The Dean Kannemeyer-trained African Warrior was a major disappointment when finishing out of the money for the first time in his career in the Grade 2 Concorde Cup over 1600m on November 23 on the Kenilworth Old Course but he was subsequently found to have strained a hindquarter muscle and is now back on track.
The Vercingetorix gelding had started 16/10 favourite, despite having to give the rest of the field 1kg, but when asked the question by Keagan de Melo from his customary position at the back of the field his usual blistering acceleration was not there and he finished a 4,40 length ninth.
He was found by the on course veterinarian to not be striding out on his left fore.
He trotted out short the next day too and the cause was found to be a strained hindquarter muscle.
However, he has had treatment and was back in work on Saturday.
Kannemeyer felt the few days off work would not affect African Warrior’s preparation for the Grade 1 Cape Guineas to be run on December 21.
Kannemeyer has an enviable record in this three-year-old classic, having won it five times himself on top of the handful of successes his father Peter had.
Asked to compare African Warrior to his previous Guineas winners, he said, “The handicapper loves him and rates him very highly, but if you had to ask me I would say he probably has a lot of work to do to match them. But he could prove me wrong as he is a toughy and is genuine and has a turn of foot.”
The athletic bay’s program has been carefully planned to date.
He won the Grade 3 Godolphin Barb over 1100m at Greyville before finishing an unlucky fifth in the Grade 1 Tsogo Sun Gold Medallion. Kannemeyer then deliberately avoided the Champions Season’s bigger juvenile races from then onward, opting instead to run him in the KZN Yearling Sale Million over 1300m and the Grade 2 Haval Motors SA Umkhomazi Stakes over 1200m, both of which he won.
He put up one of the best three-year-old performances of the season to date when finishing a 2,25 length fifth in the Grade 3 Matchem Stakes over 1400m in his comeback.
Meanwhile, Kannemeyer’s superbly bred Captain Al colt Seventh Gear has been gelded. He finished an encouraging 1,90 length fifth in the Concorde Cup, but Kannemeyer subsequently informed connections that this horse’s blood had been “slowing down”. He recommended gelding but it was not a decision which was going to be taken lightly as he is out of the Wilgerbosdrift Triple Tiara heroine Cherry On The Top. However, he was duly gelded the Monday after the race and will consequently not be ready in time for the Cape Guineas.
Another of Kannemeyer’s good colts, Liberty Hall, should be cherry ripe for the Cape Guineas.
This son of Querari was runner up in the Grade 1 Premiers Champion Stakes on Gold Cup day and finished a 4,80 length seventh in his comeback on November 5 over the too sharp 1200m. He is running again this Saturday in a handicap over the too sharp 1400m off his 108 rating and that should put him spot on for the Cape Guineas a couple of weeks later.
By David Thiselton