JACK MILNER: THERE is R1-million on offer in the KZN Breeders 1600 (Non-Black Type) over 1600m at Greyville on Sunday but it does not look an easy race for punters to decipher.
There is also a Pick 6 carryover to this meeting with an estimated pool of R2 million so there is a lot at stake, not only for owners, trainers and jockeys, but for punters as well.
A full field of 16 horses is expected to go to post for this race which is open solely to three and four-year-olds who were bred in KwaZulu-Natal and it is a conditions race.
It is a very tough affair and the problem facing punters is that many of the leading lights are poorly drawn, which is a curse over this course and distance. As a result it may pay to follow the better-drawn horses who have good form.
Perhaps best of them could be Shahruhk, trained by Garth Puller in Durban for his brother Glen. A three-year-old son of King Of Kings, Shahruhk is drawn No 1, has Felix Coetzee in the irons and carries just 53.5kg. He is one of the better-weighted runners in the field and has improved markedly since being fitted with blinkers in his penultimate start. He was gelded in January and made a splendid comeback when running a 0.75-length second to Brown Penny in a 1400m race at this course two weeks back.
There are two major concerns. The first is the distance. Shahruhk has yet to prove he goes 1600m although he did finish a 2.75-length third behind Crown Hill over this distance at Kenilworth in November last year. The other worry is that this will be his second run following the layoff and many horses are known to go flat in these circumstances.
The best performer is undoubtedly Black Wing. He loves this course, having run at Greyville eight times for four wins, including both his runs over this distance. Unfortunately he jumps from barrier No 11 and will need some luck.
Before being sent to Cape Town to be trained by Brett Crawford, Black Wing had contested three Grade 1 races. He finished fourth in last year’s Daily News 2000, beaten just 0.95 lengths by The Apache, last in the Vodacom Durban July and was again well beaten in the Sansui Summer Cup at Turffontein.
Crawford first raced him in a warm-up sprint at Kenilworth but after that he won a Pinnacle Stakes over 1600m at the same course. In his last start – his first since returning to KwaZulu-Natal – Black Wing did well to run a 4.60-length fourth behind Rushing Wind in an Allowance Plate over 1500m at Clairwood.
Karis Teetan, who will be aboard favourite Jackson in next week’s Vodacom Durban July, takes the ride and could get an early present should Black Wing win.
Silver Age looks to be a decent enough three-year-old to win a race of this nature. Trained by Jeffrey Freedman, he has won two of his seven starts and placed on three other occasions. He has won at Greyville, so the course is not a concern. MJ Byleveld takes the ride and they jump from barrier No 6.
It is always hard to ignore Mike de Kock in big races and he saddles Checcetti. The daughter of Kahal has some excellent form, including a win over 2010 Sansui Summer Cup winner Flirtation in the Jacaranda Handicap over 1800m. She has not raced at the course but will have the services of jockey Anthony Delpech and a crucial No 4 draw.
Baracah is rarely far behind the winners but will need loads of luck and all the skill and cunning jockey Piere Strydom can muster to overcome a wide draw.