Power Players

The main event! The R2 million Gr1 President's Champions Challenge at Turffontein on Saturday

E Jet, Horse

Sean Tarry’s E-Jet is improving and he could land his biggest career prize to date on Saturday

The richest event of the ten race Turffontein Champions Day programme,  Gr1 President’s Champions Challenge, can naturally be expected to attract all the best horses, but as we have seen in years gone by, the chances of an upset result looks almost an inevitability. The open early betting also lends credence to this theory.

The honour role is there for inspection. Names like Joey Soma’s Happy Landing and Sean Tarry’s Regal Ransom are two examples of rocky results in recent times. But they were good horses and we have fifteen more of them facing the starter on Saturday.

Mike De Kock won it with the filly Europa Point last year, but the champion looks hard pressed to repeat that feat with yet another Wilgerbosdrift Stud owned female in Ilha Bela this time round.

The grey is the only member of the fairer sex in the event, and while we never underestimate the De Kock factor, it is unlikely that she can bounce back against a capable bunch of males.

We may just have to eat those words though. But that’s also half the fun and thrill of going out on a limb in a game that tames any wild animal.

 

Jet Powered

In a very open race, we are leaning marginally towards Sean Tarry’s recent Gr2 Colorado King Stakes winner E-Jet.

Fair enough, that wasn’t a vintage field.

But the Scott Bros bred 4yo impressed us as an underexposed progressive sort there, when he quickened off a muddling pace. We also rather liked trainer Sean Tarry’s comments in the post race interview regarding his high regard for this gelding, and that he saw the Vodacom Durban July as a likely target for his season.

That’s fighting talk for a horse who only won his Graduation four runs back. And in young Karis Teetan, Tarry may have found the answer to negating Anton Marcus’ defection to Mujaarib for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum.

 

De Kock Challenge

Mujaarib

Mike De Kock’s Mujaarib will be ridden by Anton Marcus and is a serious contender.

Mike De Kock’s three way coupling is spearheaded by the November Handicap winner who ran a lovely third in the Gr1 Horse Chestnut Stakes last time, just behind Slumdogmillionaire.

The Australian bred son of Nadeem is a quality 4yo, who won his first four from maiden through to Gr1 on the trot late last year. He is also well drawn at 2, which won’t harm his chances.

We are giving Gavin Van Zyl’s Solskjaer gelding Shogunnar another vote of confidence, after letting us down mildly in his recent starts. He does not appear too well handicapped, but the raw statistics and maths can be misleading.

One of the most well qualified one time winners in the country, Shogunnar, has appeared to lack resolve in his finishes and tends to find his stride too late.

Piere Strydom gets another chance to make good on Shogunnar, and if anybody can, then Striker is the man.

 

Fever Pitch

Sean Tarry’s powerful quartet is bolstered by the Hawaii Stakes winner Whiteline Fever, who has come into his own in the past six months.

The Daytona Stud bred son of Right Approach hashad an excellent prep into this race and was only beaten by Piere Strydom in the Horse Chestnut Stakes when going down by a whisker. He looked a winner there right up until the final 40m of the race, and he will be ridden by his Summer Cup jockey, Bernard Fayd’herbe.

Those are our top four, but the rest all warrant respect and a mention.

 

Plan Ahead

Alec Laird now trains the former Greg Ennion inmate Master Plan for owner Fred Crabbia.

The son of Jet Master has not run since his unplaced effort in the J&B Met where he cast a shoe in running, before running second last.

The always positive astute horseman Ennion often raved about the 2012 Champions Cup winner’s ability, and he starts at the top of the handicapper’s rating. He is likely to need the outing though. Saeed Mohideen sends out the Victory Moon Stakes winner Zambucca, who comes in off a solid effort in the Horse Chestnut Stakes where he set the gallop before hanging on well for a 1,55 length fifth to Slumdogmillionaire.

The son of Lundy’s Liability has drawn poorly but has bumped the best in his five runs and has not disgraced himself. He could well run a place.

 

Destiny

The Summerhill Stud bred Pierre Jourdan has seemingly been around forever, but the outstanding 6yo is relatively lightly raced and has only his 28th start on Saturday.

The son of Parade Leader has been something of a champagne brand name for his trainer and breeder, and while his best days are probably behind him, he has the undoubted class and ability to have a say in the finish.

Galileo’s Destiny is the second of the three De Kock runners in the race. Gelding has improved the New Zealand bred 5yo’s enthusiasm for racing and after an eyecatching third placed effort in the Hawaii Stakes, he failed to quicken in the Horse Chestnut when beaten 4,25 lengths by Slumdogmillionaire.

 

Wood or Metal?

The London News Handicap winner Knock On Wood ran an excellent race in the Gr1 Horse Chestnut, when producing a strong late run to clinch fourth spot 1,5 lengths off Slumdogmillionaire.

The Silvano gelding Heavy Metal has drawn against the paint here, but has not won a race since bounding home to win the Listed Darley Arabian at the end of last season.

Heavy Metal faded badly in the Senor Santa three weeks ago, which was way too short for him. He will definitely prefer this more testing trip.

St John Gray’s Glorious Jet is a rather unpredictable talent, who seldom runs two similar races in succession.

One of three Jet Masters in the race, he is a kilo worse off with E-Jet for a 1,25 length beating in the Gr2 Colorado King Stakes. Glorious Jet is not well drawn at 12.

 

High Flyer

Weiho Marwing’s Putney Flyer has only his third run in Gauteng since relocating from Darryl Hodgson’s Milnerton yard. The son of Miesque’s Approval ran a cracking second in the Drum Star Handicap behind General Sherman. Baracah is the fourth of the Tarry runners. The son of King Of Kings finished with a fair rattle to run fifth in the Colorado King Stakes and is 1kg better off with E-Jet for a 3,25 length beating.

 

Jamming

Yer-Maan is the second of the St John Gray runners, and the 4yo takes a notable step up in class after a courageous win in an MR 93 Handicap at the Vaal last week. He probably got slightly lucky there as the third placed Luminous Love was hampered(as discussed in the Gold Bowl preview).

Yer-Maan would be a first stakes winner for his sire Jam Alley. The son of Peintre Celebre, who also campaigned in the green and white, won the Gr1 SA Classic in 2005.

The grey Ilha Bela is the only filly in the race. Besides drawing wide at 15, the daughter of Fort Wood has been rather disappointing since winning the 2012 SA Oaks in scintillating style. Her last run in the L Jaffee Empress Club Stakes was not a disgrace. She finished 4,75 lengths behind after being checked, switched and hampered at the 400m marker.

 

Our Vote

In horseracing it is a given that anybody can justify any opinion or selection ahead of the event.

There is little doubt that there will be vastly differing opinions on the merits of the various runners here and the betting tells the whole story.

We are going with the value and exciting promise of E-Jet to beat the exceptional talent of Mujaarib. Shogunnar deserves another chance and there is little doubt that there is a big win lurking in his ample frame.

Whiteline Fever has matured into a top class racehorse in his 4yo year and he should be snapping at their heels. If your assessment doesn’t tally with ours, don’t lose any sleep. It will all be much clearer on Saturday evening.

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