With the KZN season now fast approaching, the best of the weekend action takes place at Scottsville on Saturday. The highest rated runners contest the Gr3 Byerley Turk Stakes where only eight of the original 29 entries have stood their ground, writes Steve Furnish.
The runner with the highest merit rating amongst the eight very talented 3yo’s going to post is the gutsy son of Snitzel Unannounced. Charlie Laird’s charge has been going from strength to strength since shedding his maiden tag against winners in May. Unannounced is yet to race beyond sprint distances, but four of his wins have been gained over 1200m and the manner in which he has courageously found extra when challenged in each of his last three outings would suggest that the extra will suit. Further improvement looks sure to be forthcoming and best in at the weights here he must have a serious chance of extending his winning sequence to seven.
Ransom Of Choice
As well Unannounced, trainer Charles Laird is also represented by the Stratum colt Ransom Of Choice. A winner of three of his fourteen starts to date, Ransom Of Choice is more often than not seen out over further. His three successes have all been gained in much weaker company and although he has put in fair efforts in his last two starts over today’s distance, he cannot be seriously fancied now up in class and badly out at the weights here.
Beaten just once in three starts as a juvenile last season, Dean Kannemeyer’s charge wound up a tremendous first campaign with victory in the Gr3 Cape Nursery over 1200m. He took a couple of runs to find his form after returning from a four month break in September, but he did then show his well being when running on best of all over today’s distance to beat the subsequent Queen’s Plate winner Gimmethegreenlight in the Gr3 Cape Classic. Having been reported as not striding out, this son of Dupont had excuses when finishing down field in the Gr1 Cape Guineas in December, but in his two races since he has again come to hand nicely. Indeed, he had some in hand when beating this season’s Cape Merchants winner Shades Of Indigo over 1200m in handicap company last time out and now having his third run after the break, and racing over a more suitable trip, he can only improve.
The most lightly raced runner, and indeed the dark horse of the race, is the Bernstein colt Storm Mayordomo. After making a typically average debut in January, Dennis Drier’s charge has won both starts. He ran on well when beating a subsequent winner over 1200m in his second start and then caught the eye when flying up from the rear to beat another subsequent winner in soft going last time out. Storm Mayordomo is now taking a major step up in class and on exposed form is worst in at the weights here. His trainer knows full well what it takes to win a race like this though, and having an enormous amount of scope for improvement, Storm Mayordomo could yet prove to be anything.
After finishing runner up in the Gr2 Umkhomazi Stakes in just his third career outing last season, the Mogok colt Storm Bringer then went on to run a very creditable fourth to Delago Deluxe in the prestigious Gr1 Gold Medallion. He raced prominent throughout when reported as finishing distressed in the Gr1 Golden Horseshoe (his only outing beyond sprint distances) in his only subsequent start last season, but despite that, he was only beaten 2,1 lengths. Storm Bringer was given a three month break after that run and has since won both starts. He comes off another break here and that has to be a concern. Pat Lunn’s charge is more than fairly treated at the weights with most here though and on a line through Delago Deluxe (third in the Cape Classic), he should be thereabouts.
Although Vaughan Marshall’s charge only managed to win one of his six starts last season, he did finish fifth in both the Langerman and Winter Juvenile Stakes. This son of Alado has silently been progressing very nicely in this campaign and has now won three of his last four starts. He’s at his best over 1400m as his three wins over the distance will attest, and if ready on this his return from a three month break, further improvement should be forthcoming.
Sent off at the prohibitive odds of 9/20 when heavily supported to win his maiden in January, Distinguised won well after losing two lengths at the start. He has been beaten fair and square in each of his two subsequent outings though and having been reported as making a respiratory noise last time out, he cannot be seriously fancied now out at the weights against much stronger.
The one that beat Distinguished last time out was the Australian bred Territorial Waters. Tony Rivalland’s charge was unable to finish better than sixth in his first three starts. He’s improved out of all proportion since stepping up to 1400m and adopting a change of tactics though, and has won his last two outings, both over today’s course and distance, in good style. He does now take an enormous step up in class in his bid for the hat-trick though, and at this stage of his career this does look to be a bridge too far.
About The Pace
Although just eight go to post a good pace looks assured as most are at home making the running. The unbeaten Unannounced is best in at the weights and the style in which he has won his last three outings would suggest that the extra will suit. He can still improve and looks to be right there. The one I like best on the day though is Depardieu. Dean Kannemeyer’s charge impressed when flying up late to beat Gimmethegreenlight and Delago Deluxe in the Cape Classic and could well pick this up en-route to bigger things.