Join the Franny Frenzie

Gr2 SA Fillies Nursery over 1160m, Turffontein, Saturday - 28 April


Franny aims to remain unbeaten and to give sire Trippi his first local Graded winner

It looks a foregone conclusion. Front running Franny made two starts to date, both in feature races. She won them by a combined margin of 8 lengths, the first at odds of 8/10, the second deep in the red at 3/10. What could possibly go wrong for the daughter of Trippi?

Well, for one the recent history of the SA Fillies Nursery (since it returned to the straight course after some ill-advised races over 1400m) has not always favoured short-priced favourites.

On the plus-side, Rock Opera won at 7/10 in 2005 and Merlene de Lago scored in 2008 at odds of 1/3.
But Ethics (18/10) bit the dust against subsequent champion 2yo Asylum Seeker in 2006. Lady Bonzer (in the red at 11/20) was unplaced behind State Factor in 2007, but had an excuse as she finished seriously lame.

In 2009, the 2/1 favourite Corpes da Elite didn’t make the frame, leaving the spoils to Spring Clover. The next year was a shocker, when 25/1 shot Waywest Goddess won by 2 lengths and 9/10 favourite Hollywoodboulevard finished unplaced.
Then last year, it was 9/10 favourite Amanee who could do no better than fifth behind Hidden Beauty.

So it’s not all cut and dried then.
If anything is to beat favourite Franny, then there are a handful of candidates.
Most interesting of these is Genuine Leather, who is half sister to Dingaans runner-up Tigray. The filly was meant to have her debut in February, but was scratched, reportedly not eating up. She came out instead early in April, as the medium of a betting coup. In the opening betting at 25/1, she eventually started at 9/2, and won impressively. In terms of ratings the effort wasn’t much behind the ratings recorded by Franny when she won her races. Piere Strydom rode Genuine Leather first time out, and has the ride again.

Dominic Zaki saddles the unbeaten Sea Shadow, winner of her two starts to date by a combined margin of ten lengths. She started at odds of 1/10 in a six-horse field over this course and distance at her most recent outing, earlier in April. She still showed signs of greenness at her second win. Just how good the daughter of Victory Moon is, who knows.

Mike de Kock saddles Sheikh Mohammed’s imported Encosta de Lago filly Umneeyatee. The filly won her only run date by some eight lengths, over 1200m at the Vaal late in March. She started as 12/10 favourite in a field of eleven, so her win didn’t come as surprise. She’ll have to improve quite a bit on that first effort to win here. Anton Marcus has the ride, while regular De Kock jockey Delpech is on Franny. There might be a message in that.
Size Does Count won her first start, then opened in the betting as even money favourite to beat Franny when the latter made her debut. When the gates opened, Franny was 8/10 favourite, with Size Does Count at 3/1. The market got it right, Franny coming home alone, with Size Does Count a remote third. Connections must be hoping to collect another line of black type with their Count duBois filly, although a win seems rather unlikely.

Geoff Woodruff’s imported Rock Of Gibraltar filly Ilha da Rock was the 7/10 favourite (from an opener of 15/10), in the race where market springer Genuine Leather also made her (winning) debut. Ilha da Rock, with Marcus in the saddle, showed pace but in the end could do no better than third, beaten five lengths. Of course, that outcome is not necessarily a true reflection of the respective abilities of the two first-timers. Most 2yo’s make improvement at their second starts, and some can do so dramatically. Ilha da Rock should certainly not be ignored.

Yvette Bremner raids from PE with Silvano filly Cotillon. She made a winning debut, then finished second to The Black Rose in the local Fillies Nursery, beaten some six lengths. That was in the middle of March. Cotillon had been 19/10 second favourite, with The Black Rose who came with a huge reputation from Cape Town, the odds-on favourite. On her form to date Cotillon looks to have a bit to find to feature prominently.

Entering a first-timer in a field of this apparent strength takes some courage. Corne Spies, who has a few decent exposed juveniles in his care, comes with a Captain Al 3-part sister to Champion sprinter Cataloochee. There no way of telling how good she is, but her trainer must have some idea. It seems best not to take the filly lightly! Incidentally, Spies has a second runner in the line-up, Spanish Victory, who was eight lengths behind Franny when the latter won her second race.

A second debutant is King Of Kings filly King’s Temptress, from the Lensley yard in Kimberley. Hard to know what to expect, other than that the trainer has only had one winning 2yo in his career to date – and that was last year.

In summary, a highly interesting contest. It’s hard to go against Franny, but she’s not unbeatable. All of Genuine Leather, Ilha da Rock, Sea Shadow and Umneeyatee have potential to upset the favourite – and each other. Boxed exacta’s and trifecta’s are probably the best way to go.

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