Race fitness and distance suitability appear the major unknowns in this Saturday’s traditional Champions Season starting point. The R350 000 Gr2 Drill Hall Stakes has attracted a field of fifteen runners, many of whom are using this event as their stepping stone to other things.
Only four of the field of fifteen showed their faces in competition during the month of April, so the reliability of stable information closer to the day and even possibly the bipolar indicator of betting support, if any, are key to pinpointing a likely winner.
Dean Kannemeyer has made a flying start to his Champions Season campaign and he sends out the lightly raced 4yo Divine Jet.
A winner of 4 of his first 5 starts, the son of Jet Master had close on a year off and after an unplaced run in the South Easter Sprint at Kenilworth in December, he stormed back into the limelight at his last start at end March.
Attracting plenty of betting interest, he flew late to just fail behind the talented Tipo Tinto in a Pinnacle Stakes over the Clairwood 1000m.
We have most definitely not seen anything of the best of this colt, and while he has it all to do from the worst of the draw at an unforgiving circuit, he will be charging at them late and would not be winning out of turn.
Up The Hill
Vaughan Marshall won this race last year with Tales Of Bravery, and he sends out the 4yo gelding Hill Fifty Four, who returns to action after narrowly going second in the J&B Met behind Martial Eagle.
Hill Fifty Four flew just under the radar in his Met build up that included an away win in the Algoa Cup in PE and a scintillating victory in the Gr2 Peninsula Handicap.
The fact of the matter is that he has not won under a mile and he probably needs 1800m to show his true ability at this level, but could be just about anything coming out fresh in the hands of the champion jockey. As a winner of fifty percent of his career starts, he is a horse that continues to confound his critics.
Dennis Drier’s Beach Beauty has drawn beautifully at 2 and knows this venue like the back of her pretty hand.
Beach Beauty is 2kgs better off with Hill Fifty Four for a 1, 5 length beating on their Met clash, and this smart daughter of Dynasty has Group form over 1200m to the calibre of Princess Victoria, to remind us that the 1400m is well within her scope.
The Mike Bass pair of the revitalised Captain’s Secret and Hammie’s Dynasty will have their supporters.
Captain’s Secret has always been regarded as a top horse but has generally tended to disappoint just when things have started looking up.
Robert Fayd’herbe has done wonders with him in the Clairwood sunshine and he won the Marula Sprint and a Pinnacle Stakes around a dead effort in the Hawaii Stakes at Turffontein. As a seven time winner, he is worth taking very seriously under a jockey who knows him well.
Hammie’s Dynasty has his baptism of fire in the KZN Champions Season arena and is a disappointing sort of late, who must have shown something to have been backed as often as he has. From a 3 draw, he is upset material
Sean Tarry moved into top gear on Champions Day last weekend and he sends out a coupling of Always Al and the good mare Happy Archer.
Always Al runs for Kevin Shea and is probably at his best over the 1400m trip.
He ran a good fifth just 4,30 lengths behind Pessoa in the Kings Cup and should be far more comfortable over 200m shorter here.
Happy Archer raised her form with a solid third in the Gr1 L Jaffee Empress Club Stakes behind Thunder Dance last time. Let us not overlook the fact that she is a Gr1 winner (over a mile) at this track and is a horse who finds her best form at this time of the year.
Yogas Govender’s Lake Arthur had a seasonal pipe opener when running an eyecatching albeait unplaced effort in the Listed In Full Flight Handicap last Friday evening. That 1000m trip was too short for him and he can be expected to be a lot more competitive here from a 1 draw.
It may be worth noting that Lake Arthur ran just under three lengths behind Tales Of Bravery in last year’s Drill Hall Stakes.
Justin Snaith’s mercurial son of Dynasty Run For It, has his first outing since running stone last in the J&B Met. Run For It has been gelded in the interim and also runs sans the blinkers.
He is top class when on song, and could give them a serious run for their money from a 4 draw.
Gavin Van Zyl’s lightly raced 6yo Bulsara ran a fast finishing third in this event last year after running wide. He has registered two seconds in his ensuing eight runs, but has failed to win and comes off a 92 day rest after running close to the back of the J&B Met field.
As a gelding who has run well fresh previously, he could challenge for place money.
The Flamboyant Stakes winner Viva Maria has drawn out at 11 and returns from a 92 day rest since an unplaced effort in the Majorca Stakes on Met Day.
She may find this a bit hot for her and the others are preferred.
A tough and competitive affair, where Beach Beauty may be strong enough to hold the boys at the expense of Divine Jet and Hill Fifty Four.