Last weekend we were given a taste of what to expect this coming KwaZulu-Natal season when Greyville hosted both Grade 2 three-year-old Guineas. As readers of this column will know, my opinion is unshakeable that the standard and depth of Cape racing is the strongest in the country and that was again on display last week.
In Johannesburg, on the final day of the Gauteng season, the Cape sprinter Rio Querari was the only runner for the day representing trainer Justin Snaith and the horse came home like a true star to win the Computaform Sprint and stamp himself as the fastest horse over 1000m in the country.
A day later, as the curtain lifted on the KZN season, another Snaith runner, Captain’s Ransom, showed her credentials – frankly she has won six of her seven races to date and I rate her the best middle-distance filly in SA – while Cape Derby winner Linebacker took out the WSB Guineas.
Cape runners finished 1-2-4 in the KZN Fillies Guineas and 1-2-3-4 in the KZN colts Guineas with MK’s Pride representing Gauteng, beaten into fifth. He’d previously beaten War Of Athena and got to within half a length of Gotthegreenlight, both of whom are themselves stars.
I’m certainly not trying to drive a wedge between the provinces here. The message is simply to applaud the cross-province competition, but at the same time provide some advice that I reckon you’ll make a considerable profit over the next couple of months if you stick to the Cape formlines and follow the Cape horses who have made the trip up to KwaZulu-Natal.
Of course they won’t dominate, and in fact Gotthegreenlight is a worthy favourite of the jewel in the crown, the Vodacom Durban July. But, that Cape form, from the juveniles to the three-year-olds specifically, is going to hold up and will pay to follow.
With that in mind the KZN racing this weekend is on Sunday at Scottsville. Be warned, it’s not an easy course for a first-time visitor to handle, as it’s the only course with a stiff slightly uphill run in to the finish. It’s always a test of stamina late ina. race.
Having said that, races five, six and seven are Grade 3 events and the cape challengers are well represented although I’m not as bullish as I would have been had the meeting been at Greyville. Gauteng trainer Sean Tarry is also represented and he has Lyle Hewitosn riding for him, so those runners must be respected.
However, what I’m most looking forward to is the sixth race, the Godolphin Barb Stakes over 1100m. It puts the two Cape juveniles, Cosmic Highway and Safe Return against one another, although they are drawn at Nos 1 and 10, respectively. Both look highly classy and could finish 1-2 and in so doing I might be inclined to go with the lesser fancied of the two, Safe Return, to spring the “upset”. Both have bigger fish to fry though in the coming months, and come off rests, which might bring Good Traveller into it.
The Cape meeting is at Kenilworth and will be held on Saturday.
Trainer Candice Bass-Robinson looks set for a successful day and she has chances of a treble with Ovation (race one), Bel Punto (race four) and Majestic Mozart (race five, pictured by Chase Liebenberg).
The latter has only won two of his 26 races but has earned over R1-million for his owners – of which this writer is part – and had an eye-catching return after a break when second over the 1400m last time out. He will be better suited to the 1600m and should go close to winning for that elusive third time.