It was a case of back to the drawing board for Michael Roberts after Solid Gold was comprehensively out-pointed in the Gr2 KRA Guineas last season, finishing last of the dozen runners behind Twist Of Fate.
However, nothing ventured is nothing gained and Roberts will now know where he stands with the gelding.
Solid Gold lines up in a Graduate Plate on the poly at Hollywoodbets Greyville on Sunday and if his handicap rating is any guide, he should make short work of the opposition and many punters will be banking on him in the exotics to cut expenses on a difficult card.
He is rated superior to any of his rivals and with apprentice Yuzae Ramzan giving a further 4kg relief from pole position, he should prove difficult to beat.
The mile may have contributed somewhat to his Guineas showing as both of his wins have come over 1200m and although he has not been out since May, he should prove good enough to overcome the hurdle of a lay-off.
Graduate is rated 15 pounds inferior to Solid Gold but was a beaten favourite last time out when third behind Coldhardcash over the Greyville shortcut on the poly. The latter ran the field off their feet that afternoon and the extra furlong on Sunday can see Graduate a little more competitive.
Dark horse is the lightly raced Francisco. The gelding started favourite in his first two starts but showed in his third outing why he had been at short odds, bolting home by five lengths.
That was in October last year but runners from the Dennis Drier yard are seldom short of match fitness even after a long break and any market support must be respected.
If there is to be a boil-over it could come in the form of Man Of Action.
The colt is seemingly hopelessly out at the weights but the handicappers have their hands tied as far as possible penalties are concerned and this could be a shrewd move by the Anthony’s.
Of the balance, Mr Fitz has a touch of class but is likely to find this trip on sharp side given the strength of the opposition.
Warren Kennedy made a rare visit to Kenilworth mid-week and it paid off with a double, riding winners for Adam Marcus and Eric Sands. With Anton Marcus side-lined, Lyle Hewitson in Hong Kong Muzi Yeni facing suspension, solid support on the Highveld, strong roots in Port Elizabeth and the odd trip to Cape Town, Kennedy could be in a position to challenge for the national title come the end of the season.
Gavin van Zyl is a staunch Kennedy supporter in KZN, they had a winner on Wednesday with Liverpool Champ, and they team up with So Var in the seventh.
The gelding has been performing consistently and was not far off Sunset Eyes in the Umgeni Handicap over course and distance last time out. So Var is re-united with Kennedy, Keagan de Melo doing the honours in the Umgeni, in what will be a tough test as he is up against some quick opposition, notably the filly Boeing City and the grey Isca.
Boeing City is a 1000m specialist and has been narrowly beaten in her last three starts over the trip. Garth Puller will leg up 4kg claiming apprentice Jabu Jacobs and from a good draw the pair should be competitive.
Isca is another distance specialist and his most recent win came over course and distance. However, Kennedy is sure to have had the choice between Isca and So Var.
Champion trainer Sean Tarry has shut his Summerveld satellite yard for the time being but still has runners in KZN. In Full Bloom can be his first local winner of the new season when she contests the last race. Although she looks held on her showing behind Noemi, she races in blinkers for the first time and can turn the tables.
A blanket would have covered the first few home with Be Happy prevailing in a tight finish. She lumps top weight here but is in good form and goes well over the trip. Sarabi found market support last run and is due a change of fortune while Yaas is always game and on her day will go close.
To sum up, punters face a tricky card and will be hoping that Solid Gold lives up to his name.
By Andrew Harrison