“Punters, follow the Snaith team on Sun Met day. I think we have our horses right at the right time, and I think we are going to have a big one.”
Justin Snaith’s interview with Grant Knowles could be heard all over the grandstand at Kenilworth on Saturday and, whether by accident or design, the volume was turned up to maximum – even on the escalators – as the Met day maestro made his bold prediction for Saturday.
With a staggering R18 million Pick Six up for grabs many punters will be turning to Snaith for their first choice selections – and with good reason. Over the past eight years his average Met day winner haul is better than four and only once during that time has he sunk below three.
“If I had to pick a horse for the day I think Kasimir is a huge runner in the Cape Flying Championship,” he told this writer. “He needed his first run back but he is doing very well and the only one in the race that I’m worried about is Run Fox Run. She hasn’t beaten much [compared with Kasimir] and this is a bigger test for her but she is the unknown.”
For a long time the Met was Snaith’s bogey race and, while he finally won it with Oh Susanna two years ago, hot favourite Do It Again was beaten 12 months ago and his well-documented post-Queen’s Plate setback has threatened to make it go pear-shaped again.
What punters are openly doubting is whether the horse can turn it on in his dual Vodacom Durban July-winning style after having an interrupted preparation. “There hasn’t been much interruption,” says his trainer who believes some members of the media (including this one) have made too much of the horse being under the weather.
“I wouldn’t say under the weather either,” Snaith responds. “It’s just that he hasn’t been at his best. It was too long between his July win and his season starting. He had become a quiet horse – too much boring work up and down the tracks in heavy sand.
“Also that 20 minute delay at the start of the Queen’s Plate didn’t help with a horse who had not been doing as well as I’d hoped because he was already at the limit of his wellbeing. He has improved a lot since. I don’t want to say too much as to why at this stage because I feel that, with the changes I have made, he has to go and run well first for me to be able to say what might have been wrong – whether it was a slight biliary, whether it was a track issue or what. We have had problems in Philippi with the tracks, tractors breaking down etc.”
The extra two furlongs on Saturday will presumably suit him a lot better? “Without a doubt and, in any case, just look at the distance he was beaten in the Queen’s Plate (just over four lengths). It’s not like he ran ten lengths back. I’m only looking for a small bit of improvement.”
Lastly, does he still think 50-1 shot Bunker Hunt is the dark horse of the race, bearing in mind that Bernard Fayd’Herbe’s mount is rated between five and seven kilos inferior to the big guns? “That is against him, I agree, and probably it could cost him winning but I do think that not running on Queen’s Plate day is a huge advantage for him.”
By Michael Clower