Gr2 Betting World 1900 at Greyville on Friday night.
With the Natal season now in full swing all eyes on Friday will be focused on Greyville. The Betting World 1900 tops the bill and with twelve runners going to post for what is in real terms a handicap, it is as usual a very competitive affair, writes Steve Furnish.
Heading the weights is course specialist Tropical Empire. Rated some eight points higher than his nearest rival in the handicap, Duncan Howells’ charge has won six of his eleven starts at this circuit and most notably, he was successful in his only previous outing over today’s trip when winning this very race in 2009. This 8yo son of Second Empire was rated thirteen points lower at that time by the official handicapper, but interestingly, he only carries 2,5kg more than he did then. He’s been sparingly raced since running up to his best rating when dead-heating over a trip well short of his best in November, but he was running on after being slow into stride when unplaced behind the Met winner in the Gr2 Drill Hall Stakes over 1400m here last time out. Tropical Empire has no easy task here having to concede lumps of weight to some very talented up and coming young horses, but he is playing on his home ground and if reproducing his best here, he could complete a very classy double.
The only coupling in the race is that of the mighty stable of Mike De Kock. He saddles all of Alderry, Fisani and Safwan.
One of three fillies in the race, Alderry can be erratic, but as she showed when winning the Gr2 November Handicap with authority off a mark just 5 points lower than what she races off here earlier in the season, she is certainly capable. The blinkers go back on here and if the talented Kevin Shea can get her positioned from the widest draw, she should be involved.
Perhaps a bigger threat from the stable though is Fisani. She is well drawn and having beaten her stable companion fair and square on similar terms in the Gr2 Gerald Rosenberg Stakes over 2000m at Turffontein last time out, she’s at the top of her game. This daughter of Kahal is clearly still improving and on that must have serious claims.
The New Zealand bred Safwan has been the busiest of the three in recent months and being nicely drawn, and sure to get every inch of today’s trip, should be thereabouts. He has been battling to get his head in front in weaker company of late though, and on that, others are preferred.
Although Dean Kannemeyer’s charge has only managed to win three of his seventeen previous outings, he has nonetheless run some very good races in defeat. Indeed, after going down less than a length in the Gr2 Peninsula Handicap over 1800m at Kenilworth in January, he finished a fair sixth in the prestigious J&B Met. This son of Editor’s Note was penalized 6 points for his performance in the Met and that might just make the difference here. He was again running on stoutly in his only subsequent outing over much further though, and if fully tuned up after a near three month break is another who should be involved in the finish.
As with In Writing, Justin Snaith’s charge was tried over various distances during the recent Cape season and although she too was without a win, she did also catch the eye running on very strongly in three of her four starts. Her best performance during the summer was undoubtedly her fourth placing to her lesser fancied stable companion Emerald Cove in the prestigious Gr1 Paddock Stakes where she was finishing as well as anything. Amongst others, that effort would suggest that we haven’t seen the best of her yet, and although she won’t find it easy against the boys here, she could make the frame.
Prior to his latest three starts, the Fort Wood gelding Cask had barely been out of the frame and when he ran on best of all to beat a very useful field in the Gr2 Midmar Premier Trophy over 1800m at Kenilworth in December, he looked to be a top sort in the making. He had been drawn very wide when running on strongly down field in the Peninsula Handicap in his next start and he was out at the weights with the principals when unable to get in a blow in the Met. Stephen Page’s charge was racing over a trip well short of his best when returning from a bit of a break in his only subsequent start last time out and will more than likely have needed the run. He could still improve plenty and if ready must be a very serious runner.
Mike Bass’ charge has shown tremendous improvement during the course of this season and prior to being given a break at the end of January, he completed a very smart hattrick. He’s been coming to hand nicely since his return and showed his well being on arrival in Natal last time out when only picked off late in the listed Sledgehammer Handicap. Hammie’s Boy should now be at his peak having his third run after the rest here and futher improvement could well be forthcoming. He does now take a big step up in class here though and won’t find it so easy having been penalized another 3 points for his second placing last time.
After failing to live up to his reputation during the vast majority of the last Natal season, Joey Ramsden’s charge suddenly came good and won three of his next four starts. He did then battle when pitched in against stronger during the recent Cape season and he does return from a four month break here. He is perhaps best just watched for now.
Prior to being beaten just three quarters of a length by the legendary Pocket Power when out at the weights in a pinnacle event in his penultimate outing, Sean Tarry’s charge had won five in a row. He was off the track for almost a year after that effort, but he did then show his well being when only beaten 3,7 lengths by the J&B Met winner Past Master when again out at the weights in the Gr2 Drill Hall Stakes on his return last time out. In our book, this son of Caesour ran up to his best rating in that latest outing and sure to have come on for the run could surprise.
Dance At Daylight
Rarely out of the frame, Dennis Drier’s charge is as consistent as they come and has already amassed stake earnings of over half a million Rands. Since winning the Xmas Handicap in December ’09 though, he is without a win in ten starts and now up in class, he is not easy to fancy.
Yet to win beyond 1600m, Weiho Marwing’s charge has done well on turf, but he has proven to be at his very best on sand. He’s been racing in very strong company since returning from a six month break in April and now having his third run after the rest should be cherry ripe. He has been well beaten in each of his last two starts though, and badly out at the weights here, he is clearly up against it.
About The Pace
They usually set off at a fair clip at this circuit and with a fair amount of speed in the race at least a fair pace should be forthcoming. Plenty have chances if finding their best form and Mike De Kock’s two fillies in particular look sure to be involved. There are some young boys here though with very strong earlier form and could still improve plenty. Cask is one of those fitting that bill, and it is he who gets a tentative vote.