Buffalo Bill Cody went into the Gr1 Champions Cup at the end of last season preceded by a huge reputation but he fluffed his lines and it was back to the drawing boards for trainer Mike de Kock. Prior to the Champions Cup, Buffalo Bill Cody had suffered only a single reverse, that being on debut when a distant fourth to Rebel’s Champ who has since established himself as a top sprinter.
The Australian-bred horse makes his seasonal debut in the Gr2 Joburg Spring Challenge over 1450m at Turffontein tomorrow and bookmakers have not taken any chances with Buffalo Bill Cody as short as 12-10 in the early exchanges.
However, a lay-off and a wide draw over the tight Turffontein inner circuit will not make his comeback a walk in the park but outside of his Champions Cup disappointment, Buffalo Bill Cody had solid form, putting daylight between himself and any rivals.
The Spring Challenge marks the start of the two-month Highveld spring season that culminates with the Gauteng Summer Cup on November 30 where Buffalo Bill Cody is a nomination along with the cream of the De Kock yard and although he does look a cut above some useful opposition, caution may be the operative word when it comes to the exotics.
Zouaves has not won since the Hawaii Stakes last season but goes very well over this course and distance where he boasts an unbeaten record. In his favour is that Geoff Woodruff has got a race into his charge in preparation for this event in what was a smart seasonal debut over a distance short of his best. He also has the best of the draw at gate two so victory will not come as a surprise.
Of the balance, Infamous Fox is never far back while the Sean Tarry pair of Chimichuri Run and Putontheredlight are both smart horses but could possibly be short of a run, not having been out since July.
The Gr2 Spring Challenge for fillies and mares is another intriguing puzzle. Form horse is Vistula who made short work of the opposition for Paul Peter and jockey Warren Kennedy last month. Vistula has an exceptional record and must rate the filly to beat.
However, she does have a tricky draw to overcome and faces three younger rivals who should make a race of it. De Kock saddles Gin Fizz who was possibly just in need of her last run when caught in the dying strides. That was a hard race and second run after a break may come into play but the step up in trip should suit. Sidonie hacked up on debut for Sean Tarry and could be anything as she has a top pedigree and a good draw to boot.
Stable companion Spiritofthegoove should enjoy the step up in trip and has been beaten less than a length in three starts since shedding her maiden on debut. She has drawn on the wrong side of mid-field but does like to come from off the pace so the draw may not be a factor.
Vistula is top of the ante-post boards on offer at 22-10 with Gin Fizz and Sidonie bracketed on 5-1.
By Andrew Harrison