Please note: Greyville race meeting has been postponed to Sunday 31 July and Turffonteins race meeting will now take place on Saturday
Gr1 Premier’s Champion Stakes over 1600m at Greyville on Sunday
Three of the four of the highest MR-rated runners in the Champion Stakes are Australian imports, and only two of the top-eight are locally bred. Chances are that, as in the Gr1 Golden Horseshoe on July day, the spoils will fall their way. Even if the order of finish from the Shoe will be overturned.
Unlucky horse on July day certainly was Gimmethegreenlight, who was trying to bring his unbeaten record from four to five wins. Priced up in the red, he was in trouble right at the start of the race, losing a few lengths, yet ran on strongly to be beaten just over a length. Without mishaps the tables should be turned on race winner Fighting Warrior and runner-up Mushreq.
Fighting Warrior recorded a career best rating in the Golden Horseshoe, as did Mushreq. The latter, as now with Delpech in the saddle, had made the pace in the race and was mugged just on the line. He’s a son of sprint-sire Flying Spur, so whether he’ll get the extra 200m remains to be seen.
De Kock has two other runners in the race, Ginepri and Silver Flyer. Both are lightly raced, and will have to improve to feature prominently. They should be distance suited, which will help.
Charles Laird saddles two imports, Tennessee Strategy and Rio Carnival. The latter ran somewhat below best in the Golden Horseshoe, when ridden by Marcus. Tennessee Strategy finished less than two lengths off the winner that time, but two lengths ahead of his stable companion, and Marcus has switched. Tennessee had a poor draw in the Shoe and was running on late. He’ll appreciate the extra and looks a serious contender here, even though he’s again drawn quite wide.
The two SA representatives in the top eight MR-rated horses are Astro News and Hard Rock. Astro News showed good promise early at two, but either hasn’t trained on, or need this distance now. The race will tell. He was beaten over three lengths in the Horseshoe. Hard Rock was ahead of him there, beaten under two lengths. On pedigree there must be stamina doubts for the son of National Emblem over this mile.
An interesting contender is twice raced Potata Palace, who made his debut over a mile in April, and won his second start over 1450m by six lengths in good style. This Singspiel colt is out of a half sister to Gr1 winner and sire Golan, and will have sire aspirations if he can make the grade. He’ll have no stamina doubts. The race will tell just how good he is – or isn’t.
Owner Fred Crabbia has no less than four runners in this race, including Master Plan who won his second start over 1400m at short odds. This Jet Master gelding seems likely to be better than rated, assuming he stays a mile. His dam is a half sister to Champion middle distance stayer Young Rake. Crabbia also has Fighting Warrior and stable companion Surruptious. The latter won over 1900m on July day, and could be anything.
There may be lurkers among the rest of the runners, as unexpected improvement over this 1600m distance is always possible.
About The Pace
With a full field of sixteen, the pace ought to be on from the break, and true run race is expected. Stamina will count. Gimmethegreenlight looks the one most likely to succeed, but we see Tennessee Strategy as a big challenger. After that anything goes, considering how close many of the runners were to the winner in the Golden Horseshoe on July day.