident first selection.

Just The Ticket

He is coupled with the Silvano gelding Hot Ticket. The chestnut also launches his summer campaign on Saturday, and the pace may just be a length or two too hot for him. This exciting 4yo has major potential that he is expected to fulfil this season, but that is likely to extend to a major target like the J&B Met. The Matchem thus serves as a useful starting point, even though it is worth noting that he had sufficient pep in his step to win his maiden over a mile at this track.

Kotzen Rocket

Glen Kotzen’s smart Count Dubois 3yo Counts Rocket is a very promising sort. A winner of his last two starts in succession by an aggregate 8,50 lengths , including a smooth win in the Listed Winter Juvenile Stakes, Counts Rocket should prove competitive. Against him is his wide 10 draw and the fact that he has not seen any racing action for three months, and may well need the outing to bring him on.

On Guard

True Master

Smart . Justin Snaith’s East Cape Derby winner True Master may find this on the short side, but could surprise

Justin Snaith trained Changingoftheguard to win this race last year and is represented here by a three way coupling of Villa Del Largo, Terminator and the East Cape Derby winner, True Master. True Master last ran when unplaced in the Gr3 Winter Classic on 8 June, and will probably need a run or two. He developed into a fair stayer last season, even being spoken about as a potential July contender, and is a classy sort. He has won over 1400m, and could burgle a place cheque if things go his way. There is not much to choose between the remaining Snaith runners, Villa Del Largo and Terminator. The latter has his first Durbanville outing and came out tops in their last clash over the Kenilworth 1400m, when cleverly ridden by Richard Fourie. He beat Villa Del Largo by 3, 55 lengths in receipt of 2,5kgs. They meet at level weights here and Fourie has stuck with Terminator, on whom he has won two of his last three races.

Bass Catch

The Mike Bass Racing team is represented by two runners in Zambezi Torrent and Ashton Park. Zambezi Torrent is a winner of two of his six starts and won a nice race during the KZN Champions Season, when shedding his maiden to win the Listed Gatecrasher Stakes over 1450m at Clairwood. Interestingly he had subsequent Gr1 Golden Horseshoe winner Forest Indigo well behind him in third. If one considers that Forest Indigo went on to be pipped by champion 2yo Kochka in the Gr1 Premier’s Champion Stakes, then Zambezi Torrent’s form may be even stronger than it looks at first glance. The second of the Bass runner is the Battersea Park gelding Ashton Park, a winner of four of his last six starts. Ashton Park has been rested for just over four months, and like many here, will probably need the run to reach a more competitive fitness level. Aldo Domeyer rides the 4yo, who appears to be improving with every start, and while yet to prove that he is anywhere near the class of a Capetown Noir, he could run into the pit of the quartet.

Marshall The Troops

The Vaughan Marshall duo of KZN Yearling Sale Million winner Ace Antonius and the consistent year older Half Moon Hotel, will have their supporters. Ace Antonius was the winner of the inaugural KZN Yearling Sale Million on July Day, and beat the speedy Jimmi Choo by a quarter of a length in an exciting finish to that closed race. Ace Antonius made a fair return to action two weeks ago, when running a nice third behind Trade Emblem in an MR 92 Handicap over the Durbanville 1200m. The Alado gelding Half Moon Hotel has come into his own as a 4yo, and won both his starts this season in convincing fashion. He gave weight and a beating to some fair older handicappers at his last win over Saturday’s course and distance, and has the advantage of a 1 draw.


One just gets the feeling that we are fiddling around trying to find something to beat Capetown Noir. Short of one of the promising 3yo trio improving further and getting away from him, he looks weighted and capable to win this race. Even if he and his favourite jockey are 70 percent ready, it is likely that they will bank the R125 000 first cheque.

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