Crome Yellow could be the answer to a complicated-looking Settlers Trophy at Durbanville tomorrow. The Andre Nel-trained five-year-old has won his last two, is suited by the trip, was only raised 2kg for his last success and has one of the best jockeys in the business. His present 9-2 price looks attractive.
The obvious danger is early favourite Belgarion because he possesses a touch of class and just might be better than his present handicap mark. Third in the Politician in January, he was reported by his rider to have choked in the Cape Derby but he shrugged aside a seven month absence to score over a mile only three weeks ago.
The gelding was raised 4kg for that but he is favoured by many of the statistics – four-year-olds have won four of the last five runnings, Justin Snaith has won three of the last four and Richard Fourie is bidding for his fourth Settlers. As against that favourites have a shocking record – Magnificent Seven 12 months ago was the first to win for ten years.
However what has happened in the past may not prove quite so relevant this time because of the curious decision to chop two furlongs off the race’s traditional 2 400m. It’s not as if it had not been attracting enough runners – the field size averaged ten over the last five seasons and that is one more than tomorrow’s line-up.
The shorter trip is all against the Winter Derby winner Dharma (15-2) even though he has been laid out for this. He appeared to need 2 400m to bring out the best in him.
Elusive Silva, third in last year’s Durban July, has to give weight all round and no winner has carried more than 58kg since Just Like Al successfully shouldered 59kg nine years ago. Fellow Snaith-trained 9-1 shot Platinum Prince is 2kg better with Crome Yellow for nearly three lengths and it is worth noting that he lost a fair bit of ground at the start that day.
Gyre, though, could pose a real threat. The 17-2 shot was only beaten three-quarters of a length by the selection in that last race and – in theory at any rate – he should reverse the placings on a kilo and a half better terms. American Landing (6-1) was fifth of six that day but is weighted to get into the shake-up but Cape Derby third Herodotus (11-1) has been off for three months.
Computaform Sprint winner Pacific Trader is a warm favourite for the Interbet.co.za Pinnacle but this is his first race since and it won’t be easy to overcome an eight draw over such a short trip. Celestial Storm looks a better bet at 5-1.
By Michael Clower