The unbeaten Katak faces ten rivals in the Abe Bloomberg Legal Eagle Stakes at Kenilworth on Saturday and only once in the past 18 years has what was previously known as the Winter Classic attracted a bigger field.
Piet Steyn reported Cape Town’s latest star in good form on Monday but he is concerned about the amount of rain forecast for later in the week as he fears that Katak’s flowing action could be affected.
He said: “The horse is very well at the moment. Aldo Domeyer worked him over 1 400m on the cinders on Saturday morning and he was very pleased with the way he went while I personally couldn’t have expected more.
“My worry is that there is a lot of rain forecast for Thursday, Friday and Saturday and I don’t know how Katak is going to handle a wet course. He is a lovely mover when the going is on top but he has a low action and on sand he is a fair worker rather than a great one.”
Windguru does not give a specific forecast for Kenilworth but it predicts 3.5mm on Thursday for nearby Newlands followed by a further millimetre on Friday and 3.0mm on Saturday prior to the race which is at 4.10pm. Kenilworth tends to get more rain than Newlands.
Katak, immensely impressive in what used to be called the Winter Guineas, seems sure to start favourite. It’s more a question of whether the bookmakers will be brave enough to heed Steyn’s words of caution and quote the horse at odds against. The favourite has been successful in only four of the last 12 runnings.
The race tends to be won by a class act. Future Vodacom Durban July winners Power King and Marinaresco were successful in 2014 and 2016 and the last two winners were subsequent Sun Met scorer Rainbow Bridge and Vardy who went on to win the L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate.
As the winner of a Grade 3, Katak has to give a kilo to all except Silver Host. The Justin Snaith Politician winner and the Brett Crawford-trained Super Silvano are both rated 1.5kg better than Katak.
Interestingly Steyn thought he had missed out on Katak when the Potala Palace colt came up at the 2018 CTS April Yearling Sale at Durbanville.
He recalled: “I looked at the yearlings before they went into the ring and I liked him. But they were selling quickly and by the time I walked back he had gone through. I assumed somebody had bought him.
“When the sale was over Graeme Koster came up to me and said: ’Are you looking for horses?’ I said that I liked the Potala Palace but I’d missed him. Graeme handed me the passport and said: ‘This is his. Take it.’”
The price was a mere R20 000 and Steyn did not have to pay until the horse was ready to run!
But back to Saturday. Grant van Niekerk is much in demand on his first day of South African action since the beginning of August. He rides in all except one of the nine races and has three mounts for Justin Snaith, two for Candice Bass-Robinson and one each for Adam Marcus, Eric Sands and Glen Puller. The Sun Met-winning jockey won two out of six on his last visit to Kenilworth.
By Michael Clower