Kotzen happy with his Sun Met contenders

PUBLISHED: 29 January 2020

Pack Leader (Nkosi Hlophe)

Glen Kotzen is very happy with both his Sun Met contenders Pack Leader and Eyes Wide Open but admitted he would be thrilled to just split the “big four” with either runner on Saturday.

The pair, who will both run in Hugo and Suzanne Hattingh’s familiar Chrigor stud colours, had a gallop at Kenilworth last Wednesday with big race rider Morne Winnaar on Pack Leader and Anthony Andrews on Warren Kennedy’s mount Eyes Wide Open.

Kotzen said, “They worked together and did good pace work on the bit. Morne was pleased with Pack Leader and Anthony, who knows Eyes Wide Open well, was happy with Eyes too. Today (Tuesday) the two horses did their last bit of hard work before the race and I am very happy.”

Pack Leader (Nkosi Hlophe)
Pack Leader

Eyes Wide Open, who is drawn in pole, is merit rated 118 and in the race card changes for the day the blinkers which he was declared with have been taken off. He has not worn blinkers since last year’s Met, where he ran a 5,25 length ninth from a tricky draw of nine.

Pack Leader is merit rated 116 and jumps from draw ten.

Kotzen said, “We haven’t been too hard on Pack Leader in his build up events as he was coming back from a tendon injury and was off for more than a year, so he is going to be having his peak run. Eyes Wide Open if he turns up on the day can take on the best.”

Kotzen shared his reading of the race, “Do It Again has run below par in his last two and might battle to swing his form back in time. I was more impressed with Hawwaam in the preliminaries before the Peninsula than before the Queen’s Plate so it might have been the second run after the rest syndrome and I think a line can be drawn through that Queen’s Plate run anyway as nothing went right for him beforehand or in the race. So I think he is the horse to beat, although it is another big day with a lot of people so anything can happen. Vardy has had a great prep and is progressive and should stay the trip. It would be nice to see a young trainer winning the Met instead of the usual so if I don’t win it I would like to see Vardy win it. Wherever Vardy is One World should be right there. I was talking to John Koster (Klawervlei Stud) about One World’s pedigree and he believes this Captain Al colt will have no problem with the trip being out of a Giant’s Causeway mare. Rainbow Bridge is having his third run after a layoff so should be at his peak. Twist Of Fate always seems to be just behind the best.”

He concluded, “So from my point of view I would be happy if either of mine split the big four.”

Kotzen said he gave both Thumbs Up and Thomas Henry chances in the Listed Summer Juvenile Stakes over 1000m. 

He said, “Thumbs Up pinged it last time and was then in a fight in the front with another horse but still stayed on for second (beaten 5,25 lengths by Dad’s Catch). This race is often won by a two-year-old filly so she is a huge runner. Because of her race on the Friday of the LQP festival I told the jockey to take it easy at the off on Thomas Henry the next day. However, the eventual winner Erik The Red jumped fast and built up a lead and Thomas Henry failed to catch him (beaten into second by 4,75 lengths). The jockey came back and said if he had run his normal race he might have caught him. So we have been running him in blinkers at home since then and he has shown a lot of improvement with them on.”

Kotzen gives Snapscan a big chance in the Grade 2 New Turf Carriers Western Cape Stayers over 2800m.

He said, “She represents the form of many of the Majorca runners, so we will see how that form works out earlier in the day, and she will definitely have no problem with the distance. She is a huge runner.”

He also gives Third Runway a chance in the Grade 1 Bidvest Majorca over 1600m as her last race did not pan out well over 1200m and she has proved herself over this trip with a third place finish in the Grade 1 WSB Cape Fillies Guineas. However, she does have a wide draw of 12 to overcome.

He believed the hard-knocking Silver Tiara would have a good chance in the eleventh, a maiden for fillies and mares over 1800m. She finished just two lengths behind Namaqualand over 1600m last time. The latter is highly regarded by Sean Tarry. In the day’s equipment changes Silver Tiara also has them taken off which is an important fact to take note of. In that last race she over-raced from a wide draw with a 4kg apprentice on and eventually pulled her way to the front. She did well to stay on for third. She now has another wide draw of ten out of 12, but if settling better without the blinkers on and finding a good position in the running she will be a huge runner. 

Buffalo Bill Cody aims for Horse Chestnut Stakes

The Mike de Kock-trained Irish-bred entire Buffalo Bill Cody has not been seen since running in the Jo’Burg Spring Challenge over 1450m on October 5, where he ruined his chances by dwelling and losing three lengths at the start.

However, the five-year-old is still in training and is being aimed at the Grade 1 HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut, a weight for age mile to be run at Turffontein on April 4.

This year’s Vodacom Durban July is being run on American Independence day, July 4, so Buffalo Bill Cody would be a topical horse for the occasion having been named after a prominent American soldier, patriot and showman living at the time of American independence, but the De Kock yard said it was too early in the season to be thinking about the July.

By David Thiselton