The progressive St Vladimir can give Brett Crawford and Corne Orffer their first Winter Derby successes at Kenilworth tomorrow.
The Fort Wood colt won the East Cape Derby in convincing style and could well be going into this as the winner of five races on the bounce had he not been badly hampered when starting favourite at Durbanville.
The two concerns are his rating and the ground. He is officially 5kg inferior to Majestic Mozart and 4.5kg behind Herodotus who have both raced in better company. It was good to soft here on Tuesday and 3mm of rain was forecast for last night and today. The selection’s only run on anything softer than good was last August when he finished halfway down the field on yielding going – but it was his debut.
He was second favourite yesterday at around 3-1 with Majestic Mozart heading the market at 28-10. The latter is ridden by Bernard Fayd’Herbe who has won two of the last four runnings of this race while the favourite has won three of the last four.
Justin Snaith has won the last three – with horses of the calibre of Elusive Silver, African Night Sky and Doublemint. Nexus (11-2) has not been further than a mile yet the stable had no hesitation about nominating him for this race after his win 11 days ago.
Herodotus (33-10) was third in the Cape Derby and, as the betting suggests, is quite close with Majestic Mozart. Retro Effect is the only one of the 11 runners to have won on ground softer than good but he is rated 10kg behind the selection. At 16-1, though, he might be worth considering for a place.
Helen’s Ideal looks good to complete the fillies’ winter series in the Winter Oaks and is an understandable 17-10 favourite. She carries plenty of stable confidence with Paul Reeves reporting: “I don’t think I could have her any better and I don’t have a problem with the trip – she is bred for it, and in any case I don’t think they are going to go that fast because none of the others has been this far before.”
Star Fighter is the obvious danger at 22-10 as she was only a neck behind in the Stormsvlei Mile but Silver Operator stands out in the Langerman and he is one for whom there are no going concerns. It was yielding when he made that immensely impressive debut over the 1 400m trip three weeks ago.
By Michael Clower