Ikigai has a touch of class

PUBLISHED: 07 February 2020

Ikigai (JC Photographics)

The Highveld classic season begins tomorrow and the Grade 2 Gauteng Guineas and the Grade 2 Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas form the respective first legs of the SA Triple Crown and Wilgerbosdrift SA Triple Tiara. 

The field lining up in the Gauteng Guineas shows just how strong the current crop of three-year-old males are around the country. Ikigai had shown touches of class before his last start in the Tony Ruffel Stakes and he then showed true class when destroying the field by 4,50 lengths. On pedigree he will enjoy the step up in trip and he has a fair draw. Shango looked immature in his races before the Dingaans where he then won impressively, so he has a fine chance too as he should have improved again since then. Green Laser is the dark horse having improved to win the Listed Sea Cottage Stakes over 1800m where he showed a good turn of foot. He has a good draw here.

Ikigai (JC Photographics)
Ikigai (JC Photographics)

Riverstown is another progressive and classy type and he should enjoy the step up to this trip, although he does have a tricky draw. Frosted Gold is a classy and courageous type but he looks held by Shango on the Dingaans form. This mile looks to be the top of his stamina range, but he does have a plum draw. Youcanthurrylove is a progressive sort who has won his last two handicap starts over 1800m with ease. His 1600m form doesn’t read as well but he has likely improved since last running over this trip and he will enjoy the standside track with its long straight. Eden Roc was a top class two-year-old who possessed a terrific turn of foot. However, he lacked scoped and has duly disappointed this term to date. However, he is drawn in pole over an ideal trip and can’t be written off just yet, particularly as he has “super sub” Raymond Danielson aboard. Leopold is well regarded and could earn a cheque.

In the Wilgerbosdrift Gauteng Fillies Guineas Summer Pudding is unbeaten and although her form has not worked out particularly well she is by Silvano so can up her game here again. Furthermore, she is drawn in pole over this ideal course and distance. Magic School has always struck as a classy sort and has proved it with a one length second to the classy Frosted Gold in the Graham Beck takes over 1400m and a close third last time in the Three Troikas Stakes over 1400m. She should relish this course and distance as one who can turn it on before staying on resolutely. On pedigree, being by Philanthropist out of a Right Approach mare who won over a mile, she should also love the trip, but on the downside she has a tough draw and the blinkers are on for the first time.

Mill Queen only just failed in the Grade 1 Thekwini over this trip ate the end of last season and in her only start this season she won the Starling Stakes over 1400m. She needed that run and showed how big her heart is by fighting off a challenger. She has not had an ideal preparation but her class coupled with her courage could pull her through from a good draw. Snow Palace has fine form if her last start is ignored. That was over 1800m in soft ground and she led, so can perhaps be forgiven, although there is some rain forecast. She is an effective front-runner at her best and her draw of two is ideal for her style.

Keep Smiling faces Summer Pudding on the same terms as when losing to her by 0,30 lengths in the Fillies Mile over course and distance so can’t be written off. Risk Taker packs a strong finish and is interesting stepped up in trip. Spiritofthegroove is well drawn and was only narrowly beaten in the Three Troikas, although she was well beaten in the Fillies Mile. Victoria Paige is progressive but has a very wide draw. 

By David Thiselton