Top KZN trainer Duncan Howells is expecting a fine run from Thanksgiving in the Grade 2 KRA Guineas at Greyville on Friday night.
The meeting heralds the opening of the SA Champions Season and there will be eight feature races for fans to look forward to.
Ashburton-based conditioner Howells said, “Thanksgiving’s Cape Derby run can be ignored as he pulled up lame behind and in retrospect it was a huge mistake to go down to Cape Town anyway but we took a chance. He needed his last start (in the Byerley Turk over 1400m) and was caught flat footed in a slow run race. He put up an extremely good recent gallop and is drawn well on Friday night so I expect him to give a very good account of himself. Look, it is a tough race. This is one of the strongest three-year-old crops in recent times but he is up with the best of them and will finish right on top of them.”
The Dynasty colt caught the eye early in his career but was an unconsidered 33/1 shot when travelling up to Johannesburg to run in the Grade 2 Dingaans over 1600m last November in just his fifth career start. He was backed in to 15/1 and justified the support. He produced a fine turn of foot in the straight and ran all the way to the line. Unfortunately he was up against a firecracker in Hawwaam, who has since been rated the highest South African Horse on the Longines World rankings.
Thanksgiving finished a 3,40 length second in the Dingaans. He had KRA Guineas candidates National Park 8,60 lengths behind him.
On Friday night he jumps from draw two of 13. He is up against the highest merit rated three-year-old in the country, Soqrat, whose three Grade 1 wins have all been over a mile. The latter does have the widest draw of all to overcome, but has the perfect racing temperament, so should relax well wherever he is. He also has a fine turn of foot coupled with a resolute finish and extra gears. His first Grade 1 win was over this course and distance as a two-year-old in the Premier’s Champions Stakes.
Howells has a few other runners on the night in a not to be missed meeting which is always full of thrilling racing and one which always has an effect on the three-year-old pecking order.
Neptune’s Rain runs in the Grade 3 IOS On Saturday Poinsettia Stakes over 1200m, where she has a wide draw of ten.
Howells said, “She needed her last run and was a little unlucky not to win, it was a great run. The weights are in her favour on Friday night. It not a good draw but she is not a quick starter so it will give us the opportunity to tuck her in and she finishes extremely well.”
He runs High Voltage in the Grade 3 IOS Affluence Godolphin Barb Stakes over 1100m and said, “The going caught him out last time. He is improving all the time and has not been beaten by two bad colts. He is capable and can run in the first three.”
Howells runs Coldhardcash in the IOS Sports and Racing Dash over 400m. This gelding shows a tremendous amount at home and Howells said he had recently realised he should have been running him over five furlongs (1000m). He said, “He is a very fast, strong and solid horse and can get going quickly. He will be competitive, he has just got to run like he works.”
He runs Buffalo in the IOS Arts and Pleasure Pinnacle Stakes over 1200m and said, “It has been difficult to find races for him.”
By David Thiselton