Front and Centre is all business
PUBLISHED: December 13, 2018
Front And Centre is 2-1 favourite with the sponsors despite having raced at a lower level than the likes of Clouds Unfold…
Brett Crawford is aiming to bridge a 13-year gap with Front And Centre in Saturday’s World Sports Betting Fillies Guineas. Anton Marcus’s mount hasn’t yet developed the aura of Bad Girl Runs – she went on to win the Paddock Stakes – but the Kieswetter filly has won all three starts with a devastating turn of foot and is the favourite.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing because she was forced to miss the main trial, the Western Cape Fillies Championship, with muscle enzyme problems but her trainer is convinced that she has put those firmly behind her and that she is back on song.
“She has been 100% since her win on November 21 and she worked well last week,” says Crawford. “All is in order and I am very happy with her.”
Front And Centre is 2-1 favourite with the sponsors despite having raced at a lower level than the likes of Clouds Unfold (3-1) and 7-1 shots Temple Grafin and Ghaalla. But Crawford doesn’t see this as a problem,saying: “She has always shown us that she has something special and everybody that has been on her has said that she has given them a good feel. Furthermore she has gone about her business in an ultra-professional manner.”
So the jump in class shouldn’t be a problem? “I don’t know that it is a jump. She is rated 101 and there are only three rated higher. She is a massive runner.”
Clouds Unfold created a big impression when coming from someway back to win the WC Fillies Championship with authority. The decision to run Saturday’s race a fortnight later than usual means that there is a seven-week gap between the trial and the race – too long in the eyes of some trainers who have felt it necessary to get another run into their charges.
Not so Candice Bass-Robinson with the second favourite. “I galloped her on the course last week and I believe that put her pretty much spot on. She will be fine over the extra furlong – she switches off easily in a race and she is out of a Montjeu mare.”
This will be her second run back and Candice, like many punters, is a firm believer that it is the third run that usually sees a horse at its peak. But she has got round this by staging her own race in private. “They cancelled the one she was due to run in so I put six of mine up against each other at Durbanville. As a result this will effectively be her third run back.”
She also runs 16-1 shot Santa Clara who was third in the WC Fillies and second in a subsequent progress plate. “She is tough and game, and she always runs well. I don’t know that she can beat Clouds Unfold but she could finish in the money if things go right.”
Temple Grafin (7-1) has a length and a quarter to find with Clouds Unfold on WC Fillies form and events have shown that it was no disgrace to be beaten by Nous Voila in a subsequent sprint. “We are very chuffed with her and she is bred for this mile,” says Glen Kotzen, successful with Princess Victoria seven years ago. “She has pulled a bad draw so it is going to be tough but the longer straight gives her a chance. It’s her third run after a break and it’s what we have been aiming at.
“Coral Bay (25-1) is also drawn badly at nine. I was disappointed with her last time but we have been waiting for the longer run-in and hopefully we will see her doing her best work because she is a talented filly.”
In the Cape Guineas Joey Ramsden is bidding for his third win in eight years and all-the-way Cape Classic winner Twist Of Fate is as big as 13-1 largely because he was beaten over two lengths into third in the Concorde Cup. “He didn’t have a great trach wash the week before but the low draw made me run. Maybe it shouldn’t,” reflects his trainer.
“I am hoping the longer straight will suit him. There looks to be a lot of speed in the race with three or four strong pace horses whereas usually there are none. I don’t know whether or not that will help and with his wide draw it’s going to depend on how he gets in. I used to think that he was better switched off and coming with a late rattle but he is not.”
By Michael Clower
Marcus marks a milestone
PUBLISHED: December 13, 2018
Marcus’s milestone went almost unnoticed until Arnold Hyde, stepped out of the woodwork yesterday to present Marcus with a memento…
There is no better rider in the country than current National Champion Lyle Hewitson but he has a long, long way to go to even get near the one hundred Gr1 winners of Anton Marcus. But as long as he continues getting the winners home as he did at Greyville yesterday, punters won’t mind if they are lowly maidens or Graded races.
Marcus’s milestone went almost unnoticed until Arnold Hyde, acting CEO of the National Horseracing Authority, stepped out of the woodwork yesterday to present Marcus with a memento for his achievement of one hundred Grade 1 victories in a career spanning nearly three decades.
Born in 1970, the 48-year-old is still at the top of his game as he showed when coaxing Legal Eagle to a thrilling victory in last Saturday’s Greenpoint Stakes at Kenilworth.
The fact that he has a current winning strike rate of close to 32% and is three winners behind log leader Muzi Yeni who has had almost three times as many rides, tells the story.
Marcus opened the day on the odds-on favourite Enterthedebutante for Ashburton-based Kom Naidoo who said the filly will now be put away. “She wasn’t supposed to be precocious, but she showed a lot of speed at home so I decided to run her.” It was a decision well made.
Hewitson scored in three of the next four races, each one a copybook ride. On Donnan and Mystical Summer, second and fourth races respectively, he sat off the pace and produced his mount with telling late runs.
It was a change of tactics for Nathan Kotzen’s Donnan who had been showing early pace in his previous races. This time with the blinkers off, he settled nicely and ran on when it counted.
Hewitson rode a similar race on Wendy Whitehead’s filly Mystical Summer who caused a major boil-over in the exotics, starting at 25-1 and paying R18 a win on the ‘nanny’. This was only Mystical Summer’s second run for Whitehead after showing very little in her previous starts.
The late switch of tracks from Scottsville to Greyville saw the draws turned upside down in the sprint races. With the draws down the Scottsville straight hardly an issue, outside draws suddenly did become an issue on the Greyville turn. One to suffer was the well fancied Socrates who was not able to get up handy as is his want and Marcus was forced to tuck-in towards the back of the field. Socrates was doing his best work late but Hewitson was wide awake on On The Boulevard. Handy throughout, Tony Rivalland’s gelding kicked when it mattered.
It was two more for visiting jockeys as Donovan Dillon recorded a double. Dennis Bosch expressed reservations about Mutawaary’s chances after the switch to Greyville but Dillon rode a driving finish to nail hot favourite Candy Galore on the line. Slow out of the gate, Dillon bided his time until the home stretch where he gave his mount a clear run at the wire to get home in the last jump.
He had it easier in the next as Doug Campbell’s runner Stand By Me put some moderate recent form behind him to come home lonely in the seventh. The Gary Rich-trained Don Pierro, often a handful in the mornings,gave apprentice Khanya Sakayi a difficult ride, refusing to stay on a straight course under pressure but doing enough to finish a comfortable second.
Rich had to be content with another second in the last as Clouds Of Witness was just run out of it by favourite Walterthepenniless to give Dennis Drier and Sean Veale a double.
It was anyone’s race come the final furlong as pacemakers Victorious Man and All Aboard clung to their lead but Clouds Of Witness and Walterthepennisless gradually clawed their way past with the blinkered ‘Walter’just getting the upper hand.
By Andrew Harrison
Flower in bloom for Ferraris
PUBLISHED: December 12, 2018
There is a ready made banker in the first leg of the PA over 1600m in the form of Blossom who is impeccably bred being by Silvano…
The Vaal stages a ten race meeting tomorrow and the exotics look the way to play it with some fair opportunities in some races coupled with other races which are competitive.
There is a ready made banker in the first leg of the PA over 1600m in the form of Blossom who is impeccably bred being by Silvano out of the Triple Tiara winner Cherry On The Top. She is trained by the latter’s trainer Ormond Ferraris and was a touch unlucky on debut when running on strongly from last over 1400m for a narrow third. She will relish the step up in trip and faces an uninspiring field.
In the first leg of the Pick 6 Missouri has his second run after a layoff and gelding and runs off an attractive mark of 73 considering he finished just five lengths behind Monk’s Hood in the Dingaans last year. He should have benefitted from that last run and will appreciate the step up in trip so van reverse form with Nephrite. The latter has to be included as he showed a good turn of foot in that aforementioned 1400m contest and is now back to the merit rating of his last win, which was over this trip.However, he did not run so well on Saturday so the tip for second is Proud Dynasty who looks sure to enjoy the step down in trip having not found extra over 2000m and 2200m in his last two and now being four points lower in the merit ratings. Those three will have to be enough for the Pick 6 as the harder races later on will need a wider selection.
In the first leg of the Jackpot over 1600m Mr Cuddles is an improving sort and although his best race was over 2000m he went close over 1700m before that and faces an uninspiring field here. Brave Detailled over 1700m in his penultimate start and held on for second so also has a shout with known good judge of pace Piere Strydom up. Colonel Caramel has never earned a cheque in thirteen starts but did actually catch the eye staying on in a recent 1700m event and it is interesting to see Muzi Yeni staying aboard having ridden him last time. Others who can be included in the Pick 6 in a race which could produce an upset are Chief Blackhorse, Blanco and the joker in the pack, Captain’s Alpha, who has some good recent form over sprints and now tries further again despite having failed when stepped up to 1400m before.
In the next race over 1000m the strapping Royal Cavalier is a well regarded horse and is progressive so is the one to beat having gone close last time out over this trip in an Assessment Plate. The only other one who is suggested for the Pick 6 is Seventh Son as he goes well for Strydom and is only two points higher for his win last time over 1200m.
The seventh race is a tough MR 90 handicap over 1400m where a case can be made for just about every horse and it is suggested the whole field should be included. The tip to win is Big Mistake as he beat Flying Winger the last time he went over this sort of trip and the latter then came out and won again, so the other option is to banker him. However, he did receive a five point raise for that win so it would be risky.
In the eighth race over 1400m Zulu Dawn is the one to beat. She is a courageous front-running sort and is only two points higher than her last win, where she beat I Like it over 1450m. The latter went on to only just fail in the Grade 3 Fillies Mile. Pale Lilac is the other one to include as she has shown some class before and has first time blinkers on over a trip which is on the sharp side.
The last leg of the Pick 6 is another tricky 1400m fillies and mares handicap. Wine Festival is a possible banker but beyond her it is wide open. She hails from Cape Town from where horses often arrive at other centres with suppressed merit ratings due to the class of horse down there and she duly won her first two starts on the Highveld, which were both over 1600m. She has only been raised a total of five points so can defy the handicapper again over a trip she is effective over. Gold Dawn has always struck as one who can progress as she gets older and is capable of a strong finish so she has to be included despite getting a two point raise for her close second over 1200m last time. My Dream Chaser looks to be a sort with plenty of scope for improvement as a still immature looking horse. Ponchielli, Tricia and Sammi Moosa are others with form chances.
By David Thiselton
Punters to wait on Hawwaam
PUBLISHED: December 12, 2018
Everyone rightly expected Hawwaam to take on Vaughan Marshall’s One World and the other classic contenders but at the end of the day…
Hawwaam, Mike de Kock’s exciting Dingaans winner, is a 10-1 chance with Betting World for the Sun Met but punters should not back him unless and until his trainer reports him a runner because, as of now, he looks like being still in Gauteng when the historic Kenilworth race is run on January 26.
In an interview with Charl Pretorius’s Turf Talk, de Kock spoke of the present much stricter African Horse Sickness regulations which led, in part, to Soqrat and Ghaalla taking 27 hours to get to Cape Town and added: “Hawwaam would have been on the same float but his value and reputation are too high to have risked an arduous trip. Everyone rightly expected Hawwaam to take on Vaughan Marshall’s One World and the other classic contenders but at the end of the day we are the ones who have to travel and the risk is all ours.”
Present plans, according to Pretorious, are that the colt will run in Turffontein’s Tony Ruffel and Gauteng Guineas rather than the Met.
Rainbow Bridge was installed 3-1 favourite when Betting World opened its Met book on Monday but Do It Again has since been backed from 4-1 to 7-2. However the Sporting Post’s disclosure that Bernard Fayd’Herbe weighed in half a kilo overweight in last Saturday’s Green Point makes Rainbow Bridge’s performance even better than it looked. It is not that uncommon for a jockey to come back a little heavier than he weighed out – it is even possible for sweat-soaked colours to account for this – and the rule sallow for half a kilo. However this is the equivalent of half a length over a mile, and theoretically enough to make the difference between fourth and first for Rainbow Bridge.
By Michael Clower
Marshall bids for third successive Guineas
PUBLISHED: December 12, 2018
“He doesn’t have to be in front and actually I would prefer it if he got a lead,” says Marshall. “But he has done everything we have asked of him…
Vaughan Marshall is bidding for his third successive Cape Guineas on Saturday – and his sixth in all – but, unlike William Longsword in 2016 and Tap O’Noth 12 months ago, One World is both unbeaten and odds-on at 8-10.
Anton Marcus’s mount has earned a reputation for outbattling challengers. Remember Kasimir in the Matchem? And last time in the Concorde it was Chimichuri Run. He also seems to have a fondness for leading from some way out.
“He doesn’t have to be in front and actually I would prefer it if he got a lead,” says Marshall. “But he has done everything we have asked of him. I have been very happy with him and I think he has come on from that last run. The horse is fit and we have Anton up so half the battle is won. We just need a bit of luck, and that is a big thing in this game.”
Chimichuri Run (best-priced 11-2) has only half a length to find on Concorde Cup running when he came at One World as if he was going to beat him. S’Manga Khumalo reckoned that the mile just got to his mount.
“It may have because he did challenge quite early,” agrees Sean Tarry who looks like adopting more patient tactics on Saturday. “He doesn’t need to be used as he was but it was his first go at the trip. The fact that he has now run the mile should help his stamina.”
Tarry, champion trainer in three of the last four seasons, has yet to win the Cape Guineas but it can only be a matter of when and he has a second strong contender in 8-1 chance Cirillo who ran out an emphatic winner of the 1 400m CTS Ready To Run. Champion Lyle Hewitson, who rode the colt in the Cape Classic previously, is in the irons.
“He is a top horse,” enthuses his trainer who would not be drawn into comparing him with Chimichuri Run (“not at this stage”). “I am not certain that he will actually be better over the extra furlong but he will certainly get the mile.”
Mike de Kock had been expected to run his runaway Dingaans winner Hawwaam who would have challenged One World for favouritism but instead relies on Soqrat in his bid to win a fifth Cape Guineas. The Premiers Champion winner was to have run in the Dingaans but was ruled out with a temperature.
Matthew de Kock reports that it only sidelined him for two days (“We didn’t feel that it was necessary to take a chance as we also had Hawwaam in the race”) and adds: “He has seen the course and is doing very well.”
Indeed he looked good when galloping at Kenilworth last Saturday and is only rated 1.5kg behind One World.
De Kock has won the Cape Fillies Guineas three times. What are the chances of last month’s Fillies Mile winner Ghaalla making it four?“That was her first time at a mile and she was crying out for the distance,”says Matthew. “She has a wide draw (12) so we are going to need a bit of luck but she will be very competitive.”
By Michael Clower