NICCI GARNER: PRINCESS VICTORIA, a horse her trainer calls “a freak, something else!”, returns to the scene of her first major triumph and looks set to flatten her opponents once again.
Glen Kotzen’s star charge took no prisoners in the Allan Robertson Championship over the Scottsville 1200m last year, beating Up Front by an easy 3.25 lengths and barely raising a sweat.
She has gone on to further feature-race success since recording her third career victory that day, taking the Golden Slipper at Greyville, the Choice Carrier’s Championship at Kenilworth, the Cape Fillies Guineas at Kenilworth and most recently, the Poinsettia Stakes at Clairwood. The only (arguable) blur on her record was a good third against the colts in the Cape Guineas in December – a good effort because she hit the front a bit early and was outgunned by Variety Club and Silver Flyer, arguably the two leading 1600m three-year-olds seen out so far this season.
Princess Victoria is fully effective from 1200m to 1600m and the only block that is not ticked is the draw. She will jump from stall No 10 at a track where low-number draws are often critical.
Kotzen is unfazed by the draw: “It is not a concern because she has a lot of speed and will be tracking the right horses,” he said. “Her prep has been great and she’ll be spot on come Saturday.
“Plus, she gets the 2kg from the older horses. She’s only bumped older horses once in her career and that was when she won her last start at weight-for-age. She pulled hard and was above herself in the race. But she’s now had a run and a gallop after that and will be cherryripe.”
Welwitschia was one of the horses who contributed to a red-letter day for owner Mary Slack and champion trainer Mike de Kock on Champions Day at Turffontein last month when she won the Camellia Stakes and she will be a force to be reckoned with if she can repeat that run in her first outing at Scottsville.
Said De Kock: “This is the race of the day! You have three or four smart fillies with two generations represented.
“Welwitschia has had a great prep. I’m really happy with that filly. I think she has come on. She is a Group 1-quality filly and will get older and better.”
She’s A Stunner was only 1.60 lengths behind Princess Victoria in third place in the Poinsettia Stakes and must be respected, while Ebony Flyer will have many supporters.
The Justin Snaith-trained filly showed courage to win the Majorca Stakes on Met Day in January and has had another operation to correct her breathing since then. However, Snaith confirms that “she is doing well and the operation seems to have worked (this time)”.
He is quick to point out that, although 1600m is Ebony Flyer’s optimal trip, she “can do any distance from 100m to 2000m. She is a classy filly.”
Others with place chances include State Blue and Chocolicious.