Ready To Rock

Gr3 Christmas Handicap at Clairwood on Monday

Code Rock goes for three in a row

Gr3 Christmas Handicap over 1600m at Clairwood on Monday

The highlight in midweek is the Gr3 Christmas Handicap which takes place at Clairwood on the Day of Goodwill. Ten runners look set to go to post and with just one under sufferance it looks to be a very open affair, writes Steve Furnish.

Shouldering top weight of 60kg is the 4yo Black Wing. This son of Kahal went on to win four in a row after shedding his maiden tag in February and then ran a very creditable fourth, beaten just one length by The Apache, in the Gr1 Daily News 2000. At first glance he would appear to be below best thus far this season, but he was making late headway in the Charity Mile and did have excuses having been cramped and unbalanced early on, in the Summer Cup.

Danish Silver

The only coupling in the race is that of Yogis Govender. He saddles both Danish Silver and Storm Sagaz.

The 7yo Danish Silver is more often than not seen out over further these days and hasn’t won over a trip shorter than 1900m since May ’08. He has run some fair races over today’s distance in the mean time, including a fourth positioning in this race last season. He’s without a win over any distance in 22 starts now though and once again a place is perhaps his best hope.

Storm Sagaz

The younger Storm Sagaz has won twice over today’s distance earlier in his career, but he too has mainly been campaigned over further in recent outings. Indeed, his two most recent wins have been gained over a minimum of 1900m.

Across The Ice

Equally effective on sand, Sean Tarry’s charge is yet to win beyond 1400m. He had excuses having been drawn wide when failing to show in the Charity Mile over today’s distance recently and the manner in which he was running on when only failing to peg back Assogia Wood over 1450m last time out would suggest that this 1600m trip is well within his capabilities. Anton Marcus takes the ride and setting off from pole position he has to be a serious runner.

Las Ramblas

The only filly in the race, Las Ramblas is also yet to score over 1600m, but she does go well over today’s course and distance as her running on fifth to The Mouseketeer in June will attest. She returned from a break at the top of her game when winning a conditions event last time out and although she has no easy task against the boys here, she should give a good account of herself.

Code Rock

Formerly campaigned in Cape Town, Code Rock ran a good third in the Politician Stakes after shedding his maiden tag over today’s distance last season and was then thought good enough to contest the Gr1 Cape Derby. This son of Doowaley was running on strongly at the finish in both of those events and at that stage of his career it looked as if the best was still to come. He’s come to hand nicely since relocating to Natal and in winning his latest two outings he has shown good improvement. The only negative is that those two latest successes as with his feature race efforts were all gained over further than they race today.

Bay Route

As with Code Rock, Deon Visser’s charge is seeking to complete a hat-trick here. He’s gained four of his five career wins over 1600m, but what is interesting here is that all of those successes were achieved at the sharp Greyville circuit, whereas the best he has managed in four outings at this track is a fourth placing to Storm Sagaz. He is clearly still improving though and with the not so easy to pass Felix Coetzee in the saddle he should to be right there when the race begins in earnest.

Dellotto

Kom Naidoo’s charge showed flashes of real ability earlier in his career and was once rated nine points higher in the handicap than he is today. He’s without a win in twelve outings now though and yet to score over a trip shorter than 1800m, he is not easy to fancy.

Orbit War

A bit of a dark horse in the race is the 5yo son of Bernstein Orbit War. His latest win was prior to finishing sixth in this race last year and he has failed to finish better than sixth in his six outings since. He has in the main been keeping very good company though and he has in recent outings showed signs of coming to hand. Orbit War was running on at the finish when only beaten 3,85 lengths in the KZN Chapter Challenge over today’s distance last time out and he races off a mark five points lower in the handicap than that of last year.

Magnanimous

The ultra consistent Magnanimous is a bit of an enigma. Indeed, after holding every chance he’s been beaten into second by less than half a length in five of his last six starts. He’s drawn well here and should be right there again.

Dun Carrer

The most lightly raced runner in the field, Dun Carrer has silently been progressing nicely since shedding his maiden tag over today’s course and distance in January. He was running on strongly when third over 1450m after a six month break just eight days ago and now back over 1600m he can only improve. Dun Carrer does now take a big step up in class here though, and in under sufferance by 3kg to boot, he faces no easy task.

About The Pace

With a fair proportion of the runners usually seen up handy, and the hat-trick seeking Bay Route at his best from the front, at least a fair pace should be forthcoming. My favourites to fight it out are Black Wing, Across The Ice and Code Rock with preference marginally being for the latter.

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