Gr2 Selangor Cup: What A Winter

Cool as a cucumber, the son of Western Winter posts his Guineas ambitions

What A Winter - easy Selangor Cup win


Whatever doubts there may have been about What A Winter staying beyond sprint distances were buried in no uncertain terms when the ultra-promising colt easily saw out 1600m and won the Selangor Cup at Kenilworth on Saturday.  What A Winter may have blotted his copybook when beaten as the 3/10 favourite for a Gr 3 event over 1400m four weeks earlier, but the weights of the Selangor were at least much more favourable for Mike Bass’ colt and he went off as the 18/10 favourite in a field of 12.  Solo Traveller was the 28/10 second favourite after having beaten What A Winter by 2.25 lengths on 3.5 kgs better terms last time out, while What A Winter’s stable companion Castlethorpe brought proven stamina to the party and was the 5/1 third choice of punters.

What A Winter had pulled hard in the early stages of the slow-run Cape Classic in October, which was perhaps the greatest cause of his undoing, but they went a decent clip in the Selangor and he was able to settle much better.  It was 100/1 outsider King Fahiem who made himself useful by setting a proper gallop in the Selangor, showing the way ahead of Castlethorpe and Solo Traveller, with Top Seller passing horses to sit up in fourth place more or less alongside Ridge Too Far.  Castlethorpe and Solo Traveller were in the perfect position to take charge as King Fahiem weakened inside the last 300m, with Top Seller also working his way into contention, but all of them were about to be swept aside by What A Winter.

Switched to the outside of horses to ensure a clear run, What A Winter made eye-catching progress from some way off the early pace and was visibly going much better than anything else coming into the final furlong.  He drew clear close home under Karl Neisius to win by 1.75 lengths from a staying-on Top Seller, with Solo Traveller a neck further away in third and in turn three-quarters of a length in front of fourth placed Castlethorpe.    Top Seller put up an eye-catching display in second, hinting at the possibility that he will be right at home over the 2000m of the Cape Derby in January.  So might M’Lords Throat, who finished a respectable fifth in the Selangor first time out after his runaway maiden win two weeks earlier.

It could be argued that What A Winter and Solo Traveller ran very much to their previous form given the very substantial 3.5 kgs swing in favour of What A Winter, but the latter had to prove he could give of his best over a mile and he left nobody in any serious doubt that he can indeed.   That makes him an obvious leading contender for the Cape Guineas later in the summer, and one fancies that it will take an out-of-towner to potentially beat him as he easily appears to have the measure of Cape Town’s best three-year-olds at level weights.  Given a decent pace and another opportunity to settle in the early stages, What A Winter could take a ton of beating in the Guineas, especially if the gnawing suspicion that Kavanagh doesn’t entirely stay 1600m proves to be correct,

What A Winter is a handsome son of Western Winter out of the Irish-bred Ahonoora mare Waseela and is the half brother to high class 1200/1400m performer What A Question.  That family tie by itself was enough to cast some question marks on What A Winter’s stamina, but we need to concern ourselves no more.  Bred at Daytona Stud, What A Winter has won four of his five starts, earning stakes of R388 179, and it would not be at all difficult to argue that he is presently the best horse of his generation in South Africa.

Selangor Cup (SAf-G2) (11/27)

Kenilworth, South Africa, November 27, R300.000, 1600m, turf, good, 1.39.88 (CR 1.35.80).

WHAT A WINTER (SAF), 55.0, b c 3, Western Winter – Waseela (IRE) by Ahonoora (IRE). Owner G N Shirtliff, M W Bass, B Ressell & N M Shirtliff; breeder Daytona Stud (Saf); trainer M W Bass; jockey K Neisius (198.913)

Top Seller (SAF), 55.0, b c 3, Al Mufti – Top Of The Range (SAF) by Northern Guest

Solo Traveller (SAF), 55.5, b c 3, Western Winter – Strawberry Lane (SAF) by Jallad

Margins: 1¾,nk, ¾

Also ran: Castlethorpe (AUS) 54.0, M’lords Throat (SAF) 54.0, King Fahiem (SAF) 54.0, Copper Parade (SAF) 58.0, Run For It (SAF) 55.0, Splash Gold (SAF) 54.0, Wolf On The Fold (SAF) 54.0, The Shark (ZIM) 54.0, Ridge Too Far (SAF) 54.0

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