Whenever you run your finger down the list of carded runners, you invariably stop for a closer look at anything trained by Mike de Kock and owned by Sheik Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum. The combination catches the attention, just as the blue and white silks do the race commentators.
Racing is a business at the sharp end of the game, not a mere hobby. The top owners and trainers are in it to win. They expect to win. There’s little room for sentiment in their decision-making.
So, while Catch Twentytwo looks a lively rival in Saturday’s SA Classic at Turffontein, it’s impossible to look beyond Malmoos who represents the powerful De Kock-Sheik Hamdan partnership in this second leg of the Triple Crown. They meet three weeks after Malmoos held on to win by a quarter-of-a-length after hitting the front a long way out.
Over the extra 200m this time there is no reason to suggest that Catch Twentytwo can’t turn the tables and that’s probably the reason why he’s 22-10 second favourite. Malmoos meanwhile, is “only” 13-10 favourite.
I say “only”, because I feel he should be around even money and that 13-10 is a good price.
He’s a winner of five of his six starts, with the only blemish being in the Cape Guineas. We touched on that in last week’s column when I advised against backing the winner of that race, Russian Rock, in the Derby. He started third favourite and ran unplaced.
Malmoos’ Cape form is better explained when he beat the talented Linebacker by half a length over 1600m in November. The latter won last week’s Cape Derby. The more we analyse the Cape Guineas race, the more we can draw a line through the form.
When Malmoos won the first leg of the Triple Crown, the Gauteng Guineas over 1600m, he started 47-20 favourite. That is the widest his odds have been in all six starts. His going into the gates odds have been: 5-10, 21-20, 19-20, 4-10, 14-10 and 47-20. And he’s won five times. He’s clearly one of De Kock’s better three-year-olds.
Now he goes 1800m and the slight worry might be that he races too handy and hits the front too early in the straight, inviting his challengers for a fight to the finish from a long way out. But, he’s proven he’s got heart and he’s proven he has got ability.
De Kock, being the master that he is, will have left some conditioning to work on in the past three weeks and I feel that Malmoos will again deliver, although Catch Twentytwo justifiably has his many followers. Still, the two should be the exacta, with Second Base completing the trifecta. It might not pay bombs, but rather stand in the queue holding a winning ticket than a 100-1 losing one.
The second leg of the (fillies) Triple Tiara looks at War Of Athena’s mercy given she won’t be renewing her rivalry with Anything Goes.
War Of Athena won the first leg, the Gauteng Fillies Guineas and never looked threatened and the extra 200m won’t be of any inconvenience. She’s 3-10 in the betting for a reason. De Kock has entered the Silvano filly Sparkling Water, who is merit rated 92 (War Of Athena is a 122) and who is some 15kg out at the weights with the favourite. Still, De Kock’s filly looks to have plenty of scope for improvement.
Sean Tarry sends out two runners and jockey Lyle Hewitson would have had the choice and he’s decided to ride the disappointing Caralluma, who has 13 lengths to find with War Of Athena on their previous run.
Cape racing is at Kenilworth and the advice is to follow trainer Candice Bass-Robinson throughout Saturday’s card. She has a number of races where she has winning chances, specifically Global Goddess (race 2), Benjamin (race 3), La Banquiere (race 4), Adios Amigos (race 6) and Greenlightflash (race 8).
The Bass Racing stable advise GGG punters that their best bet on the day is Benjamin.