Erik The Red could be Durban bound after making it four off the reel with a devastating turn of foot in the Kuda Somerset 1200 at Kenilworth on Tuesday.
Varsfontein’s homebred Captain Al colt was giving away more weight than a sumo wrestler yet he started almost unbackable at 3-7 and, when Richard Fourie pressed the button, he accelerated like a Ferrari to storm home four and a half lengths clear of the smart Matthew The King.
“He could end up in the Cape Guineas at the end of the year but the question now is whether we go to KZN for the Group I races,” said Jono Snaith, adding diplomatically: ”That will be up to Susan Rowett and John Kalmanson.” Seemingly, though, the owners are not going to be left in any doubt about what the Snaiths feel because Jono said, almost in the same breath: “The way he won, it will be hard not to – and I think he is good enough.”
Fourie shares much the same view, saying: “He’s a racehorse and I wake up in the mornings to ride horses like him. He is definitely capable of winning a Group 1.”
Of course, unless the regulations change, Fourie won’t be able to ride him or any of the other Snaith-trained KZN stars. How does he view this, Fee Ramsden asked him. “I’ve put a line through the Durban season,” he admitted. “I am just focussing on earning a living and what racing needs to do is to keep focussing on keeping the show going.”
Amazingly this was the first Somerset success for Justin Snaith since Gimmethegreenlight nine years ago. The dual champion trainer also won the Kudex Pinnacle with last year’s Winter Derby second Nexus and the Kudex Perfect Promise with Captain’s Ransom who fairly flew up the rails in Suzette Viljoen’s colours to lead just over 50m out.
Fourie was on both these and Jono Snaith sees Captain’s Ransom as a classic filly – “She is a very exciting prospect and she will end up in the Cape Fillies Guineas. She should stay every inch of the mile too.”
Piet Steyn has had to wait a long time for a horse good enough to take him back to the glory days of his early training career but in Katak he appears to have found it. So have the punters who backed the colt from 5-1 to 23-10 favourite in the Kuda Variety Club Mile – and Aldo Domeyer made sure they never had a moment’s anxiety. Indeed when he pressed the button it was race over.
The jockey was mightily impressed, saying:” Mr Steyn told me that he thinks he has one of the best horses in the country and I don’t feel that sentiment is out of place. Indeed I can’t wait for the summer season because that is when you are going to see the best of him – and he has everything he needs to go to the top.”
The Winter Series looks like being on the agenda and Steyn, who owns the colt 50:50 with Marsh Shirtliff, said: “I am thankful to Marsh (for coming in with me). He is a great man and it’s nice to be in partnership with him.”
Hassen Adams’ What A Flirt goes for the second and third legs of the fillies winter series after delighting Paddy Kruyer and Greg Cheyne in the Kuda Fillies Maiden while Anecdote showed the benefit of first time blinkers for Geoff Woodruff and Mj Byleveld in the mile maiden. Woodruff, to move to Cape Town later in the year, also won the last for Mike Fullard and James Drew with Worlds Your Oyster (Corne Orffer).
Brett Crawford and Orffer doubled up with impressive newcomer Invincabelle in the opener and Sing Out Loud in the Kuda Sweet Chestnut. This Ridgemont filly was plumb last for much of the way after fly-jumping as the gates opened but, as her jockey related, “When I gave her the bit she just took off.”
By Michael Clower
Image: Candiese Lenferna