Al Bragga, something of a bookmakers’ benefit so far, just might be worth another chance in the opening maiden at Kenilworth today.
The Mike Stewart-trained three-year-old was backed as if he couldn’t lose on debut here in August yet he finished with only one behind him and over 20 lengths off the winner. He was found to be lame afterwards. He then went on a recovery mission at Durbanville and, although only fifth, he ran a great deal better. He would, though, have finished a lot closer had things gone according to plan but he had to be eased 600m out in order to get a clear run.
“He also gave himself a nasty over-reach,” says Mike Stewart who said of the debut disappointment: “When he got home he came out of the box on three legs. Either he knocked himself in the pens or he got kicked and nobody noticed.”
Al Bragga was gelded between the two races and this time Greg Cheyne takes over from Donovan Dillon and is fitted with cheek pieces. Stewart, who doesn’t bet, is determined not to tempt fate by making predictions but his horse was only a length and a quarter behind Cape Of Storms (33-10 favourite here) at Durbanville despite that interference.
Empire Glory, cut from 6-1 to 9-2 and the only four-year-old in the field, was hampered when he had Capkuta (4-1) a neck behind over 1 250m at Durbanville last month.
Happy Wanderer (15-2) is the highest rated but disappointed at Durbanville and Mike Robinson says: “I don’t think he really enjoyed the course but also he needed gelding. This was done immediately afterwards but he might just need this run as I haven’t galloped him.”
The Andre Nel newcomer King Cyrus (15-2) has to be respected, particularly with Bernard Fayd’Herbe riding, but Al Bragga at 4-1 looks a worthwhile prospect to make it third time lucky.
Dennis Drier only brings maidens to Cape Town if he is convinced they are good enough to win so it is no surprise to see newcomer Croisette favourite for race two, particularly as she has already finished second in a Scottsville barrier trail. But 5-10 against a couple of provenly useful local fillies looks too short. I prefer to take a chance with Ryanair at 5-1.
Looks Like Magic, 2-1 for the Betting World Maiden (race three), is a pretty apt description of the Glen Kotzen/Morne Winnaar combination at the moment and she has a big chance. However slight preference is for Fayd’Herbe’s mount Springisintheair.
By Michael Clower