A Rush Of Spring

Listed Sophomore Sprint at Kenilworth today...and there's no rain!

Flash Drive

Good Son. The Cape Nursery winner Flash Drive may need the outing but has shown smart ability and hails from a powerful stable (Equine Edge)

A rush of colour and a discernible pep in the step indicate that Spring is in the air in the Cape. After a long gloomy wet winter marred by lost meetings and chaotic training schedules, things are a touch brighter and looking up.

Seven newly turned 3yo’s go to post for Saturday’s R125 000 Listed Sophomore Sprint to be run over the Kenilworth 1200m. The race is a fascinating one, with fitness the single biggest unknown factor likely to sway the odds.


It has been one awful winter here in Cape Town and the words on everybody’s lips is that all are desperately keen to get on with the business of quality horseracing. The mention of September and a day or two of sunshine, and the body language at the various yards has also already discernibly perked up. Life, as we prefer it, is edging back!

The feeling is summed up in the words of a German poet, who wrote that in spring ‘the earth is like a child that knows poems by heart’. And the good news is that the medium term weather outlook as we go to print suggests that we could finally enjoy racing down in the fairest Cape, after last Saturday’s Kenilworth card became the fifth of last month’s seven Cape Town meetings to be washed out .


The quality of Saturday’s feature suggests too that we are not on rations to start with, as a smartly competitive bunch of 3yo’s lines up in a race that could set the tone for better things. The entire field have not run for a minimum of over a month and with training facilities having been hard hit by flooding, the formbook may be an arm’s length guide, rather than a gospel of truth.

There is general consensus amongst the local training community that the past winter has been one of the worst on recent record, although veteran Milnerton conditioner Mike Bass bucked the trend when recalling a similar wet streak some five years ago.

On the flipside, Chris Snaith told The Racegoer recently that it had ‘never ‘ been so bad, while Glen Kotzen added soberly: “It’s always wet in August. This is winter and I personally think that Western Cape racing should close down for a month, giving the horses a break and a time to get them vaccinated, dewormed etc. In any case we need the rain. When summer comes we will all be complaining that it’s too hot!”

The authorities have stepped in to make up some lost ground with extra fixtures scheduled at Kenilworth on Wednesday next week and at Durbanville on 28 September.


It was reported recently that August was a costly month in the region with owners missing out on over 40 races and R2.5 million in stakes, while jockeys and their agents saw their income decimated. The Milnerton training centre was particularly badly hit. Mike Bass said: “We have been able to get the horses out each day but the training tracks are not really workable and we have just been trotting around in the mud and the water. As a result we have been exercising, not working, and so the horses are steadily losing racing fitness.”

Carl Burger, who operates at the Philippi training centre, said: “I think we are slightly better off than the trainers at Milnerton but it has been very wet here. I have been able to canter mine but not give them any fast work.” But back to Saturday’s feature.

Snaith Machine

Justin Snaith is the only one of the aforementioned trainers to take his chances in a small field. He sends out a coupling of the Cape Nursery winner Flash Drive, and the Dynasty colt, Daring Dave. Flash Drive is a beautiful bay son of champion racehorse Jay Peg, who has already been said to have a ‘heart like his dad’ by his part owner, Etienne Braun.

He has won twice over Saturday’s course and distance and his Nursery win was nothing short of spectacular as he was always in touch before showing that characteristic gear change as he kicked again to win well. He comes off a four month break and fitness may well be the biggest worry for his supporters. His stablemate Daring Dave is bred like a fellow who will go a Derby trip in time, and won first time of asking over the Kenilworth 1000m. He beat Skabenga by a short head and showed a nice turn of acceleration late. He is difficult to guage.


Milnerton based Paddy Kruyer saddles Kimberly Al, who has won his first two starts unextended. He won a cracker last time in open company against older established hardknocking handicappers. That win over the Durbanville 1200m from the worst of the draw was a commendable performance, and he certainly looks to be going in the right direction.

Tough Guy

Another Milnerton man, Glen Puller, saddles the Stronghold gelding Strongman, who is another to be unbeaten in two starts. He is out of the popular Casey Tibbs’ mare Sweet Virginia, who had a solid following amongst Cape punters in years gone by when trained by Riaan Van Reenen.

She was a staying sort, but her son has shown the toe and pace of a promising sprinter. His last victory over the course and distance was achieved in good style and it is worth noting that he had subsequent winner, Roman Manner, well beaten by 4,50 lengths there.

Name Game

Phillipi based Brett Crawford trains the Dynasty colt, De Kock, who won his first start beyond the sprints last time out. De Kock, much like his human namesake, has always been highly thought of and after running a promising enough second on debut, won well over 1400m next time.

That form looks rather strong as he had subsequent Listed winner Counts Rocket well beaten, and made merry with his opposition in impressive fashion. De Kock will strip fresh after his break, but may lack the toe to get his head in front of this lot when it counts.



Another Chance. The Vaughan Marshall trained Exelero appears much better than his Premier’s Champions Challenge effort and should not be discounted in Saturday’s Listed Sophomore Sprint

Milnerton resident Vaughan Marshall’s Western Winter colt Exelero has always had a booming reputation and has his first run in his hometown. Exelero enjoyed a mixed Champions Season bag up in KZN, with one win from his three starts.

He started at 7 to 10 on his debut in the Listed Gatecrasher Stakes when going down two lengths to Zambezi Torrent. He made amends next time when winning his maiden in good style over the Scottsville 1400m, but then flopped in the Premier’s Champions Challenge. He started 22 to 10 favourite there , but faded late and finished close to 8 lengths behind the highly vaunted Kochka.


Milnerton trainer Dolf Maeder saddles the maiden, Oats, who has run just one place in his four runs. Oats was considered good enough to contest the Listed Winter Juvenile Stakes at his penultimate start, but never showed and finished stone last of the seven runners. The son of Lundy’s Liability showed good pace last time over the course and distance, before tiring late. There is no question that he would be a shock winner of a race of this nature.

Caution Best

With all due respect to the Dolf Maeder yard, their runner (still a maiden) is probably the only horse that can be removed from the equation. That leaves us with six promising 3yo’s including a Nursery winner and two unbeaten fellows. Throw in the classy looking De Kock and the highly rated Exelero, and it is a race that could throw up any one of six as a winner. Whether from Milnerton or Phillipi, most should need the outing, which in itself levels the fitness playing field.

But then ability may be less important and adaptability could swing it. It is a tough one, but we are siding with Snaith’s promising Flash Drive. He could be strong enough to dispose of Kimberly Al and Exelero. But tread wearily!

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