(6 March 2014)
The ongoing rain across many parts of South Africa is disrupting the racing programme and Phumelela and Gold Circle want to minimise the risk of losing more meetings to the weather.
Consequently, the race meeting at Clairwood tomorrow Friday 7 March (originally a Greyville night meeting) has been moved to Saturday. The weather forecast for Durban is improving and the one-day postponement will give the fixture a better chance of taking place.
As things stand now there will be three South African meetings on Saturday afternoon â€" Clairwood, Durbanville and Turffontein â€" but thereâ€™s a strong possibility that the Turffontein fixture may have to be postponed.
â€śWe have had 110mm of rain in the last three days at Turffontein and the track is very wet,â€ť said Phumelela horseracing executive Patrick Davis.
â€śWhether Saturdayâ€™s meeting will be able to go ahead is dependent on the weather, but the forecast is not promising. If need be we will move the meeting to Sunday and then to next Wednesday night if itâ€™s not possible to race on Sunday. There are six feature races on the card and are all feeder races to SA Classic Day, so they must be run and as soon as possible.â€ť
A decision whether to go ahead with racing at Turffontein as planned on Saturday will only be made on the morning of the meeting, unless it is obvious by Friday afternoon that the track is too wet.
â€śConsequently we are not announcing revised times for Saturdayâ€™s Clairwood meeting as yet, but instead waiting until we know if there will be racing at Turffontein on Saturday,â€ť Davis said.
(6 March 2014)
The Gr1 Jebel Hatta heads the card at the Super Saturday meeting at Meydan in Dubai this weekend and Mike de Kock and Godolphin could possibly fight out the finish again as they did last year with Sajjhaa and The Apache, this time with Vercingetorix and Vancouverite respectively.
The Jebel Hatta is the eighth and last race at a meeting that will provide some thrilling racing and the sight of twice Equus Horse Of The Year Variety Club, who runs in the Gr3 Burj Nahaar over 1 600m on the tapeta, will be the most spell binding spectacle of the night if he manages to show his awesome best yet again.
Vercingetorix made his overseas debut in the Ford Taurus Handicap over course and distance on February 13 where he quickened well from a handy position under Christophe Soumillon and the line came quickly enough for him to hold on.
The Silvano colt will never win by far, as he tends to idle when in front, and that was also his first run since winning the Gr1 Daily News 2000 at Greyville in June last year.
De Kockâ€™s assistant trainer Trevor Brown confirmed on the Tellytrack show Winning Ways earlier this week that Vercingetorix had come on from that run.
He jumps from a barrier draw of two which could be advantageous if Soumillon manages to get him into a handy position again.
De Kock and Kevin Shea won the Jebel Hatta with Master Of Hounds two years ago and the maestro trainer has three other entries this year.
Mars is the highest rated of his runners on 117 and the brilliant Richard Hughes rides, albeit from the widest draw of 14. Mars didnâ€™t appear to enjoy the tapeta in his Dubai debut behind Variety Club, but it could be a different story on turf.
His best career performance was a 2,75 lengths third behind the champion Dawn Approach in the Gr1 St James Palace Stakes over a mile at Royal Ascot last year and, if he can reproduce that effort over this suitable distance, he rates a chance.
The Australian-bred Mushreq is officially rated the same as Vercingetorix on 113, but is far more exposed. However, he has been consistent this season and could earn over his probable optimum trip.
The Argentinian-bred Anaerobio has regained his confidence since being limited to 1 400m by De Kock and is a Gr1 winner on firm going over 2 000m on turf, so canâ€™t be discounted.
The Charlie Appleby-trained Vancouverite is Godolphinâ€™s sole representative and this Gr2 winner over 2 000m on good ground returns from a six month layoff, so it is hard to say how well he will do.
Vercingetorixâ€™s biggest danger could come from the 115 rated Trade Storm, who ran on in eyecatching style from last in the Gr2 Zabeel Mile last time out and he should relish the step up in trip, having also run on well for fourth in last yearâ€™s Gr 1 Dubai Duty Free over the Jebel Hatta course and distance. However, Trade Stormâ€™s chances could depend on the pace as he usually comes from last.
The Joey Ramsden-trained Var entire Variety Club is easily the highest rated horse on 120 in the Gr3 Burj Nahaar over 1 600m on the tapeta and his wide draw of eleven shouldnâ€™t be a problem due to his excellent gatespeed and high cruising speed. Brown said, â€śHeâ€™s thriving, heâ€™s a machine.â€ť
The De Kock-trained Zahee is fancied to fight out second place with Avon Pearl, although Haatheq, Forjatt and Shuruq canâ€™t be ignored either.
The De Kock-trained Ashaawes gelding Sanshaawes has had a fine season out there and goes for a hat-trick in the Gr1 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3 over 2000m on the tapeta. He is drawn wide but has Soumillon aboard and when he last ran over course and distance he won with something to spare despite reportedly travelling 14 metres further than the runner up.
The De Kock-trained Jet Master gelding Alexandra Palace has also taken well to the tapeta with a win over 1 600m and a second over 2 200m.
However, Soumillon sticks with Sanshaawes and Pat Cosgrave switches from the South African-bred Zambucca to Alexandra Palace.
The Lundyâ€™s Liability gelding Zambucca, who is trained by Satish Seemar, surprised with a good third in a Gr2 over 1 900m last time with Cosgrave up and is now ridden by Richard Hughes from a good draw so could earn again.
De Kockâ€™s Soft Falling Rain and Shea Shea both make their long awaited reappearances on Saturday.
Brown said that Soft Falling Rain had been â€śdoing very well, weâ€™re very happy with himâ€ť and added that Shea Shea had â€śhad three gallops on the turf and is raring to go.â€ť
Soft Falling Rain runs in the Gr3 Mahab Al Shimal over
1 200m on the tapeta, a surface that he was unbeaten on in three starts from 1 400-1 600m at last yearâ€™s carnival.
He showed fine speed when winning the Gr1 SA Nursery over 1 160m, so has a chance here.
De Kock drops the disappointing Gale Force Ten down in trip here, which is interesting as he finished a close up second in the Gr1 Middle Park Stakes over six furlongs as a two-year-old.
However, the horse to beat here could be the 112-rated United Color, who was badly hampered over course and distance last time at a crucial stage behind Russian Soul, whom he had touched off before and now meets again.
Shea Shea defends his crown in the Meydan Sprint over
1 000m, which has been upgraded from a Listed to a Gr3 and is the highest rated horse in the race on 119.
His old rival Sole Power is second highest rated, but the biggest danger could be Catcall. He lost one of Europeâ€™s top five furlong sprints, the Gr1 Prix de Lâ€™Abbaye run on Arc day at Longchamp, by a neck. He ruined his chances in his Meydan debut with an awkward start but was doing some good work late.
Sean Tarry has been in Dubai this week to ovesee the preparation of Vodacom Durban July winner Heavy Metal, who steps up in trip to 2 410m in the Gr2 Dubai City Of Gold.
The Silvano gelding needed his first start over 1 400m and then might not have acted on the tapeta last time out, so is worth another chance, especially considering Richard Hughes has stayed aboard.
The De Kock-trained Mujaarib has had a fine season over there and was just too far back when running on well last time out.
Brown said that jockey Paul Hanaghan had suggested Mujaarib be stepped up in trip and he has a decent chance here as he seems to have more resolve than he had in his South African days.
(6 March 2014)
On 20th February 2014, one of South Africaâ€™s great sportsmen, Felix Coetzee, announced that he was to retire from race riding. Felix has been a stalwart of South African thoroughbred horseracing for many years and has expressed an interest in remaining involved in the Sport.
Following a visit on Wednesday 26th February 2014, Felix who has been working with Martin Locke visited the South African Jockey Academy in Summerveld. Being impressed with what he saw, Felix had discussions with the Headmaster and the Chairman of the Board. It was resolved that Felix would take up a position with the Academy on a fixed-term basis, commencing on 1 April 2014.
With Felixâ€™s international as well as national experience and the fact that he has until very recently been racing at the highest level, it is believed that his consultation with the Academy would add great value.