Safwan Ready For Take-Off

Big Meet now on Sunday 31st

Safwan - was running on strongly at the finish in the July last time out

Gr1 Canon Gold Cup over 3200m at Greyville

Proven stamina is never a bad thing and there are several who fit that bill amongst the maximum 20 runner field for the Canon Gold Cup over 3200m at Greyville on Sunday, but it’s not everything and Safwan could prove a touch too class for his opposition if he copes with the step up in distance, writes Matthew Lips.

The race is not straight forward, but Safwan has done more than enough of late to warrant healthy respect here and he put up a particularly good effort in the Vodacom Durban July.  He was drawn very wide, he lost considerable ground at the start in a slowish-run race, but he ran on well when the contest was effectively over and was beaten little more than three lengths into ninth place behind winner Igugu.  The bunched finish to the July is admittedly a bit of a worry, but Mike de Kock’s gelding caught the eye and the lesser opposition which he faces here could present Safwan with the ideal opportunity to register a first Gr 1 success.  He found the slow pace against him when making no real show in his final outing over 1800m at Clairwood, but that can probably be excused and the son of Encosa de Lago can boast three wins from five visits to Greyville.  He is well drawn and appeals as the one to beat, but one cannot escape the fact that he is going into uncharted waters distance-wise and there is no certainty that he will stay two miles.


Saluki is another who tries this type of distance for the first time, but he bounced right back to form with a very fast finishing half-a-length second behind Dubai-bound Fort Vogue in a Gr 3 handicap over 2200m at Greyville earlier in July a race he had won with similar tactics the previous year.   That was only his second start since he arrived in KZN and he looks to have hit top form at just the right time.  He represents the Stephen Page yard which sent out the winner and runner-up in this race two years ago and certainly has a trainer who knows what it takes to win a Gold Cup.

Two Strikes

Saluki’s stable companion Two Strikes has steady form and also promises to be cherry ripe on the day after running on steadily to finish a never-dangerous but still quite pleasing 2.35 lengths sixth behind Grey Cossack in the Gr 2 Gold Vase over 3000m here earlier this month.  He meets the winner on 1.5 kgs better terms now, which is far from insignificant over this kind of distance, and a decent effort from Felix Coetzee’s mount would come as no surprise.


Il Sanpietro - consistent and proven over the distance

A bigger threat to Safwan may however come from his own stable companion Ilsanpietro, who is thoroughly consistent and who is very well proven over the distance.  He has a rotten draw, which won’t help even in a marathon event like this, but he has excellent form and did finish 3.75 lengths ahead of Safwan in the slow-run Clairwood 1800m event won by Lion In Winter a fortnight ago.  He ran on well when less than two lengths fourth behind Fort Vogue at his penultimate start over 2200m, significantly contesting that race instead of the 3000m Gold Vase on the same card.  He has presumably been targeted at the Gold Cup and looks to have an obvious enough chance, but he shoulders the same weight as Safwan and it is debatable whether Ilsanpietro could have run the sort of race in the July that his stablemate did.

In Writing

In Writing was drawn widest of 17 and ran on just about the strongest of all when he finished 2.30 lengths fifth behind Grey Cossack in the Gold Vase.  It was a very encouraging display, and stamina looks to be the Argentine-bred gelding’s strong point as he finished a decent third in a Gr 3 race at Kenilworth the only time he went this far.  His form since has perhaps been a touch in-and-out, but his last effort entitles Dean Kannemeyer’s charge to considerable respect.
Winners of the Gold Bowl have a surprisingly weak record in this race and Grey Cossack will be hard pressed to buck that trend under a three pound penalty.  On the plus side, Carl Burger’s gelding stays all day and set the pace before being headed in that race, only to fight back and snatch a narrow victory from Predestination in virtually the last stride.  It represented a sudden form return by both horses and there is no guarantee that either of them will show anything of a similar calibre again, but Predestination finished third in the Gold Cup of 2010 and can make his presence felt.  He is weighted to reverse form with Grey Cossack on 1 kg better terms, but is not well drawn.

Knight To Remember

Knight To Remember could really prefer a more galloping course, but he was running on steadily when just more than one length third in the Gold Bowl last time and seems more consistent than quite a few of the others who contested that race.  Another honest sort is Jeppe’s reef, who finished three-quarters of a length further behind Knight To Remember before making no real impact in the 1800m race won by Lion In Winter.  He can do better going back up in distance, but Knight To Remember is weighted to beat him again judged on the Gold Bowl as the former now meets Jeppe’s Reef on 1 kg better terms.

Captain’s Wild

Captain’s Wild was drawn very wide when he made no show and finished with only three behind him in the July.  However, he has the worst draw of them all this time and has a lot to do under 60 kgs top weight.  The form of his half-a-length second behind Happy Landing in a Gr 1 over 2000m at Turffontein in April is less than spectacular and Captain’s Wild is by no means sure to stay 3200m even though he is out of a mare who seemed to stay well.  He might improve going this far, but others do appeal as being more plausible winners.

Hawk’s Eye

Hawk’s Eye  showed a return to form when he raced handy throughout and finished 1.25 lengths further behind Saluki in the 2200m event won by Fort Vogue.  He may not be very predictable, but he finished strongly when one length third behind Two Strikes over 2500m at Kenilworth last December and is fully 5.5 kgs better off with that rival.  Joey Ramsden’s gelding was drawn widest of 18 when making no show over the Greyville 2400m at his penultimate start, so he can probably be excused that, and he could prove to be a threat if he runs up to his best form here.


Arcola stays well, but she made no show when beaten more than ten lengths behind Grey Cossack last time.  The going was very soft when she beat Ilsanpietro (who didn’t seem to really take to the conditions) by four lengths over 2850m at Turffontein in March and Weiho Marwing’s filly appears to need that sort of ground in order to be most effective.  She would be one to consider if there is any meaningful cut in the ground, but failing that others make stronger appeal.  Aslan was staying on when 3.20 lengths eighth behind Grey Cossack in the Gold Vase and could prove sharper with the use of blinkers this time.  The former Gr 1 Summer Cup winner is a class act when he gets it all together and he ran quite well over 3200m in sticky going at Turffontein in April.  He has a very wide draw, but would be potentially well handicapped if the blinkers can bring out some improvement from him.

Key Castle

Port Elizabeth raiders have a solid record in this race and Key Castle will carry the flag for the Friendly City after winning successive Listed handicaps over 3200m at Arlington and 3600m at Fairview.  He had subsequent easy Cape Town winner Hospitality behind him in third in the earlier of those two events and certainly won’t be beaten for lack of stamina, but in all probability he may be a bit too high in the weights to win a race of this nature.  Golden Parachute has won over the distance, but his latest form leaves him with something to find and he could only finish 6.30 lengths behind Grey Cossack in the Gold Vase.  He needs a return to the form he showed when beating a field which included In Writing over 3200m at Kenilworth in February.

Power Lord

Power Lord has run on gamely to win two successive minor events over 2600m on the Turffontein inner course, but has yet to show his best form in two tries at this distance and does look held safe by the likes of Ilsanpietro and Aslan on his earlier Feature race exploits.  Lorenzo Marques gives the impression that he could relish this greater test of stamina, but he was opposed by a weak field for a Gr 3 event when he won the East Cape Derby in May, only to have the race taken away after an objection.  He will need to do improve considerably, and while that is not impossible he does make limited appeal at this level.  Fellow three-year-old Kolkata is on the upgrade and won a great deal more easily than the 1.5 length margin suggests when scoring over 2600m on the Scottsville inner course earlier in July.  He was beaten four lengths by Jeppe’s Reef over 2500m at Clairwood in June, though, and is left with plenty to prove against much stronger opposition than he has been winning against.

Dance At Daylight

Dance At Daylight is taking a big step up in distance and must have some genuine stamina doubts.  He has run on strongly in races up to 1800m, but this is a different kettle of fish altogether and others are definitely preferred.  Dolomite will probably get the distance well enough and was staying on when finishing ahead of quite a few of these rivals in the Gr 3 Lonsdale Stirrup Cup won by Vertical Takeoff over 2400m at Greyville in June.  He can be given a theoretical chance on his best form as he is facing Knight To Remember on 2 kgs better terms for a one length beating over 2400m in March, but the feeling lingers that he just lacks the class to win a Gr 1.

About The Pace

There are precious few proven frontrunners in the line-up, and Grey Cossack could again find himself setting a comfortable pace.  It isn’t beyond the bounds of possibility that the race will fall into his lap and the Gold Cup is rarely a straight forward event to analyse, but preference remains for Safwan.  This race has been won before by horses who have run on strongly to finish not very far off the frame in the July and Safwan can follow suit.  He is selected to land the spoils ahead of Saluki, Ilsanpietro, In Writing, and Hawk’s Eye.

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