Charles has not hit his straps since arriving in KZN for Champions Season but there is no doubt that he is a colt with ability. He is one of only two horses to have beaten Cape Winter Classic winner Vardy – Cape Guineas winner One World the other – and he finished second to Atyaab in the Investec Derby.
Charles lines up in the Gr3 Track & Ball Derby at Scottsville tomorrow, a ‘derby’ only in name with just two of the 10 runners being three-year-olds.
In both KZN races, the KRA Guineas and the Daily News 2000, Charles sported blinkers. They obviously did not have the desired effect as Brett Crawford has removed them for tomorrow and their absence will hopefully correspond with an improvement in form as he will need a convincing performance if he is to have any chance of making the final field for the Vodacom Durban July, the field being announced next Tuesday.
Charles will not be short of opposition with the filly Secret Potion, Roy Had Enough and Top Classman three others with their names still in the VDJ hat.
Frank Robinson was less than complimentary about the pace of the Cup Trial where Roy Had Enough fell victim to a pedestrian gallop as the riders played cat and mouse in the stiff breeze that chased them home.
Anton Marcus has stayed with Roy Had Enough but if there is no pace he may have to go forward and make his own.
Geoff Woodruff saddles Secret Potion, the only filly in the race, and if she can put one over her male counterparts then she must have a shout of at least being invited to make the VDJ line-up.
She has the best of the draw and Woodruff said mid-week, “From there you can just about pick your spot. She is a good filly, she just needs the opportunity to show it. If there is a good pace and she finds a nice spot, she is a big runner, because she can really turn it on.”
Top weight Dawn Assault is as game as they come and was beaten just over a length in the WSB 1900 which boasted a stronger line-up than what he meets here.
Mr Winsome will be defending his title but has been winless since that last win and comes into the race off a barrier trial and a blow-out in a handicap.
However, Dean Kannemeyer is a master craftsman and a win for Mr Winsome would not come as a major surprise.
Silver Rose is a course and distance specialist and White Lightning is hopelessly out at the weights but boasts a highly consistent recent record and was doing his best work late behind The Sultans Bazaar suggesting that the extra two furlongs may be what he’s looking for.
The Track & Ball Oaks is equally tricky but since the race was opened to older horses, it has been difficult for three-year-olds. Blossom is close to the top of her class having finished runner up in the SA Oaks at Turffontein and a useful third in the Woolavington 2000.
She looks to be the best of the sophomore contingent but Sabina’s Dynasty, Insignis and Roy’s Riviera will be difficult to get past.
East Coast Handicap winner Roy’s Riviera looks to have the wood on top weight Sabina’s Dynasty but the latter is having her third outing for Brett Crawford and was reeling in VDJ hopeful Mayabi Gold quickly in the Scottsville mud in The Scarlet Lady, that race possibly more of a guide.
Insignis, along with Roy’s Riviera are VDJ hopefuls, but both will need spectacular performances if they are to make the final field.
By Andrew Harrison