Gr2 Calulo Services Premier Trophy over 1800m at Kenilworth (new course) on Saturday
Open to all horses, the conditions of the Gr2 Premier Trophy favour some much more than others. It is usually a competitive affair all the same though, and there are plenty here with chances, writes Steve Furnish.
Thirteen runners go to post this time around and if the official handicapper has gotten his sums right the one they all have to beat is the 5yo Lion In Winter. A son of Western Winter, Joey Ramsden’s charge showed good improvement during the course of last season and although he was unable to get his head in front in feature race company, he did put in some very creditable efforts. Indeed, he was finishing as well as anything when only beaten 3,25 lengths in the J&B Met. He ran on well when getting up late to deny the very useful Run For It over today’s course and distance on his seasonal debut in November and in his only subsequent start he was finishing best of all when third in the Gr2 Green Point Stakes. Lion In Winter should be at his peak now having his third run after the rest and should fight it out.
As well as Lion In Winter, trainer Joey Ramsden is also represented by the 6yo Hawk’s Eye. This son of Hawk Wing came to hand nicely at the start of last season and very quickly won three from four. His form since then has been a little in and out though, and it is worth noting that those most recent successes were all achieved over further than he races here.
Shouldering top weight of 60kg is the Mike Bass trained English Garden. The surprise winner of last season’s Gr1 SA Classic over today’s distance at Turffontein in March, this son of Camden Park showed tremendous improvement during the course of last season and wound up a very promising campaign with a two lengths third to the all conquering Igugu in the prestigious Durban July. English Garden has clearly been below best in his two starts this season and having been reported as coughing last time out, one has to have concerns. He does now have his third run after a rest here though and now back over a more suitable trip must be a threat if all is now well.
The second highest rated of trainer Mike Bass’ three runners is the Rakeen gelding Super Storm. The runner up in last season’s running of this race, Super Storm is at his best around today’s distance. He too showed good improvement during the course of last season and on the same terms as they meet here, he was only 1,4 lengths behind his stable companion English Garden in the July. In our book, he ran up to his best rating when out at the weights behind Bravura in the Green Point Stakes last time out and could improve now having his third run after the rest.
Making up the trio of runners from the stable of Mike Bass is the up and coming Chesalon. After shedding his maiden tag at the fourth attempt in February this son of Fort Wood progressed quickly and impressed when winning the Gr3 Winter Classic over 1800m here on the old course in May. He also impressed when running on stoutly to get within 0,6 lengths of Tales Of Bravery when out at the weights on his seasonal debut in October. He was unable to get in a blow when again out at the weights in the Green Point Stakes last time out and once again most are weighted to get his measure here. The longer straight of the new course is sure to aid the improving Chesalon though, and with the very talented Bernard Fayd’Herbe in the saddle, he is sure to be given every assistance.
Last Year’s Winner
Backed into 7/1 from 12’s to win this race last season, Cask fairly flew at the business end of the race and got up to beat a very useful field in the dying strides. His form since that eyecatching success has been very in and out and he is now without a win in nine outings. On bare form he would look to have little chance here as he is held by several of today’s runners. Just as he did when running on best of all down field behind Tales Of Bravery on his seasonal debut in October though, Cask has caught the eye finishing the strongest on a number of occasions and I wouldn’t be surprised if Stephen Page’s charge popped up.
Also representing the stable of Stephen Page is the 6yo son of Dubai Destination Saluki. He too commands a very nice turn of foot and many will remember his latest success when passing all in the short home straight at Greyville to win the July consolation. That latest win over 2200m was back in July’ 10 though and having only made the frame once in his last ten starts, he cannot be seriously fancied in a race where he is out at the weights.
Run For It
Placed in three Gr1 events including the prestigious J&B Met last season, Justin Snaith’s charge, amazingly, is without a win in ten starts now. He does undoubtedly have some impeccable form to his name though and on those efforts alone he has to be a very serious runner here. He has the weights in his favour with all except Lion In Winter and he does now have his third run after the rest. Expect a bold effort.
Sparingly raced during the course of the last two seasons, Glen Kotzen’s charge was thought good enough to contest the Selangor Cup and Cape Guineas back in 2009, and although he failed to get in a blow in those events, he did finish fourth later that season in the Cape Derby. He will no doubt have been in need of the outing when seventh in the Gr3 Algoa Cup after a six month layoff and he was running on steadily from the rear when out at the weights in the Green Point Stakes last time out. He could make the frame.
Another in command of a nice turn of foot on his day, the 6yo Caymen Island is more often than not seen out over further than they race here. His latest win was achieved over 1600m though and he was finishing best of all when only failing to reel in the improving Taipan by the narrowest of margins over today’s distance on the old course last time out. Caymen Island does now take a big step up in class here though, and at the weights clearly has a stiff task.
League Of Honour
Although his latest two successes have been achieved over 1600m, League Of Honour has gained the majority of his wins over today’s course and distance. He’s been ultra consistent in recent months and looks sure to give of his best. He has found the going a little tough when previously stepping up to graded company though and will do well to make the frame here.
The most lightly raced runner in the field, the highly regarded Lake Arthur has been coming along very nicely since shedding his maiden tag at the first attempt in January and he did show his class when only beaten a length at levels by Castlethorpe in the Gr3 Winter Guineas towards the end of last season. Further improvement could well be forthcoming in this his third run of the campaign and on that he is not without a chance.
At his best when racing up with the speed, Master Barry has proven to be very consistent. His latest two successes have both come over 1400m at the country course though and clearly worst in at the weights here, he is not easy to fancy.
About The Pace
With most preferring to run on from off the speed, a true pace is definitely not assured. There are a number of very important couplings in the event though and one gets the impression that if Master Barry doesn’t bowl off to the front, that provisions will have been made. Lion In Winter and Run For it have some top class form to the their names and they are the best in at the weights. Lion In Winter was finishing the stronger of the pair when conceding 7kg last month and he was also finishing stronger than Run For it when again conceding more weight than he does here in both the J&B Met and Peninsula Handicap. He gets the vote.