Candice Bass-Robinson has two Grade 1 winners running in away province Grade 1s this weekend, Clouds Unfolds and Russet Air, and they have both enjoyed good preparations.
Clouds Unfold runs in the Grade 1 Hollywoodbets Gold Challenge over 1600m at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Sunday and will be ridden by Keagan de Melo from a draw of four out of eight.
She is the joint highest merit rated filly in the country together with Celtic Sea and Bass-Robinson said, “We will see if she can take on the boys or not.”
The 126 rated What A Winter filly is a twice winner of the Grade 1 Majorca Stakes over 1600m but is yet to run in KZN as she slipped on the grass shortly after arriving at Summerveld last season and chipped the point of her hip.
There have thankfully been no long term effects and her performance in this year’s Majorca was superb as she was waited with for a long time by Aldo Domeyer before accelerating smartly to beat Celtic Sea by 0,30 lengths.
Clouds Unfold had a good preparation run at Kenilworth on June 3, running a 2,80 length fifth to the crack sprinter Run Fox Run over the too sharp 1000m at Kenilworth.
She subsequently travelled well to Summerveld and had a grass gallop at Greyville with a companion on Saturday which Bass-Robinson said went well.
Bass-Robinson believes a mile is Clouds Unfold’s best trip. She is by the champion sprinter What A Winter out of a mare by the stamina influence Montjeu.
It can be expected that the Drakenstein Stud-owned and bred filly will be relaxed in the running before staying on strongly.
The Grade 1 Cape Flying Championship winner Russet Air will run in the Grade 1 Computaform Sprint over 1000m on Saturday.
This four-year-old gelding is also by What A Winter and is interestingly also out of a mare by a stamina influence sire in Jallad.
Russet Air left for Johannesburg yesterday and will arrive today.
It is deemed that arriving close to the race is the best way to handle the effects of the altitude change when travelling to Johannesburg from the coast. Some also have the view that the altitude is a bigger factor in races longer than a mile, so Russet Air should have every chance of retaining Cape Town’s grip on the trophy. The Brett Crawford-trained Pacific Trader won this race last year.
Russet Air was in the same recent preparation race as Clouds Unfold and ran a 1,75 length third.
Bass-Robinson believes the Turffontein Standside 1000m will suit him as he enjoys running on behind a fast pace. The Turffontein Standside 1000m is one of the fastest sprint courses in the land so the pace is usually strong.
He is drawn one which is generally regarded as being the worst draw.
However, it should not be too bad for him as he will be looking to drop in behind them.
Piere Strydom is aboard and will have studied the race by Saturday to work out the best strategy.
Russet Air is the highest merit rated horse in the race on 125, but Mr Flood, who is merit rated 124 and is relatively unexposed, could turn out to be something special and will be the choice of most pundits.
By David Thiselton