The Royal Race Day presented by HSH Princess Charlene Of Monaco at Turffontein Standside tomorrow features the Grade 1 wfa Empress Club Stakes for fillies and mares and this 1600m event is full of class.
Oh Susanna, as a high class filly, is sparingly raced and is unbeaten in her last three Grade 1s against fillies and mares. These included two wfa Paddock Stakes’ over 1800m and one Woolavington 2000 over 2000m. So this is a touch on the sharp side but considering she has a tendency to over race the tough Turffontein 1600m should be right down her alley. The pole position draw will be a big help as she can either get to the front for free or find cover.
Celtic Sea will be a threat considering the way she won hand and heels, easing up over 1400m last time. This three-year-old struck as top class when winning the Grade 2 Golden Slipper over 1400m as a two-year-old because nothing went right in the running yet she still got up. She has to reverse form with Ghaalla from the Fillies Mile and with Nafaayes and Running Brave from the Gauteng Fillies Guineas but she was not at her best in the former race and lost three lengths at the start in the latter. She is blossoming now and is a big runner.
Cascapedia looked threatening when moving up to Oh Susanna in the Paddock Stakes but the latter had extra and drew away to beat her by four lengths. However, she might prefer this trip, whereas Oh Susanna is suited to further so this big and classy sort has a shout.
Nafaayes is a courageous sort who proved she can stay on resolutely from handy positions when winning both the Ipi Tombe and Gauteng Fillies Guineas over this course and distance, but she was well drawn there and now has a tough draw.
Al Danza brings the Geoff Woodruff factor. The five-times champion trainer is known for his ability to peak horses for big races and last year Al Danza came within a whisker of upsetting the top class Nother Russia in this race. She has to reverse form with Nafaayes from the Ipi Tombe and Cascapedia also narrowly beat her in the HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes last time over the course and distance, but she does have a plum draw and can’t be ignored. Running Brave just has a short-head to find on Nafaayes from the Gauteng Fillies Guineas and from a fair draw is a dark horse. Fresnaye has some top form in Cape Town but would prefer further and comes off a slamming by Celtic Sea in her first Highveld start. She will improve from that run though. Fiorella beat a good field in last season’s Grade 2 Daisy Fillies Guineas at Greyville and has a chance if reproducing that run. Redberry Lane won last season’s Grade 1 Jonsson Workwear Garden Province Stakes over this trip at Greyville so also can’t be ignored. She has come into her own but has a tough draw, particularly considering she is a handy to front-running sort.
There look to be a number of fair bets on the card.
The choice for best bet is Jetorio in the 8th over 2400m. This daughter of River Jetez needed her last run over 1800m and was staying on well. Her mother stayed this trip and further so she has a big shout from pole position and is made a banker.
Zillzaal will be hard to beat in the second race over 2000m as an improving sort who went close in the SA Derby.
Eskimo Kisses is a nice type with plenty of substance and she should enjoy the step up to 1400m in the third, although the draw of seven could be tricky as the best scenario will be for her to find cover and run on.
In the next race Stockbridge is a progressive sort who is well drawn in this race over an ideal 1400m trip.
In the ninth race Fire And Rescue also looks to have a touch of class and should be ahead of the handicapper off a mere 69 merit rating. He should also enjoy the step up in trip to 1600m and has a fair draw.
By David Thiselton