FOUR Grade 1 sprints will be run at Scottsville on Saturday and Nicci Garner and Jack Milner had a chat to some of the trainers of the big-race runners.
Vaughan Marshall: I’m excited, but also a bit nervous! They’ll all need a bit of luck. Valdivia’s (Allan Robertson Championship) preparation has gone very well but she will need all the luck she can get to keep her unbeaten record intact. I’m very hopeful. All A Secret is her danger. She’s done everything we’ve asked of her. She was unlucky in a Grade 2 race last time out when she stumbled coming out of the gates. She hit the front and then started looking round, racing very greenly on the course. It’s a hard track to win on if the horse hasn’t been there before, but she’ll be more experienced at Scottsville this time. She’d probably be better over 1400m but her prep has gone very well indeed. Valdivia is the stable elect. It would be great to run 1-2! Twitter (Tsogo Sun Medallion) has done very well since coming to KwaZulu-Natal, having won at Clairwood in his first start here. But it’s a very competitive field and a lot of horses have chances. Northern Conquest (Race 3) was outclassed in the Natal Guineas in his last run, so you can draw a line through that. He ran well in a Listed race before that and must be in with a big chance in this Allowance Plate. Roman Wall looks his danger. He won well after a bit of a break earlier this month. And Straw Market must have a big chance as well.
Mike de Kock: This 1200m is probably a bit short for Al Kindi (Allan Robertson Championship). She ran a good race over the course and distance last time. I rate her as Group class over 1600m and further so the faster they go early on, the more it will suit her. Lonsome Dove, on the other hand, is very fast and my question is whether she will get the 1200m. Reign As Kings (Tsogo Sun Medallion) is a very forward juvenile although he is not a big horse. He had an abscess on his foot which is why he didn’t run in the last feature (Grade 2 Umkhomazi Stakes). The distance is no problem. I think he will get 1400m. It’s whether he’s up to it or not. Ability-wise this field is a lot stronger than he’s met and he will have to up his game. Welwitschia (SA Fillies Sprint) 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 gets 1400m and will be running on at the end. Her last win at Turffontein was excellent even if she did not beat very much. She does tend to lose ground at the start although last time she didn’t give away too much. She’s getting better. This is the race of the day. You have three or four smart fillies with two generations represented. Link Man (Golden Horse Casino Sprint) had a good rest during his suspension after bleeding in the Queen’s Plate. I’ve done as much as I can do at home. He is fresh and comes on strongly at the end, so if there is a fast pace, it will suit him.
Dean Kannemeyer: Cape Royal (Tsogo Sun Medallion) is a very smart horse. He’s a speed horse, by Royal Academy out of a Medicean mare and he won well over the hard Kenilworth 1000m first time out. He won like we expected him to win – he’d shown brilliant times before we raced him and duly delivered. Unfortunately he had a slight setback. He was supposed to run 2½ weeks later, but missed that race and the Nursery because of mucus on his lungs, so we had to go easily on him for 10 days – and wait a while before he could travel to Durban. He’s had one grass gallop, and I was very pleased with the way he went. I would have liked for him to have one more run under his belt because it’s not easy for a juvenile to go into a Grade 1 race second time out. But he’s got class and has done as much as possible in a slightly interrupted training programme. I wouldn’t have brought him here if I didn’t think he would be competitive. The Kannemeyer yard doesn’t normally run horses in juvenile races. But with him, we’ve got to give it a go. Depardieu (Golden Horse Casino Sprint) is a smart horse. He won well over 1400m Scottsville in his second-last start and then ran a good race for a three-year-old in the Drill Hall Stakes. He moved up and looked dangerous and then I thought, he went up and down. This is a tough call for him, but we decided to put him to the test. He is doing very well. It’s an open race. I always have a great deal of respect for What A Winter. At his very best – and if he handles Scottsville – they’ll all have to run to beat him. What does concern me is that Karl Neisius, who normally rides him, is on Castlethorpe this time. And there are other well-performed sprinters in the field. The Shark (Golden Horse Casino Sprint) thrives in Durban. He hasn’t put foot wrong. He is 2kg under sufferance, but ran what I thought was a great race in the Drill Hall Stakes, flying from the back to run only 3.10 lengths behind Tales Of Bravery. This is a different ballgame for him, though. Queen Mira (Race 9, debut for Kannemeyer) is not an easy filly to train. She’s unsound. But we’ve managed to get her sound and decided to let her go out and enjoy herself. We’ll assess her after this race.
Weiho Marwing: My horses will be travelling down on Friday morning. Ziparana (Tsogo Sun Medallion) is a very nice horse and is well. He’s obviously got to travel but is a sensible horse and must have a winning chance. Danesco (Tsogo Sun Medallion) is also a nice horse. He’s done nothing wrong and is also in good shape. The dangers? Mike de Kock’s horse, Reign As Kings has won his last three in a row and must be respected. Another danger is Cape Royal. Moroccan (Golden Horse Casino Sprint) has been set a tough task but is in good spirits and is very well at the moment. He ran third in this race the year before last and is better off at the weights this time. He’ll run well. What A Winter is a top sprinter; Delago Deluxe is a very smart young horse and obviously Castlethorpe must be respected. They’re all top horses, though.
Glen Kotzen: Princess Victoria (SA Fillies Sprint) is a freak, something else! The No 10 draw is not a concern because she has a lot of speed and will be tracking the right horses. 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. Fly Me Over (Tsogo Sun Medallion) is flying. It’s interesting that he was the first two-year-old to win open company in KwaZulu-Natal this year and his time on day was a second faster than the horses who won the two feature races over the same distance that day, Australian import Ottimo and Straight Set. That’s got to worth something! We don’t know how good he is. And He’s improved a lot from that debut run. It’s a very competitive field, though. The horse who keeps standing out to me is Cape Royal, who won very impressively in Cape Town. But the race is open. Ulwandle (Race 2) runs in the same colours as Princess Victoria and it was nice to give him another runner on the day. She’s running against the colts this time and the merit rating system does not give sex allowances because they’re built in at the beginning. But we’ve put Keagan de Melo on her and his 1.5kg claim will do a lot to offset that. She’s looking well and will be competitive. Political Playboy (Race 3) is on the up. We prepped him for the Greyville 1900 to test him, but decided to go the easy route. He’s spot on and is a horse you’ve got to follow. Prizefighter (Race 3) is out at weights but is never far off them. Wings Over Skye (Race 9) is better at 1400m but is a very fit filly with a competent jockey. She must be competitive in a field like that!
Justin Snaith: Ebony Flyer (SA Fillies Sprint) is doing well. After her run in the Majorca Stakes on Met Day she had another wind operation and it seems to have worked well. She’s got a long Durban and Cape Town season ahead of her and this is certainly a prep run. It’s on the sharp side for her, but she’s very good and can do any distance from 100m to 2000m, though her ideal distance is 1600m. There wasn’t much else to prep her in. She’s a classy filly and this is the route Dancer’s Daughter took en-route to her Durban July win. We’ll have to see how things go towards the July, but that field is starting to look much more open now. Comtesse Dubois (SA Fillies Sprint) is doing a bit better and we’re giving her a chance to run a place in a big race. It’ won’t be easy for her but at Scottsville, you never know. State Blue (SA Fillies Sprint) is doing well at home and she could be a filly for the first four. She’s tough as nails but it’s a very competitive race. There are some very good fillies in the field, but perhaps Princess Victoria is the horse you’ve got to respect the most. It would be disappointing if the results are determined by the draws again this year. This is Scottsville’s biggest raceday and, given the track managers have had a year to sort it out, I’m hoping the track will be even all round.
Mike Bass: What A Winter (Golden Horse Casino Sprint) is not necessarily the stable elect because of his big weight. But he’s had a better preparation this time than for the Computaform Sprint (ran third behind Shea Shea) and will have come on for that run – he hadn’t run for a while before that. He was haemoconcentrating a couple of weeks ago, but that seems to have stabilised now and we’ve got him going very well. I’m expecting a big run from him. He is drawn in the right place – the other two are not that well drawn, given Scottsville’s draw bias – but he’ll be giving weight to some very smart horses. His dangers? They must be Castlethorpe and Delago Deluxe, who is at the bottom of the weights, as well as Antious, who disappointed last time out but will be a threat if back to his best. Castlethorpe’s (Golden Horse Casino Sprint) form reads very well. He beat Rushing Wind and Captain’s Secret in a Port Elizabeth sprint feature and went on to win over 1200m at Clairwood, beating some fair sorts. He’s definitely fit and in with a chance. Rushing Wind (Golden Horse Casino Sprint) missed the summer season in Cape Town because of a niggling ligament injury. He’s getting on a bit now, but still rises to the big occasion and ran second here once before (behind JJ The Jet Plane in 2010). I’m hoping he can do well again this time, although I’m not sure if he’s got the juice still.
Kom Naidoo: I’ve only had SA Fillies Nursery winner King’s Temptress (Allan Robertson Championship) for 2½ weeks, but she seems to have made the transition from Kimberley well. Her work has been good. I’m very pleased with her. She seems to have progressed since that debut win and she will run a very good race. Valdivia looks her major danger. I don’t think the No 10 draw will be a problem because it’s not a big field. Firm Approach (Race 1) is coming off a long rest and may just need the run. Handsome Fellow (Race 1) is working quite well with the blinkers and although he has a wide draw to overcome, he could run into the money.
Gavin van Zyl: I’m hoping that Franny (Allan Robertson Championship) can get a good start this time. Anthony Delpech said she played up in the starting stalls in the SA Fillies Nursery last time out (when third behind King’s Temptress) and that was the reason she jumped slowly. She likes to be handy or lead and I’m hoping she gets a good start this time. She’s well in herself, is in a good place and I’m happy with her work. I hope we’ll see the best of her again this time. Valdivia looks a good filly and you have to respect King’s Temptress. That said, I think Franny is better than her last run and will be in the hunt. Fire Curtain (Race 2) will be competitive in this race. Cherry On The Cake (Race 9) did not stay over 2000m in that class in the Gerald Rosenberg Stakes but should have a chance over 1600m in this division.
Duncan Howells: Romantic Moon (SA Fillies Sprint) is in a very tough race – I’m hoping she’ll run in the first four to get black type for her pedigree. Her preparation’s gone fine. She’s very well in herself and her work has been good. I’ve put blinkers on her to give her a bit more pace. Princess Victoria will be very difficult to beat, though. I thought the 1900m of Sparkle With Speed’s (Race 1) last race was too far for him. He’s obviously limited in ability, but is well in himself. He has a Quartet chance. It will depend on what mood Bwana Macube (Race 2) is in, although he does seem to have found a bit of consistency recently. He’s well and has a good jockey. He has an Eachway chance. Spondulics (Race 4) is my best runner on the day. It’ll take a good horse to beat her. She ran a very good race last time out, is still well in herself and is well drawn.
Ormond Ferraris: Snowdon (Golden Horse Casino Sprint) is a genuine fellow who never runs a bad race. His best trip is 1200m to 1400m and he has plenty of pace. I believe the Scottsville 1200m will suit him and I’m hoping the trip won’t be in vain and that he will run a really nice race. As for the draw, we’ll take our chances. Besides, Scottsville is a very hard track to win at. I gelded Straw Market (Race 3) and he ran a much better race last time out in his first run since the operation. I hope he keeps on improving. He’s not a bad horse on his day.
Dennis Drier: Blizzard Of Ozz and Potent Power (Tsogo Sun Medallion) are in an open two-year-old race. A lot of the juvenile form this year has been topsy-turvy but with Soft Falling Rain not in the line-up it is very open. I hope my two can finish in the money. Blizzard Of Ozz’s formline is very strong and I’m leaning his way, although Indaba My Children, who ran second to Potent Power earlier this month, came out subsequently and won. Dance At Daylight (Race 3) is an old battler. I’m hoping he can run a place for his owners. Race 4 is the right race for Ninth Symphony and she’s a big runner. Her last run was very good (ran third to Bermuda Sloop over 1600m at Greyville), but in these MR 70-something Handicaps, you get upsets. Happy Heart is suited to the conditions of Race 9 and will be right there.