Sean Tarry sends a strong team to Turffontein on Saturday, including star colts Ikigai and Shango who top the boards for the Grade 1 SA Classic, although both of them have question marks hanging over their heads.
Vercingetorix colt Ikigai won both the Tony Ruffel over 1400m and the Gauteng Guineas in impressive style but there is a slight stamina question mark about him.
Tarry said, “He has shown what you would expect considering Vercingetorix is out of a National Assembly mare and there is speed close up in the female line too. However, we have adjusted his work program, he has settled into it nicely and I am a bit more upbeat about him staying the 1800m than I initially was.”
Shango is by the sprinter Captain Of All out of a Jet Master mare who won from 1200m to 1400m but he won the TAB/Betting World Dingaans going away and Tarry has no doubt whatsoever about him staying this 1800m trip.
However, he had to be scratched from the Gauteng Guineas after a minor setback which put him out of work for a three or four days.
Tarry said, “The interrupted preparation has cost him. That doesn’t mean he can’t win as he is classy, but he might prove to need it, the race will tell.”
Tarry would not want to swap this pair’s draws around. Ikigai tends to race handy and has landed a good draw of four, whereas the rangy Shango tends to come from off the pace and can be dropped out from a high draw of 12.
Tarry also runs outsider Rock The Globe and he said, “He flopped in the Cape Guineas but his mile form before that was good (third in the Grade 1 Premier’s Champion Stakes as a two-year-old) so we have given him the benefit of the doubt and will see how he goes.”
In the Grade 1 Wilgerbosdrift SA Fillies Classic Tarry said it had been “a tough pill to swallow” to have to scratch Victoria Paige as he had given her a big chance. Keep Smiling is now his only runner and he said, “She finished close in the Fillies Mile but when we stepped her up to 2000m she didn’t see it out, so we have taken the blinkers off to see whether that helps her settle better and then she can hopefully finish better.”
Tarry should have an early chance of landing a feature with Ecstatic Queen in the Listed The Citizen Ruffian Stakes over 1000m. This Gimmethegreenlight filly has some speed and a nice big action and was finishing strongly on debut when beaten just three-quarters of a length into third by Springs Of Carmel. She gets 3kg from the latter and 7kg from the unbeaten Miracle Flight. She has landed the plum Standside draw and has been working well.
In the Listed TAB Storm Bird Stakes over 1000m he also has a good chance with Querari filly Slalom Queen whom he rates as “very decent.” She showed good cruising speed on debut over 1000m, then quickened exceptionally well and also found extra when challenged. She won easing up by 2,25 lengths, but is now up against a seemingly exceptional colt in War Room, although she does receive 4,5kg.
Tarry also runs Willow Express in this race and didn’t want to believe his first start, where beaten 12,50 lengths, so has drawn a line through it and is giving him another chance. He said, “His work is good enough so we will find out.”
In the Grade 3 Acacia Handicap over 1600m he has four runners and said he felt Cordillera had the best profile considering her weight, draw and form. He pointed out Rockin Russian had bounced back to win well over 1400m last time and the form of that race had worked out exceptionally well. Aurelia Cotta and Saints Alive are also well. Tarry has been impressed with Johan Janse van Vuuren’s unbeaten filly Lady Of Steel and felt she was the one to beat.
In the Grade 2 Hawaii Stakes Tierro Del Fuego is course and distance suited and has won five of his last six runs but is up against some highly rated horses like Barahin and Buffalo Bill Cody, who, on the other hand, are returning from layoffs. This will be Tierro Del Fuego’s acid test.
Tarry’s Cirillo also has a high merit rating and he felt he would bounce back to form in the Hawaii. He said, “He has been haemoconcentrating and has had muscular problems but we are on top of it and I am much more upbeat about his chances this time.”
He also runs Matador Man in the Hawaii and said, “His comeback run was poor but he then showed good improvement in his second run. At his best he has a chance although he does unfortunately seem to reserve his best for Greyville.”
In the Listed Drum Star Handicap over 1800m he has two runners and said, “Silver God is in a good place and the distance should be no problem. His form is decent and he must have a shout. Lord Silverio has his first run after gelding and we hope he can get back to his potential. He might just need this first run after gelding but we expect a good showing.”
In the Listed Aquanaut Handicap Shenanigans also has his first run after gelding.
Tarry said, “He has a good pedigree so we held off but he wasn’t able to use himself properly behind. The gelding has had the desired effect and he is moving well. I would have preferred to bring him back over 1800m or 2000m but he is a nice stayer and should still make his presence felt.”
Tarry hoped to see his other runner here Wonderous Climber bouncing back after being off form but then showing “slight improvement” in his last start over 2000m.
By David Thiselton