It’s unanimous. Experts have given the current crop of three-year-olds the thumbs up.
Since the start of the new racing season, we have witnessed some sterling efforts from a number of newly-turned sophomores and look forward to more when racing returns to Kenilworth today.
The Gr2 Western Cape Fillies Championship and Gr3 Cape Classic are being contested today.
Particularly impressive were last season’s Gr2 SA Nursery winner Mount Pleasant (Vancouver) and Stuart Pettigrew’s champion juvenile filly Anything Goes (Var), both of whom took on older foes for the first time and passed the test with flying colours while keeping their perfect records intact.
The former, an Australian-bred colt trained by Mike de Kock, defeated the likes of top level performers Cirillo (Pomodoro) and Chimichuri Run (Trippi) in Turffontein’s Gr2 Joburg Spring Challenge while the latter dispatched her elders with deceptive ease when taking the filly and mare equivalent.
War Of Athena (Act Of War), who had run Anything Goes to a diminishing neck in the Gr1 Thekwini Stakes, likewise made a huge impression when powering to victory over 1200m, a distance patently short of her best.
The pair are set to renew rivalry in the R900,000 Emperors Palace Ready To Run Cup on October 31, while future engagements could include the Gr2 Gauteng Fillies Guineas, which is also a likely target for Candice Dawson’s Sentbydestiny (Master Of My Fate), who stunned the colts in the Gr1 Premiers Champion Stakes.
Also lying in wait is KwaZulu-Natal-based Love Bomb (Oratorio), who ended the unbeaten run of Devon Air Stakes winner Caralluma (Pomodoro) in the Gr2 Golden Slipper.
At Kenilworth, Captain’s Ransom (Captain Al) took full advantage of her light weight when she lowered the colours of dual Gr1 winner Clouds Unfold (What A Winter) with a breathtaking last gasp win in the Gr3 Diana Stakes, her first success at Graded stakes level. Suzette Viljoen’s filly had won the Listed Perfect Promise Sprint as a juvenile and has tasted defeat just once in four starts when beaten a longhead in the Listed Irridescence Stakes.
Port Elizabeth’s champion juvenile Global Drummer (Global View) made an impressive start to his sophomore campaign with a smooth victory at Fairview, his fifth from six starts. Gavin Smith’s charge should continue his dominance in that region and who knows, he may yet venture further afield.
While Champion juvenile colt Tempting Fate (Master Of My Fate) and Gr2 Umkhomazi Stakes winner Erik The Red (Captain Al) are yet to return to action, a number of ‘rising stars’ have made their presence felt, amongst which a pair of blue-blooded stable companions to Mount Pleasant, both owned by Sheik Hamdan.
Last weekend, impressive debut winner Malmoos took the step up to handicap class with aplomb when putting his rivals to the sword over 1450m at Turffontein. A R4.5-million yearling purchase, the Captain Al colt delivered the knockout punch at the quarter mark and increased his lead with every stride to power home by a widening six lengths.
Completing De Kock’s talented trio is Shadwell homebred Nafoorah, a son of former stable star Soft Falling Rain.
He likewise set pulses racing when scoring a dominant gun-to-tape victory over 1800m at the Vaal. The gelding’s refusal to relinquish the lead saw him quicken every time a challenger snapped at his heels and he kept up a relentless gallop to score by a good couple of lengths.
Another worthy of mention is Vercingetorix colt One Way Or Another, who hacked to a comprehensive six-length debut win over the Vaal strip, while paternal half-brother Rascallion has notched up two smart victories from as many starts since his eye-catching third in the Gr3 Cape Nursery on debut.
Invariably, more talented sorts are likely to emerge as the season progresses, but for now, there appears to be plenty of strength and depth to this crop of three-year-olds and with the first classics approaching, we are likely to be treated to some scintillating racing!