JACK MILNER: IT has to be something of a record for one jockey to win the same Grade 1 race for three successive years on three different horses for three different stables.
Over the past three years the Grade 1 Champions Cup has belonged to Raymond Danielson and he could make it four in a row when he lines up aboard Castlethorpe in the 1800m race at Greyville.
In 2009 Danielson won aboard Ivory Trail for Joey Ramsden, in 2010 he rode Orbison to victory for Herman Brown and last year he got The Apache home for Gavin van Zyl. A detailed look at the form indicates there is a lot to like about Mike Bass-trained Castlethorpe.
For a start, on merit ratings he is the best-weighted runner. He is 1kg better off with Tales Of Bravery, has a 2.5kg advantage over Pierre Jourdan and Chesalon and is even better off with the balance of the field. The Australian-bred gelding is drawn well at No 6 and had run four excellent races prior to his shocker in the Vodacom Durban July.
Castlethorpe won two races over 1200m before finishing a 2.30-length sixth behind Delago Deluxe in the Grade 1 Golden Horse Casino Sprint at Scottsville where he was drawn on the wrong side of the track. He performed superbly in the Grade 1 Gold Challenge when a 1.25-length second behind arguably the country’s best 1600m runner – Variety Club.
He placed last in the Durban July but came back coughing. “Some 10 days before the July he had a bit of a temperature,’’ said assistant trainer Robert Fayd’Herbe. “We thought of not running him but did and in retrospect it was probably the wrong decision. He’s bounced back to himself and his work is very good.’’
Black Wing has been priced up at 14-1 and could be very good Eachway value. Four of his five career wins have come at Greyville and he looks to be peaking at the right time. The Kahal gelding moved to Cape Town to join Brett Crawford’s yard but was brought back to KwaZulu-Natal for the season. He has raced twice for a fourth over 1500m and a fast-finishing second in the KZN Breeders over 1600m at this track and should be perfectly primed for this race.
He could give Crawford and jockey Karis Teetan some minor consolation for the poor performance of Jackson in the Durban July.
Mike de Kock sends out Solo Traveller who will run with blinkers for the first time. “He tends to lack a bit of early toe but kicks on nicely,’’ said assistant Nathan Kotzen. “Maybe it’s the wrong race to start him in blinkers but you have to do it somewhere. He had a great July run and is good enough to win here.’’