Gr1 Betting World Cape Flying Championship over 1000m at Kenilworth on Saturday
As with the recent Gr1 Paddock Stakes, the prestigious Gr1 Cape Flying Championship attracted very few nominations and fewer runners. It was the initial presence of Igugu that saw just six go to post in the Paddock Stakes and it is no doubt the presence of J J The Jet Plane, not to mention What A Winter and the flying mare Val De Ra, that see just six go to post here, writes Steve Furnish.
Unbeaten over sprint distances in this country, J J The Jet Plane has been a tremendous ambassador for South African Racing. He was last seen in action here back in 2010 when he won his only two starts, the Gr1 Golden Horse Casino Sprint and the Gr1 Mercury Sprint with authority. Those two successes as with the vast majority of his career wins have been gained 1200m, but he did also win his only start over 1000m on our shores when making all to beat Flintlock by a neck in the 2008 Gr1 Computaform Sprint. There are very few who are not aware of J J’s breathtaking victory over the already legendary Rocket Man in the Gr1 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint 13 months ago, but he has also been successful in his latest two outings, the latter of which, significantly, was a Gr2 event over today’s distance in Dubai. J J The Jet Plane has been off the track for ten months since that Gr2 Success, but it is worth noting that he had been off the track for a similar period when winning those two races in Natal back in 2010. He is of course now an 8yo and as with the mighty Pocket Power when reaching that age one has to question whether those engines can still reach maximum, especially after such a lengthy break and racing over the minimum trip. It will be great to see him back in action in this country either way though and he is sure to attract people to the racecourse.
Val De Ra
Rated some eleven points inferior to J J The Jet Plane is this weight for age event is the flying mare Val De Ra. Beaten just once in eleven outings, the speedy Val De Ra is at her best over 1000m. Indeed, she’s won all seven starts. In gaining back to back Gr1 wins in her final two starts last season she proved herself to be a real champion. She showed her well being in this campaign when winning the Gr2 Southern Cross Stakes in her only previous outing over today’s course and distance after a six month break last time out, and although the second run after the rest brigade will have already written her off, she is sure to strip fitter here. She won with some in hand when beating members of her own sex in the Southern Cross last time out, and that without having to put her tremendous gate speed into play. Her early speed was a major factor when beating What A Winter on 2kg worse terms in the Gr1 Computaform Sprint over today’s distance last season. Watch her go.
What A Winter
Mike Bass’ charge has only been beaten once in three starts over today’s distance and that of course, as mentioned above, was when a runner up to Val De Ra in the Gr1 Computaform Sprint over 1000m at Turffontein in April. What A Winter very quickly found himself some six lengths adrift in that event run in soft going and did very well indeed under the circumstances to get within a length and a quarter of Dennis Drier’s charge at the wire. He couldn’t have been more impressive when winning a pinnacle event with a ton in hand on his seasonal debut and he again had plenty in the locker when beating both Copper Parade and his stable companion Captain’s Secret in the Gr2 Diadem Stakes over 1200m here last time out. Always handy when gaining that latest success, What A Winter adopted a change of tactics. He’s undoubtedly improved since he last met Val De Ra, as both his official merit rating and Sporting Post rating will attest. If again on his toes here, he can win.
A son of Captain Al, What A Winter’s stable companion Captain’s Secret showed real potential earlier in his career. After picking up a conditions event on his return from a nine month layoff in Oct ’10 though, he’s been unable to find the winner’s enclosure in sixteen starts and interestingly, four of his five career wins have been achieved in soft going. He has nonetheless run some very good recent races in defeat though, most notably when third in the Gr1 Mercury Sprint. That event, as with the vast majority of his victories was gained over further though and out at the weights here, he clearly has a very stiff task.
A winner of the prestigious Juvenile Stakes (L) over 1000m here back in Jan ’10, this son of Lecture was up there with the best of his generation as a youngster. Since being awarded victory in the Gr1 Golden Horseshoe over 1450m at Clairwood in the steward’s room in that year though, Copper Parade has only managed to find the winner’s enclosure once in sixteen outings. He’s well held on his two most recent meetings with What A Winter over further and although he is arguably better suited to today’s trip, he does seem very unlikely to turn the tables.
As with Captain’s Secret, the Rabah horse Rabattache has proven to be at his best in soft/heavy going. Indeed, he’s gained five of his seven victories in those conditions. He goes particularly well over today’s distance where interestingly he has only met defeat once in five starts. Rabattache is yet to taste success in feature race company though, and coming off a four month break here, and out at the weights to boot, he is not easy to fancy.
About The Pace
With just six runners going to post one would normally have very serious concerns about the pace. One of Val De Ra’s greatest assets though is her tremendous natural gate speed and taking into account that that could hold the key to this race, the pace should be on. The mighty J J and the up and coming What A Winter both command a very powerful turn of foot and although they would ideally prefer a tad further, both are sure to be flying at the finish. The younger of the big three What A Winter has looked to be a champion in the making in winning his last two starts, and having his third run after the rest in what is sure to be a fabulous contest, he should be at his peak. He gets the Vote.