Although most of the better Cape Town horses are currently being prepared for next week’s Champions Day, or the forthcoming Natal season, a number of very useful sorts have been kept back in recent years to contest the Cape’s Winter Series. Indeed, the legendary Pocket Power won all three legs when taking this route in 2006, and there are a few this time around, who have shown real potential, writes Steve Furnish. The one to beat if the official handicapper has gotten his sums right is Nysean Bolt.
Greg Ennion’s charge has been tried over various distances, but interestingly, his two wins have come in his only two previous outings over 1600m. He’s clearly been below best in his two most recent visits to the track, but a reproduction of his efforts in both the Gr1 Cape Derby and listed Politician Stakes would put him right there.
Stable companion Abington has performed with credit behind some very promising young horses in recent outings. Indeed, he was only beaten a half length over the today’s course and distance by the subsequent Gr1 SA Classic winner English Garden in January. He too was not at his best last time out though, and having only managed just the one win from thirteen starts, others are preferred.
The chances of trainer Mike Bass (or anybody else for that matter) ever being able to find another Pocket Power is clearly very unlikely, but in Castlethorpe he does have a very serious runner here. Highly regarded from day one, this son of Not A Single Doubt ran the subsequent Dingaans runner up Galileo’s Destiny to a length and a quarter in just his second career start and was then only beaten a similar distance when taking on older horses in the Gr3 Matchem Stakes two outings later. He seemed to lose his way a little after finishing close up in both the Gr2 Selangor Cup and Gr1 Cape Guineas, but did then look to bounce right back to best when beating two of today’s runners by three lengths after a short break last time out. If overcoming his very wide draw, he should be involved.
Prior to this outing, stable companion Peregrine Power had not contested anything greater than a MR80 Handicap in ten starts. He has nonetheless shown flashes of real ability though, and he does on his day command a fair turn of foot. It will be interesting to see how he goes.
Amazingly, given his very powerful turn of foot, Bastille Day has only managed to get his head in front once in ten starts. And that of course, was against maidens. Glen Puller’s charge has caught the eye flying up at the death though on several occasions and he was running on best of all from off the pace when only beaten two lengths in both the listed Politician Stakes and the Gr1 Cape Derby. Effective in both good and soft underfoot conditions, this son of Var is clearly better than rated and can still improve plenty. He could win.
The highest rated of trainer Joey Ramsden’s three runners is the Gr3 Matchem Stakes runner up Lucky Moon. This son of Victory Moon ran the subsequent Gr1 Cape Derby runner up Il Saggaiatore to a length when third in an Allowance Plate in December and with the subsequent Gr1 SA Classic winner English Garden having finished second in that event, the form is clearly very strong. Lucky Moon has failed to reach the same heights in his four efforts since then though, his only win coming in a novice event, where, slung in at the weights, he only scraped home by the narrowest of margins.
Is Lucky Moon the stable elect though? Jockey Glen Hatt has ridden all three of Joey’s runners in their latest starts and he is aboard Azeroth. A winner of four of his ten starts to date, this son of Western Winter has come to hand nicely in the last couple of months, winning three of his last four starts. He does have a bit to find if he is to mount a serious challenge here though, and setting off from gate fourteen, he clearly faces a stiff task.
Making up the trio is Dead Cert. A bit of an enigma, this son of Tara’s Halls has not found it easy to live up to name. Placed in both the Langermann and Cape Nursery as a juvenile, Dead Cert battled to make his presence felt at the start of this season, but did then look to have found his earlier form when winning with contemptuous ease in handicap company over 1400m here in February. Just as quickly as it arrived though, that earlier form seems to have deserted him again, and having been well beaten in each of his last two outings, there has to be concerns.
Wolf On The Fold
Brett Crawford’s charge was not far off the best of his generation locally last season as his third placing to Top Seller in the listed Winter Juvenile Stakes will attest. He performed with credit in top events during the recent Cape season, but on those efforts he does look held by others in this race, and having been reported as coughing in his second run after a rest last time out, a place is perhaps his best hope here.
Since stepping up in distance after being well beaten over 1200m on debut, Dean Kannemeyer’s charge has shown good improvement with each outing. He’s gained two of his three wins over today’s course and distance and he did look to have a bit in hand when beating King’s Guard going away over the trip last time out. Further improvement looks sure to be forthcoming from Coasting Avalanche, but he does now take a big step up in class and setting off from gate thirteen, has no easy task.
One of those horses that very quickly gained a big reputation, the Yogis Govender trained Lake Arthur was impressive in winning his first two outings. With all due respect, he didn’t bump the strongest of fields in those first two starts though, and he was then beaten fair and square when third to Coasting Avalanche in handicap company last time out. Lake Arthur is still learning his trade though, and well drawn here, could improve plenty.
At his best when racing close to the speed, Shane Humby’s charge has been very consistent since winning his maiden in December, and he has drawn well here. He has been comfortably beaten by both Azeroth and Nysean Bolt in recent starts though, and on those efforts, he should be held.
More often than not seen out over shorter, Master Barry caused a major upset when winning a MR80 Handicap over today’s course and distance in his penultimate start. Master Barry was allowed a soft lead when making all in that race, but interestingly, he did have Azeroth, who had raced handy, well behind him. He was far from disgraced when taking on older horses in even stronger company last time out and although he does seem unlikely, he could make the back end of Quartets if once again allowed to go clear early on.
Yet to miss the frame other than when being reported as not striding out on his return from a break in his penultimate start, the Count Dubois gelding Bayard has been coming along nicely. He has his third run after the rest here and well drawn at five, further improvement could well be forthcoming. He was beaten fair and square when a runner up to Azeroth in the East Cape Guineas last time out though, and now taking another leap up in class, he won’t find this easy.
As with Bayard, Mister Gone has been progressing well since shedding his maiden tag, and he did look to have a little in hand when winning twice in February. He too was beaten after having held every chance in the East Cape Guineas last time out though and on that does look held.
After running the subsequent Gr1 Cape Guineas winner Solo Traveller to a length and a quarter as a juvenile last season, one might have expected the Second Empire gelding to win his maiden a little sooner that he did. King’s Guard could well pick up a second win much quicker than he gained his first, but having been beaten fair and square by others in this race in each of his two post maiden outings, he does seem very unlikely here.
On The Bench
A stable companion to King’s Guard, the sole reserve runner is Locked On Target. Since being given a gentle introduction to racing in December, this son of Jet Master has shown good improvement with each start. He won well after racing handy in the maiden ranks last time out and is sure to improve further. He didn’t beat the strongest of fields in that event though and at this stage of his career, this will probably prove to be a bridge too far.
About The Pace
With a number of candidates for the role of frontrunner amongst the full field of sixteen going to post, at least a fair pace can be expected. One of those sure to benefit from a brisk pace is Bastille Day. He commands a very powerful turn of foot on his day and on the evidence of his earlier performances he can win.