“This is the biggest weekend of the year in my opinion and a lot of time has gone into planning for it,” says Justin Snaith. “I have put horses away for the last two months and that is part of the reason why the yard has been quiet recently [he hasn’t had a winner at the last three Cape Town meetings]. It’s going to be exciting.”
It wasn’t when he found stable star Do It Again coughing two days after that Green Point rough house but the dual champion trainer is confident that the antibiotic won’t leave the horse flat. “We know the ones that can flatten horses and we make sure we don’t use them. The one Do It Again had was only aimed at the respiratory. It was also a mild one that is easy on the stomach.”
But the five-year-old’s preparation was interrupted. How much of a problem is that going to be? “Last Saturday was his best work-out yet so we are getting there and I’m very happy with him. Obviously it’s a tough field and the Jo’burg boys are confident but that just makes it good racing in my book.
“That said, the way things have turned out we could be better aimed towards the Sun Met but this, remember, is Do It Again. For me he is still the best horse in the race and it’s really just a matter of whether I have got him 100%.”
Richard Fourie’s mount won last year’s L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate but his Vodacom Durban July performances suggest he could be a better horse over further than a mile. Snaith does not agree. “When he is ready and revved up he can run any distance. But the length of the rest he had between the July and the Green Point was too long. Five months out of a horse’s career is ridiculous and in the Green Point it was as if I had brought him back from a major injury. He was half-asleep. But he is waking up now.”
This time the gelding will have a pacemaker. “We have had too many races in Cape Town lately where they have just cantered, and some where the feature has been run in a slower time than a maiden on the same day. We can’t have that and so Crown Towers is running to ensure that the pace is an honest one.”
And how worried is he by Hawwaam? The normally bullish Snaith did not answer the question in the manner you might have expected or in the way the punter would have hoped, but what he said went a long way towards explaining how he deals with the pressure of expectation from the racing public in general and from owners in particular.
He took his time about answering too. “I have gone into this race like I have done with almost every other race in my career. I don’t care who is in it – Hawwaam or any other you like to name – because it makes no difference to me. I focus purely on my own horses. I feel this is the best way and mine will be there on Saturday as ready as they can be. And, trust me, we normally get it right.”
He certainly did last year when he also won the Glorious Goodwood Peninsula Handicap as well as the Cartier Paddock Stakes for the third successive season. Can Silvano’s Pride, Miyabi Gold or Platinum Class make it four?
“Their last start [all in the Victress Stakes just before Christmas] was a bit of a flat run and the reason was so that they should be ready for Saturday. They are equally talented and I think Myabi Gold is going to be a massive runner but Silvano’s Pride needs things to go her way. I have had an issue with Platinum Class’s feet and her form suggests she is better on the soft but we are hoping for an improved effort.”
And in the other features? “You can expect a very good run from Belgarion and Nexus at the weights in the Peninsula Handicap. I think they are good enough to be in the Met but instead I am saving them for Durban.
“A fast pace in the Heineken Chairman’s Cup would play into Strathdon’s hands – it was too slow in the Cape Summer Stayers – and a slow one would suit Doublemint.”
By Michael Clower