Only twice in the last ten years has the winner of the Concorde Cup, and its Selangor predecessor, gone on to land the Cape Guineas but both first and second showed a classic-winning turn of foot at Kenilworth on Saturday.
First Sachdev and then, decisively, King Of Gems accelerated as if they had been fitted with turbochargers and they flew home like Pegasus with Drakenstein’s son of the ill-fated Kingsbarns snatching victory almost on the line to become the longest-priced winner of the race this century.
The 55-1 shot was last of all turning into the short straight but Aldo Domeyer reported: “I was always going well. He picked it up like a good horse should but then Richard Fourie hit the front. This was a concern because Richard doesn’t normally stop when he does but then, though, my horse dug down deep and found an amazing gear.”
Fourie confirmed: “I thought I was going to get up – my mount has a serious turn of foot – but when I was getting there close home the other horse came and got me.”
The margin was only a neck and Justin Snaith reckons the gap is more than bridgeable – “I had to back right off Sachdev after the Cape Classic when his blood wasn’t right and as a result he was not as fit as I would have liked. But I think I will have him right for the Guineas.”
Brett Crawford seemed almost as impressed with third-placed Macthief as he was with the winner, saying: “He had a lot of things against him and in the back straight he clipped heels and pecked. They will both go for the Guineas and after Wednesday I hope to have a third runner (Kilindini).”
Corne Orffer, who rode Macthief, added: “He is not a horse who is going to quicken like the first two did but he keeps finding and he ran right to the line.”
Viva Rio, less than half a length further back fourth, will again be in the line-up on December 21 and Morne Winnaar said: “He will be better on the new course – he only got going late here.”
The principal negatives about the race – from the point of view of its bearing on the Guineas – are that there was less than two lengths covering the first five, Domeyer’s comment “I can’t wait for ten furlongs” (it takes an exceptional horse to win the Guineas if he is not a specialist miler) and the eclipse of the Kannemeyer horses.
The Milnerton trainer was struggling to understand this in the immediate aftermath and said: “African Warrior (ninth) ran below his rating and he just didn’t quicken – and it’s the first time he hasn’t, while Seventh Gear (fifth) stayed on as if he is looking for ground.”
Vets Kate Meiring and Juan Batt provided the answers: African Warrior was not striding out on his left fore while Seventh Gear was blowing unnaturally hard.
Cane Lime ‘n Soda ran on into sixth and part-owner Robert Bloomberg said: “I think he is a Derby horse but we will take our chance in the Guineas.”
Snow Report (seventh) led until weakening just inside the final furlong and so gave his connections hope for the future. Apparently the Langerman winner has not thrived in recent months.
The stable promptly collected the Cape Merchants with the Domeyer-ridden Russet Air who came up the stands side to book his ticket for the season’s big sprints, much to the delight of Marsh Shirtliff and the Bass and Finch families.
“He gives you the impression that he is looking for a bit further but he is best up the straight,” said Candice.
“I am looking for a horse to take the place of Oh Susanna in the Group 1s,” said Snaith after Myabi Gold had come home in front in the conditions plate, “but I didn’t think I had this mare that fit – she had only had one gallop.” As part-owner Nic Jonsson pointed out, she was only beaten just over two lengths in last year’s Vodacom Durban July.
Andre Nel has Sun Met ambitions for Capoeira who completed Domeyer’s treble in the last – but the real lesson from the finale is just what Roi Querari and the rest of the home team are up against when the CTS Ready To Run finally does take place on Saturday fortnight. Invidia was giving the winner a kilo (and 7kg more than weight-for-age) and yet he was only beaten a neck. Little wonder that Ashley Fortune brought him down early!
By Michael Clower