No horse has ever covered the Durbanville 1 400m in a time faster than One World did at this meeting 12 months ago and the Vaughan Marshall colt may beat Undercover Agent in tomorrow’s Matchem Stakes.
On paper at least the race should be a straight fight between the pair because on adjusted ratings they are 4kg (worth three and a half lengths over this trip) better than anything else in the race.
Undercover Agent has been off for four months but he won first time out last season and he beat Rainbow Bridge in the Drill Hall after an absence of three months. He has an exceptional draw and the stable is on song.
But he has eased to 15-10 as the money has come for One World who had shortened from 5-2 to 14-10 favourite with some layers by yesterday morning. He has only been beaten twice in nine starts – third in the Cape Guineas and by Vardy in a Winter Classic that came at the end of a tough season – and he outstayed Kasimir when he won here a year ago.
The main negative is that the Matchem has so often proved disastrous for favourites – 11 of the last 14 have been beaten. But it’s rare for this race to go to a longshot – indeed Our Mate Art at 10-1 two years ago was the longest-priced winner since the turn of the century.
Search Party’s form figures – five consecutive noughts in front of his name – might not give encouragement for the Brett Crawford second string – but they don’t do justice to Donovan Dillon’s mount and the 33-1 shot is third best on adjusted ratings.
African Warrior had smart form last season and is a 15-2 chance but no three-year-old has won since Variety Club (good enough to win in Hong Kong and Dubai) eight years ago and he has the sort of draw that trainers have nightmares about.
Front And Centre is hard to oppose in the Diana even though this is her first race for three months. She is a Fillies Guineas winner and she is drawn on the fence. Maybe 7-10 slightly overstates her case but favourites have won four of the last six runnings.
Freedom Charter comes out only 2kg behind her on adjusted ratings but the Candice Bass-Robinson mare has not raced since May. Dynamic Diana (15-2) would be an appropriately-named winner and her trainer is bidding for his fourth win in this race.
Maybe, though, Helen’s Ideal (17-2) could pose the biggest threat to the favourite. She returns fresh after a working holiday by the sea and she is well drawn.
By Michael Clower