IT takes a special horse to win the R1-million Gold Cup. We sum up the chances of the runners in this year’s event.
1 – SEAL
Trainer Gavin van Zyl’s charge regained the level of form that saw him win last year’s SA Derby when taking the 3000m Gold Vase on Durban July Day. Nine of these rivals finished behind him that day and a three-point penalty for that victory results in him meeting them all on worse terms at the weights. Has shown he stays well and should make a bold bid, despite a wide draw.
Record: 21 runs; 5 wins; 8 places. Earnings R1,478,588.
2 – ILSANPIETRO (Brz)
The Mike de Kock-trained import finished fourth behind ASLAN (1.5kg better off) in the 2011 Gold Cup, but has not won since last October. His merit rating is starting to drop though and he is bound to become competitive again as it comes down, so while he looks held by SEAL (1.5kg worse off) on Gold Vase form, he must be included in Trifectas and Quartets.
Record: 33 runs; 7 wins; 17 places. Earnings R1,393,150.
3 – BLAKE
With Karl Neisius in the irons, this five-year-old looks the Dean Kannemeyer stable elect. Had seven of these rivals behind him when winning the 2400m Lonsdale Stirrup Cup last month, but meets them all on much worse terms. Went on to finish second to Tribal Dance in the Schweppes 2200. First time this far, but has won well over 2800m and should stay. Huge chance.
Record: 27 runs; 9 wins; 13 places. Earnings R853,698.
4 – SAGE THRONE
Colin Scott’s runner was outclassed in the Durban July, but had previously run well in both the President’s Champions Challenge, in which SEAL was 0.50 lengths further back, and the Lonsdale Stirrup Cup when finishing fast and beaten only a neck by BLAKE (3kg worse off) after being hampered at the 200m mark. First time beyond 2400m but tough rival if he stays.
Record: 15 runs; 4 wins; 3 places. Earnings R392,400.
5 – TOP SELLER
The 2011 Cape Derby winner had only one run from April last year to this May. Did not do badly in his comeback, finishing second to Gold Onyx in the Sledgehammer over 1800m, but then finished unplaced in both the Greyville 1900 and the Durban July, in which he made much of the running. Should strip cherryripe, but first time this far and is not well drawn.
Record: 18 runs; 3 wins; 8 places. Earnings R1,088,630.
6 – IN WRITING (Arg)
Kannemeyer’s second runner relishes marathons and is weighted to beat SEAL (1kg worse off) on Gold Vase form, having finished a 0.75-length second to his rival. Had failed previously in his biggest tests and has twice been beaten by BLAKE, so it is hard to fancy him ahead of his stable companion. But there’s not much between them on some evidence and he must be included in Quartets.
Record: 31 runs; 5 wins; 14 places. Earnings R600,960.
7 – CAPTAIN’S WILD
The second of De Kock’s four runners, he is not well drawn and failed in this race last year, although something must have gone wrong because he was not seen out again till April. Has taken time to peak but has finished fourth in his last two starts, behind BLAKE (2kg worse off) in the Lonsdale Stirrup Cup and then Tribal Dance in the Schweppes 2200m. Drawn wide and may not stay.
Record: 16 runs; 5 wins; 5 places. Earnings R867,925.
8 – GORONGOSA (Ire)
The De Kock-trained mare was well backed for the Durban July and although she was always expected to find 2200m too short, she fared disappointingly in finishing third last after being hindered early. Near-perfect record before that with her successes including an annihilation of her rivals in the 3200m Gold Bowl at Turffontein. Stays all day, classy and has a strong chance.
Record: 13 runs; 9 wins; 2 places. Earnings R846,611.
9 – ASLAN
Last year’s Gold Cup winner has placed only twice in eight races since and faded badly in the Gold Vase this month. Better effort before that and trainer Sean Tarry’s charge is 3.5kg better off with GORONGOSA for a 3.75-length beating over 2800m at Clairwood in June. Could place from a good draw but his poor last run is an obvious worry.
Record: 31 runs; 5 wins; 10 places. Earnings R2,267,880.
10 – PRINCESS OF LIGHT
Trainer Geoff Woodruff’s charge rarely runs a bad race and finished a 3.75-length third behind GORONGOSA (2.5kg worse off) in the Gold Bowl over 3200m at Turffontein in April in her penultimate start. First time at Greyville, but the short straight should not be a problem for this front-runner and she has won in KwaZulu-Natal before. First run for two months but deserves respect.
Record: 18 runs; 6 wins; 8 places. Earnings R724,000
11 – SOUL MASTER
The other Woodruff runner. Faded badly in the Schweppes 2200 this month and was reported to be blowing heavily. Better form before that includes a second to stablemate PRINCESS OF LIGHT (2kg worse off) as well as third-place finishes behind BLAKE (2kg worse off) and SAGE THRONE (1kg better off) in the Lonsdale Stirrup Cup and Atyeb in the Caradoc Gold Cup.
Record: 17 runs; 5 wins; 4 places. Earnings R392,275.
12 – VETTEL (Arg)
The fourth runner from the De Kock stable, he is most consistent and ran a solid race in the Durban July, in which he was in the thick of the fight for a long time and finished a 1.40-length sixth behind Pomodoro. Was expected to find that distance sharp, having scored two of his three wins over marathon trips, and should relish this 3200m. Tops the shortlist of possible winners in a tricky race.
Record: 9 runs; 3 wins; 5 places. Earnings R414,650.
13 – CROC VALLEY
One of four horses from the Mike Bass stable and has a touch of class. In form and was second to Feel My Love in the Queen Palm Handicap over 2400m at Clairwood last month. Travels beyond that distance for the first time and has not won in five starts at Greyville. This mare is well drawn, but she’s untried at this distance and makes little appeal on her overall form.
Record: 30 runs; 6 wins; 13 places. Earnings R532,275.
14 – HEYOUNEVERKNOW (Brz)
One of trainer Corne Spies’ two runners, she was backed at long odds for the 3200m Gold Bowl and nearly justified the support in finishing second to GORONGOSA. Then travelled to Port Elizabeth for the PE Gold Cup and finished second to stablemate CAMPO DE SANTANA (3kg worse off) before running fifth behind SEAL (1kg worse off) in the Gold Vase. Chance.
Record: 33 runs; 3 wins; 13 places. Earnings R357,350.
15 – SUN CITY
Has had just two runs for trainer Corinne Bestel, finishing a 4.50-length fifth behind GORONGOSA (5.5kg worse off) and then a 6.50-length seventh behind SEAL (1.5kg worse off) in the Gold Vase. Has not placed in any of his attempts beyond 2500m and there’s no reason to suppose he will stay this journey, plus this seven-year-old is drawn widest of all. Should battle to shape.
Record: 53 runs; 7 wins; 14 places. Earnings R469,125.
16 – THANKS JOHN
Another Bass-trained runner, it has been a while since he showed any enthusiasm for a fight and even the addition of blinkers to his equipment has done little to change that. He faded badly in the Gold Vase and also finished unplaced in the Lonsdale Stirrup Cup, although he wasn’t far back. The handicapper has dropped his merit rating another point, but he still makes little appeal.
Record: 31 runs; 7 wins; 9 places. Earnings R506,965.
17 – KOLKATA
Tarry’s second runner finished a good second to stable companion ASLAN (2.5kg better off) in this race last year and has enjoyed a satisfactory preparation for this year’s Gold Cup. Was not 100% fit in the Gold Vase and his trainer was happy with the four-year-old’s third place behind SEAL (1kg worse off) and IN WRITING. Cherryripe now and set to fight out the finish again.
Record: 18 runs; 3 wins; 10 places. Earnings R489,550.
18 – GOLDEN PARACHUTE (NZ)
The third Bass-trained runner, he finished downfield in this race last year and will need to improve dramatically on his recent form if he is to have a say in the finish this time. Posted back-to-back victories over 2400m and 2700m at Fairview in March and April, but then lost the way again and has been well beaten in his last three races. Lightly weighted.
Record: 48 runs; 6 wins; 10 places. Earnings R582,225.
19 – CAMPO DE SANTANA
Spies’ runner won the 3600m PE Gold Cup in his penultimate start and had excuses when sixth behind SEAL (1kg worse off) in the Gold Vase on July Day because he started slowly and over-raced. He is well travelled, having raced on the Highveld and in Kimberley, Port Elizabeth and Durban in the last six months, and doesn’t look up to shaping in a contest of this calibre.
Record: 51 runs; 4 wins; 16 places. Earnings R304,250.
20 – JEPPE’S REEF
This Bass runner finished fifth in this race last year. Faded badly behind GORONGOSA (3.5kg worse off) over 2800m at Clairwood in June, but was then less than two lengths behind Tribal Dance in the Schweppes 2200 at Greyville this month. He is now 1kg and 1.5kg worse off respectively with BLAKE (second) and CAPTAIN’S WILD (fourth). Stays well and has a light weight.
Record: 24 runs; 3 wins; 10 places. Earnings R235,529.