The start of Champions Season is still over a month away but the Kings Cup heralds the dawn of three months of championship racing. So too do the hoards of Western Cape raiders that have been arriving by the float-load at Summerveld this past fortnight.
Justin Snaith sends out his first local runner with Platinum Prince lining up at Greyville on Sunday, but Highveld raider Sean Tarry appears to hold the best hand as he saddles Matador Man and Captain And Master who could prove the two to beat in a competitive handicap.
Matador Man is over what is arguably his best course and distance and can follow up in his Christmas Handicap win in spite of top weight. Prior to that he ran an inexplicably bad race behind Dark Moon Rising failing to quicken went popped the question by Anton Marcus.
He does however have to give lumps of weight to his rivals, including 2kg to stable companion Captain And Master. A close-up fourth in the Hawaii Stakes, Captain And Master was sent out a short-priced favourite over the Greyville 1400m last time out, but took time to get into stride by which time the handily weighted Tristful had flown the coop.
He stays the mile comfortably but one assumes that regular stable rider Lyle Hewitson will have had the pick of the rides in spite of Marcus’s presence on Captain And Master.
Platinum Prince is no stranger to Greyville, having run here four times, and he should strip close to peak fitness after two warm-ups at Kenilworth. Richard Fourie is up for the ride and the ever competitive Snaith will like nothing better than to start his KZN winter campaign on a winning note.
Dark Moon Rising was something of a controversial runner in last season’s Vodacom Durban July but Paul Lafferty will no doubt have his charge headed for another dip in the well come Saturday, July 6 and victory here will enhance the gelding’s chances of making the final 18-horse field.
A possible exotic bet banker could come in the form of the filly Flichity By Farr. Second in the SA Oaks and the Gold Vase last season, she has come back well since a break. Her recent win came over a trip many thought would be short of her best but she took full toll of her advantage in the weights.
She is again well weighted in another Pinnacle Stakes over 2200m and can put the boys to the sword again over what should be a more suitable trip. Byron Forster does duty for Andre Nel in KZN and his two charges Silver Rose and O’Keeffe will be threats. O’Keeffe has yet to finish out of the first two since stepping out on the poly but she jumps in trip here and is back on the turf. Stable rider Gareth Wright has elected to partner top weight who stays well but does come off a three-month break.
The Gold Circle Podcast Handicap looks a tricky affair although Ollivander has been battling the handicapper for all of his career and is due another win. He makes his local debut off some smart staying form in the Cape and has his first start for a new stable. He will have a big chance on his best form. The Sultans Bazaar has been consistent over sorter but may now be looking for this trip. He also looks well weighted and along with Paths Of Glory looks the biggest threat to Brett Crawford’s runner.
By Andrew Harrison