The Listed KZN Guineas Trial produced the Gr1 SA Classic winner last year. This year’s event is being run under lights at Greyville on Friday evening, as opposed to Clairwood as it was in 2012. The field also looks a touch stronger this time round.
Anton Marcus piloted Love Struck to victory in the race last year when the son of Kahal registered an easy win over Wind Trip. He subsequently was to go on and produce a shock victory in the R2 million Gr1 SA Classic four months later. He appears to have lost his way a bit in his 4yo season.
The eleven runners that go to post at Greyville on Friday evening include some promising 3yo’s, including Mike De Kock’s progressive Australian bred, Taarish. The Encosta De Lago gelding will be ridden by Anthony Delpech and after the powerful duo endured a largely frustrating day at Turffontein last Saturday, they will be looking to get back amongst the feature winners, sooner rather than later.
De Kock and Delpech actually picked up the Gr3 Graham Beck Stakes on Charity Mile Day, but we are so used to them winning a few big races on a high profile day, it all seemed rather ordinary. The draw gods, which were so unkind to them up North, have given them some respite here with a tempting 2 barrier jump.
Taarish looks a good sort in the making and has won 2 of his five starts. Like many in this field, his improvement has been commensurate with a step up in ground and his last outing was his most impressive to date. That win was achieved in a Conditions Plate at Scottsville over 1750m, when he beat the older Barcelona Boy by over 3 lengths.
It was an excellent post maiden effort, and we can expect him to show further skills here. It is his first sight of Greyville and the lights will also test his maturity. His stablemate is the Brazillian bred debut winner Nigel Mansell. The son of Elusive Quality is thrown in the deep end after just one career outing, but could be just about anything after winning his maiden narrowly over 1200m at Scottsville at the end of September.
The Gauteng raider Henry Of York is another Aussie bred. The son of Henrythenavigator comes in here off a third to the highly rated Bouclette Top at Turffontein, and while that one flopped in the Graham Beck Stakes on Saturday, we have no idea how strong his form is. That said, Bouclette Top and Henry Of did have subsequent Graham Beck Stakes winner, Whistle Stop, sandwiched between them that day!
Anton Marcus rides the Fred Crabbia owned Delaware Bay for Charles Laird. The son of Mogok put some indifferent performances behind him when winning an MR 78 Handicap at Clairwood over a mile last time, in good style. He has the advantage of having won at Greyville.
The Gr2 Umkhomazi Stakes winner Colour Of Courage has done nothing in four runs since his big win. The son of Judpot beat Delaware Bay on his debut, and now steps up to a mile for the first time. Sean Veale, who has ridden him at all his six career starts (Veale rides Nigel Mansell tonight) always indicated that Colour Of Courage would be better over more ground. He now has a chance to prove that he wasn’t just a forward 2yo, who got lucky.
Alyson Wright saddles the most experienced runner in the race in the Miesque’s Approval colt, Emperor Niarchos. A winner of 2 of his 10 starts, he races in the well known Fire Racing Trust finery and won readily in a low key handicap at Clairwood last time. Anton Marcus rode him there, and one would consider that Superman made the call to ride Delaware Bay in preference.
Sean Tarry’s lightly campaigned Trippi colt Golden High, is a well related fellow. This half brother to July winner Pomodoro won his maiden by 4 lengths at his secon run, and then found the 1200m too short when going third behind Last Eclipse at his latest outing. He holds Diamond King on that run and being well drawn and with Khumalo up, could challenge for highest honours here.
Tony Rivalland saddles a coupling of Diamond King and the Admire Main gelding Sensei. Diamond King was an impressive maiden winner at his second start, and then came out to run the top class King’s Bay to 2,5 lengths also over the Clairwood 1200m.
He was backed into odds on at his next outing, but after being slightly slow away, he ran handily and faded to fifth behind Last Eclipse in a Conditions Plate. That is the race where Golden High ran on so smartly for third. That was a disappointing effort from this well bred colt, and he will be under pressure to show that he is as good as he is said to be. This is thus the acid test, as it were.
His stablemate Sensei improved at his fourth start when trying a mile to win his maiden at long odds. This will be much tougher and his first three runs were not impressive. Another recent maiden winner is Deon Visser’s Dream In Combat, a son of Toreador who has shown steady improvement.
He has drawn against the paint and has his first run at Greyville. Recent maiden winner Eddie Sweat is also thrown into the deep end by trainer Frank Robinson. The son of Imperial Stride did not beat much of note when winning his maiden at his fourth start over the Scottsville 1400m. His formline has shown improvement at every start though, and he should be monitored as a likely Quartet kicker.
We have seen that this race can be a launching pad to better things. Taarish is the selection to get the better of Golden High and Henry Of York. Emperor Niarchos is fit and experienced and could upset the applecart. As usual at Greyville, keep an eye on the weather and the prevailing track conditions.