Frank Lloyd Wright may not have the class of exciting stable companion General Franco but he could well beat him in the Play Soccer 6 Handicap at Durbanville tomorrow.
For a start Richard Fourie’s mount has to take on the older horse on terms six kilos worse than weight-for-age and that alone is worth more than five lengths over this 1 400m trip. But what clinches it, for the writer at least, is that the favourite is to be ridden with the future very much in mind, dropped out and taught to settle.
Durbanville, unlike Kenilworth, is a front-runner’s course. True, many of the races are won by horses coming from behind but anything turning for home three lengths clear can be very difficult to peg back.
The betting suggests that the bookmakers have taken on board Justin Snaith’s comments in yesterday’s Racegoer page about the General being dropped out and tucked in. He still heads the market and but he has been eased from 8-10 to 12-10 while Frank Lloyd Wright and Green Jacket have both shortened.
The dual champion trainer has long given the impression that he does not share the view of the handicappers – and reporters like this one – that General Franco’s impressive debut suggested he just might be the next superstar but said: “His gallop into this race was with a high-rated horse and he gave a good account of himself. This is the test to see if everyone is right about his ability.”
General Franco is Fourie’s pick of the three Snaith runners tomorrow but, when the trainer was asked if he shares the same view, he replied: “No. I think things will go Frank Lloyd Wright’s way and that he will be a hard nut to crack. Last time he couldn’t get to the front where he likes to be and the race didn’t pan out the way we had hoped. He strips a fitter horse this time and, with a small field, he will love it. Green Jacket is also quite consistent and, if he takes part, he could also fight it out.”
Meraki (15-2) has to give weight all round and, while his most recent run does not inspire confidence, it is worth pointing out that he meets Frank Lloyd Wright on 4k better terms than when he finished six and a half lengths behind that horse over this trip at Kenilworth in July.
Spectra Force (also 15-2) ran way below form last time – the course vet could find nothing wrong – but he did win his previous two, both over a mile. Pink Floyd has a better chance than his 15-1 price would suggest if you ignore his last run when he raced wide without cover and, perhaps understandably, tired in the straight.
By Michael Clower