Rainbow Bridge, 16-10 favourite with the sponsors for Saturday week’s World Sports Betting Champions Cup, has yet to be confirmed a runner and punters might want to hold their fire until a final decision is made.
Eric Sands said on Saturday: “He was off his manger for a couple of days after the Vodacom Durban July and, although he was trotting sound, he had a little bit of warmth in one joint.
“He is fine now but I am only going to run him in the Champions Cup if everything is 100%. He is only turning five, he is not an over-raced horse and we want to keep him going as long as possible. But by the same token it is a Grade 1 and we are not going to run away from it if we can go.”
If he does line up, Gavin Lerena will be first call – “I thought he rode a good race in the July and he settled the horse well but he may have other commitments.”
Sands, who sent out Jungle Warrior to win what was then known as the Champion Stakes at Greyville back in 1988, believes that Rainbow Bridge was adversely affected by the delay at the start in the July.
He is not claiming that his horse would have beaten Do It Again – “We were beaten fair and square but the second loading was a killer. He was sweating up before the first loading but he was bouncing and ready to go. I know that the reloading played against a lot of horses but Rainbow Bridge is not the type of horse to whom you can say ‘Come back and go in again.’”
There is also a Champions Cup question mark about 15-1 shot Head Honcho who was picked out along with Rainbow Bridge by commentator Craig Peters as sweating up badly at the delayed start.
Andre Nel said: “Head Honcho is not a highly strung horse but Keagan de Melo said the first time he was ready to go and the second time he was flat. We were all in the same boat so I am not making excuses and setting the horse alight 200m before turning for home was never part of the plan.”
Head Honcho, who was in the first two much of the way, dropped right out in the final furlong to finish with only four behind him casting doubts about whether he really got the trip. “He did win the Betting World 2200 the previous year but it is not his proper distance and it was a much weaker race,” Nel pointed out. “It seems as though he can gallop 1 800m almost flat out and then he tires.”
The Champions Cup trip would therefore seem ideal but Nel said: “We are debating whether to run. He was slightly jarred up after the July but nothing catastrophic. Possibly he could run but he is better in Cape Town and we might decide to wait for the Cape season.”
There has been relatively little movement in the Champions Cup market so far with the most noticeable being last year’s runner-up Undercover Agent (14-1 to 9-1) and second favourite Buffalo Bill Cody who has been cut from 3-1 to 22-10.
Lyle Hewitson, now almost unbackable to retain his championship – some bookmakers are quoting odds as short as 1-11 – gives Durbanville a miss tomorrow but Muzi Yeni is refusing to concede defeat and has taken five rides – two each for Joey Ramsden and Glen Kotzen and one for Glen Puller. However none of the quintet has a particularly obvious chance.
Run Fox Run, winner of all her four starts including most recently the Olympic Duel Stakes, is the highest rated of the 14 entries for the Champagne Stakes at Kenilworth on Saturday and is the only representative for Brett Crawford who won this 1 200m Grade 3 with Beach Goddess three years ago.
By Michael Clower