Brett Crawford has had magnificent returns in the last two SA Champions Seasons, landing four Grade 1 wins in 2017 and three in 2018.
This season he has a small but powerful team at Summerveld and has a chance of adding to that record.
Undercover Agent was one of his stars last year and this year will be starting off in the Grade 2 IOS Drill Hall Stakes over 1400m, then running in the Grade 1 Rising Sun Gold Challenge over 1600m and completing his campaign in the Grade 1 WSB Champions Cup over 1800m. He ran in the same three races last year and finished second, first and second respectively. He will have come into his own this season but the opposition is going to be stronger.
Bold Respect landed the Grade 1 Tsogo Sun Sprint for Crawford last year but had to be scratched from the Grade 1 Mercury Sprint. He started last year in the Listed In Full Flight Stakes, which he won, but will avoid that race this year and go straight into the Tsogo Sun. Brett Crawford’s assistant trainer Peter Muscutt confirmed Bold Respect thrived in KZN. He said this horse did not quite see out the “stiff Kenilworth 1200m”, so he could do better than his fourth place finish in the Diadem last time out. He ran off a 111 merit rating when winning the Tsogo Sun by a cosy 1,75 lengths last year and is currently off a 113, so has every chance of defending his crown.
Sunset Eyes finished second in the I Full Flight last year and then third in the Tsogo Sun and fourth in the Mercury. This year he starts in the In Full Flight and then goes for the Tsogo Sun and the Grade 2 Post Merchants.
The yard have had one Grade 1 winner this season, the filly Front And Centre, who won the WSB Cape Fillies Guineas. Her Champions Season targets are the Grade 2 KRA Fillies Guineas, the Grade 2 Tibouchina over 1400m and the Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes over 1600m.
Princess Irene is also a useful three-year-old filly and won the Listed Ardmore Jamaica Handicap over 2000m in her last start in early January. Her first two Champions Season targets are the KRA Fillies Guineas and the Grade 1 Woolavington 2000.
The yard’s talented Trippi colt Charles, who finished a narrow second in the Grade 1 GBETS Cape Derby last time out, will run in the Grade 2 KRA Guineas, the Grade 1 Daily News 2000 and possibly the Vodacom Durban July.
The five-year-old Dynasty mare Sabina’s Dynasty made a fine debut for the yard on Sunday at Scottsville when running on strongly for second in the Listed Scarlet Lady over 1750m. She will be going for the Listed East Coast Cup over 2000m next and it will be taken from there. The connections were disappointed the former Paul Peter-trained mare didn’t get into the July last year as the winner of the Grade 2 Gerald Rosenberg Stakes and as those partners remain in the syndicate, along with new partners Ridgemont Stud, the July is still a possibility, although she was not among the first entries.
Gimme One Night runs in the Listed Sledgehammer on Sunday and will then be aimed at the staying features. He finished fifth in the Grade 2 New Turf Carriers Stayers over 2800m on Sun Met day having previously landed a hattrick of wins from 2400m to 3200m, including the Grade 3 Cape Summer Stayers over 2500m and the Grade 3 Heineken Chairman’s Cup over 3200m.
The Eric Sands-trained Sun Met winner Rainbow Bridge is also staying in the Crawford yard for the Champions Season.
Muscutt believed his targets would be the Drill Hall, the Gold Challenge and the July.
Muscutt concluded by saying he was happy with all of the horses.
By David Thiselton