Green Point Stakes: What The Trainers Think

WFA event lives up to former reputation as glorious big race prep

Pocket Power, in his second race of the season, faces a strong field on Saturday at Kenilworth Racecourse in the Grade 2 Ocean Basket Green Point Stakes over 1600m.

The field includes the unbeaten Bravura and Cape Town’s current star, Tales Of Bravery.

Pocket Power’s chief aim this season is the Grade 1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate on January 8, where he will attempt to equal the world record of the 1960s USA stalwart Kelso by winning a major race five times in succession.

Mike Bass said, “He has come on from his last run, but I’m not sure that he’s up to winning it. In the past he has won all of his preparation races even when not at his best, but he is now eight-years-old and I suspect that he won’t be as good this season as he has been in the past especially in his preparation runs. But hopefully we will have him at his best for the Queen’s Plate.”

Bravura, unbeaten in five starts including a brilliant win in the Grade 1 Cape Derby, returns from a ten month rest having injured his hind leg.

Joey Ramsden said, “It’s difficult to judge how good he’s going to be on the day as he’s a very weak workhorse. He was like that before. He’s a laid back horse and Anton Marcus thinks he’s extremely difficult to judge. But we’ve got him as fit as we can with what’s available to us. He’s looking fine and we’ve been happy with his gallops.”

Asked on whether keeping his unbeaten record was high in importance Ramsden said, “Obviously I’d like him to remain unbeaten. He’s not going to be there to doddle around at the back. But this race is not his main objective and it’s an extremely good race, there are some very good horses in it, and he’s returning from a ten month rest. Ideally I would have preferred an easier preparation run.”

Ramsden would have also preferred the race to have been on the New Course, which he believes is “fairer”, and would have liked a lower drawn than six.

Bass, regarding the course, said, “The faster the pace and the wider the false rail the fairer the Old Course is.”

Tales Of Bravery, a Kahal gelding, has blossomed as a four-year-old, having won the Matchem Stakes over 1400m and then beaten Pocket Power by 2,25 lengths at level weights over 1500m three weeks ago.

Vaughan Marshall confirmed that he was very well although adding, “He’s not quite at his peak as the Queen’s Plate and the J&B Met are his main objectives.”

Bass also runs Blue Tiger and Fort Vogue and said, “I’m not sure any of mine are ready to beat Tales of Bravery yet. Tales Of Bravery is a very good horse at the moment and I think he’s underrated. Blue Tiger is not at his best, he has worked better than he did this week. Because of the way he runs from the front he needs to be spot on to win. Fort Vogue is very well, but it’s a tough Weight For Age race. He’s on the way up and has come on from his last start where he looked worse than he was as he was chased up around horses, instead of being waited with, and weakened late. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was in the frame although he is still on the way up.”

Ramsden also has a coupling as Ivory Trail runs.

He’s a frustrating type as he often costs himself with slow starts, with two of the worst examples being in his last two starts.

Ramsden said, “He’s doing well but I’m not sure he’s good enough to win in such a strong field, although he could finish third or fourth. We’ve done a lot of starting stall work with him and everything seems fine, but you never know what will happen on the day.”

An interesting contender is the Darryl Hodgson-trained Past Master, who won the Selangor last year when with Dean Kannemeyer, beating Noordhoek Flyer.

Hodgson said, “He’s very, very well although he’s not quite 100% as the Queen’s Plate and Met are his main objectives. He joined me in July and we’ve been impressed with him, but we have to be careful as he was returning from a suspensory ligament injury so I’ve just brought him on slowly. You have to hold thumbs that he returns sound after each of his races. Gerrit (Schlechter) knew him before. He reckoned his Selangor win was no fluke and actually rated him better than Noordhoek Flyer. He believes he is on his way back to being as good as he was.”

Glen Kotzen has last year’s winner, Fabiani, in the line up again.

The five-year-old faces a tougher field this year, but Kotzen said, “He is fresh and likes to run fresh. He didn’t winter well in Durban and is far better now and fit and well. I would have preferred to have put him in a sprint before this race, but couldn’t as they put the two races (Merchants and Green Point) a week apart.”

Mike Stewart runs Grafton Street and warned punters not to write him off despite him now being a nine-year-old.

He said, “He’s very well. I wish I could’ve given him a sprint race beforehand. But I’ve given him two hard gallops and he’s fit although he is carrying a bit of condition. The Midmar might be his main aim, although if he finishes in the first three on Saturday we will consider the Queen’s Plate.”

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