The Pick 6 looks catchable at the Grade 1 L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate meeting on Saturday as the two Grade 1 events look to have potential bankers in Hawwaam and Front And Centre respectively.
The first leg of the Pick 6, the Design Indaba Pinnacle Stakes over 1000m, should be fought out by the Equus Champion Sprinter Kasimir and the Grade 1-winning 1000m specialist Pacific Trader. The latter beat Kasimir by two lengths in a similar event last season on 29 December, although he was receiving 1,5kg that time and now faces the latter at level weights. Pacific Trader went on to win the Grade 1 Computaform Sprint in Johannesburg. Pacific Trader has had one run this season, whereas Kasimir will be making his seasonal reappearance. Kasimir is all class and goes well fresh, so it will be close. The risk averse can include the classy Chimichuri Run. He would prefer a touch further, but the tough nature of this 1000m straight will suit him. However, on previous meetings he is held by both Kasimir and Pacific Trader. Bold Respect is also capable but is also held by the top two. Sir Frenchie will arrive fit with a number of runs under the belt and if the big horses falter in the final stages of this testing 1000m he could possibly pick up the pieces as he is capable of a flying finish.
In the Grade 2 Glorious Goodwood Peninsula Handicap over 1800m the classy Belgarion looks the one to beat. This horse caught the eye early in his career but ran a disappointing unplaced race in a below par Grade 1 Cape Derby field. He was laid off for the rest of the season and was gelded too. He has shown his class in his comeback this season, winning both of his starts over 1600m and 2000m respectively. He could well still be ahead of the handicapper. Charles was a similar type in that he was classy but disappointing as he needed gelding. In his two runs since gelding he has won over 1600m and then finished a decent 3,05 length fourth to the 127-rated One World when receiving just 1kg. However, he does have a tough draw to overcome. Eyes Wide Open is the third horse who must be included in the Pick 6 as he ran a close fourth in the Vodacom Durban July, despite being a touch unlucky, and effectively runs off the same mark. He has had one run this season and one run was all he needed before winning the Grade 2 WSB 1900 at Greyville carrying 60kg joint topweight. His trainer Glen Kotzen has been in flying form too.
Front And Centre has a plum draw of two in the Grade 1 Cartier Paddock Stakes. She is full of class and seems to have overcome the hanging antic which cost her the Grade 1 Woolavington 2000. She is officially the best weighted horse and looks to have improved this season, so with “Superman” Anton Marcus she is going to take a lot of beating over an ideal trip of 1800m.
In the big one, the L’Ormarin’s Queen’s Plate, Hawwaam faces his first true test. He has beaten those he has faced with consummate ease but has never before faced the best in the country. In normal circumstances he would be roundabout the same price as reigning champion Do It Again. However, he comes in off a good preparation whereas Do It Again has not had the perfect preparation. Nevertheless, some would consider it foolhardy to exclude Do It Again from the Pick 6 and they might well be right. Rainbow Bridge was beaten 3,05 lengths by Do It Again in last year’s race and beaten 1,75 lengths by him in the Rising Sun Gold Challenge, so he looks held over this trip. Vardy would be a better inclusion as he won the Green Point comfortably and is improving all the time. Soqrat was beaten just 0,30 lengths into second in last year’s LQP so is another one who some would view as a necessary inclusion.
The eighth race, the Grade 3 Heineken Chairman’s Cup over 3200m, is the hardest leg of the Pick 6. Cape Town staying races can be won by outsiders as the pace is usually a dawdle and some horses are still proving themselves over the trip, so could be ahead of the handicapper. Crome Yellow made an excellent recent staying race debut and is drawn well. The big PE raider Mangrove could represent good value. Doublemint went close in the Gold Cup off a mark which was effectively only two points lower than he’s on now. Those three make most appeal but including as many as possible would be the way to go.
The last leg over 1400m is a difficult handicap. Meraki flew home from a hopeless position last time out over this trip and now has a better draw so he is the tip to win. Justin Snaith has all of his runners primed for Queen’s Plate day so it would be wise to include all of Bayberry, Savvy, Rio Querari and Frank Lloyd Wright in that order. The Vaughan Marshall-trained three-year-old Path Of Choice has, like Bayberrey, sneaks into the handicap with the minimum weight so can also be included.
By David Thiselton