Dennis Drier has won six of the last nine renewals of the Grade 1 Tsogo Sun Gold Medallion over 1200m and he has a shout at ending this decade with an incredible seven wins of this prestigious two-year-old event as he has two livewires in Cartel Captain and Master of Illusion.
Drier also won the race way back in 1990.
The Gold Medallion forms the second leg of Saturday’s Jackpot of Grade 1s at Scottsville’s big Festival Of Speed meeting.
Cartel Captain is a son of Drier’s 2013 Medallion winner Captain of All. He won a good race over course and distance on debut. He is an impressive specimen who found a strong finish from off the pace in that race.
He is 12/1 with Track And Ball, which looks good value.
Master Of Illusion won on debut over 1200m at Greyville and followed up by finishing a short-head second in the Grade 3 Godolphin Barb Stakes over 1100m at Greyville on May 3.
This gelding is also by a Drier-trained horse, Master Of My Fate, whose racing career was cut short by injury before he was able to fulfil his huge potential. Master Of Illusion is out of Captain Al mare Victorian Secret and is thus from the family of the like of All Is Secret and The Secret Is Out, who both won the Grade 1 Allan Robertson at the Festival Of Speed meeting.
Master Of Illusion is a 14/1 shot with Track And Ball.
Drier’s assistant trainer Stuart Ferrie said it was hard to call between the pair. He said on pure ability he would probably side with Cartel Captain and this colt’s work had also been very good at home. However, he added Master Illusion had more experience, which counted for a lot at this age.
The Johannesburg challenge will be strong in this year’s Medallion.
Frosted Gold is priced up as the 5/2 favourite. This New Zealand-bred won the Grade 2 SA Nursery from the usually tough number one draw. He has all the credentials of a horse who will enjoy Scottsville i.e enough pace to stay in touch as they hurtle down the hill in the early part and he is a resolute galloper who will relish the tough climb to the finish line from the 500m mark onward. He has the advantage of Anton Marcus aboard.
Second favourite Got The Greenlight used his long stride to run on for second in the Nursery and will be finishing strongly again on Saturday.
Alramz is a solidly built colt by former SA Nursery winner Soft Falling Rain and he led from start to finish when winning over this trip on debut on the Turffontein Inside track. He was extending at the line so he should also be climbing up the hill strongly.
African Warrior is an eyecatching sort who showed resolve when winning the Godolphin Barb, his second win in a row in just his third start.
Spring Break is the only filly in the race. She is by Trippi out of the speedster Miss October and after being backed and winning on debut over this trip at the Vaal the form was franked when runner up Solar Flare came out and won yesterday.
Her Sean Tarry-trained stablemate Eden Roc beat winners on debut over 1400m so this might be sharper than ideal but the tough nature of the track will suit him.
Candy Apple is an improving sort who was beaten by Master Of Illusion on debut but won well third time out.
Emerald Band bring strong Cape Town form, which is always to be feared.
High Voltage was half-a-length behind an extending Cartel Captain when they met over this course and distance and he followed up with a close up third in the Godolphin Barb.
Master Jay is interesting as he beat High Voltage easily over 1100m at Scottsville, although he had a 1,5kg claimer up that day.
Special Blend won going away over course and distance on debut and could be anything. Wave won easily over 1100m at Scottsville on debut and then finished a close fourth in the Godolphin Barb.
Guantanamo Bay looks held on Johannesburg form. Loosen Your Tie is a maiden who will need plenty of improvement.
It is a bit early in the week to make a call but it is going to be a humdinger of a race, possibly the day’s classiest event.
By David Thiselton