The Gauteng spring season culminates this Saturday with the province’s most prestigious thoroughbred horserace, the R2 million Grade 1 Sansui Summer Cup to be run over ten furlongs at Turffontein racecourse. A maximum field of 20 runners has been assembled for the competitive handicap and home based trainer’s Alec Laird and Geoff Woodruff saddle nine of the entrants between them. Of course, the latter conditioner only failed by a head to complete the quartet in this contest, exactly one year ago. The preview below is by Winning Form, and the latest betting is proudly sponsor by South Africa’s leading bookmaker, HOLLYWOODBETS.NET.
Alec Laird’s quartet headed by AS YOU LIKE
The top selection is the four-year old son of Tiger Ridge AS YOU LIKE who ended his three-year old campaign in fine fashion with a workmanlike effort behind the ‘people’s champion’ and Triple Crown victor, LOUIS THE KING in the SA Derby over 2450m. He was beaten just one length into 2nd on that occasion and now meets his conqueror on a whopping 5kgs better weight terms. He was clearly unsuited to Greyville in his subsequent effort and probably needed his comeback run after the rest, and gelding, more than his nemesis. His wily conditioner has shrewdly kept his rating as low as possible, after that Derby effort, and the bay gelding will certainly strip much fitter today. His regular pilot Marthinus Mienie knows him really well and the Laird inmate jumps from a handy draw with a galloping mass of 54kgs. He runs his best races handy so will love the likely strong gallop and does represent excellent each/way value, if reproducing his best effort.
The latter is the stable’s form runner and he comes here in search of a hat-trick of wins. He wasn’t impressive when winning his seasonal debut at graduation level but made the necessary improvement to keep going well and win the Grade 2 Charity Mile, four weeks ago. That effort earned him a three pound penalty but he will be cherry-ripe on his third run after the layoff and has lots more improvement to come. However, the ten furlongs is a definite concern for the son of Bezrin who moved up well before tiring in the closing stages of the SA Classic (nine furlongs) behind the above trio in late March.
The last of the Alec Laird quartet is EARL OF DERBY who is a revelation in soft underfoot conditions. He proved that once more when he finished strongly for 2nd in the Grade 2 Victory Moon Stakes over nine furlongs on this track, two weeks ago. He was raised four pounds by the handicapper, is drawn wide and collateral form of the Derby, makes his task a rather difficult one. He was a further 3.50 lengths adrift of the top selection in the SA Derby and now meets that rival on similar weight terms. There is little to suggest that he can turn things around today.
Trainer Geoff Woodruff had a slow start to this campaign but has quickly made up for lost time and the yard has been in good form in recent weeks. The current favourite, LOUIS THE KING heads up the Woodruff onslaught and he was impressive in his prep run in the Charity Mile, recently. He certainly put his July disappointment behind him and despite being drawn poorly, he finished strongly over the mile on this track and was beaten just three parts of a length by BEZANOVA. The pair meet on similar weight terms but there isn’t any doubt that ‘the champ’ will prefer the ten furlongs and he will strip fitter. Admittedly, he has work to do at the weights with some of his fellow four-year olds but his last effort with a big mass showed his class and he loves this galloping track. He gets man-of-the-moment Piere Strydom (fresh from securing 5000 career wins) in the saddle once again and should make his supporters proud.
RAKE’S CHESTNUT twice beat his more fancied stablemate in the Daily News 2000 and the July at Greyville during the winter but an unfortunate last effort has made him the forgotten horse of this contest. He dislodged his jockey Anton Marcus shortly after the start in the Charity Mile and was obviously badly in need of his comeback performance, prior to that. His conditioner tried to give him one final go before this event but sadly that racemeeting was abandoned, a few weeks ago. Of course, his performance behind Legislate in the Daily News 2000 is the highlight of his career and the son of Horse Chestnut should be taken seriously. He gets big race jockey S’manga Khumalo in the irons for the first time and has his third run after the rest. The obvious worry is whether he will produce the same theatrics at the start.
His stablemate’s, MASTER SABINA and LOCKHEED JETSTAR, have no such issues and both runners have come through their respective preps well. The former didn’t beat much but was impressive when he thrashed his pinnacle stakes field by four lengths over nine furlongs on this track, five weeks ago, and he will be fitter today. He was rather unfortunate when he went down a neck to Yorker in this race a year ago after racing wide, and he has come right back to his best since being gelded. Gavin Lerena has a good record on the son of Jet Master and he is a lively contender in this field.
KILLUA CASTLE is the least fancied of the Woodruff fiver and rightly so after a poor last attempt in the Victory Moon Stakes over nine furlongs, albeit in treacherous conditions. Whilst he doesn’t lack the class to compete at this level, this ten furlong trip may just be beyond him as he showed when he tired late into a decent 5th in this contest, a year ago. He won last season’s Jubilee Handicap over nine furlongs on this track but a likely strong gallop and his wide barrier could leave him with plenty of work to do in the home straight.
Big mass is enough to WORRY about
The KZN challenger NO WORRIES has firmly got his career back on track since the winter and he has improved with each of his two Highveld performances this season. He kept going well to win the Spring Challenge over 1450m in his penultimate effort and then produced an excellent last run in the Charity Mile. The son of Kahal overcame his shocking draw quite well and he fought on doggedly before going down a neck into 2nd. That impressive effort earned him an unwanted two pound penalty which means he concedes weight to all of his nineteen rivals. This trip is no issue for the five-year old chestnut who was touched off in a Grade 1 over this distance at 3. His good draw is an obvious plus this time around but the weight burden could certainly tell in the closing stages and he will have his work cut-out to reproduce that last run.
The other Grade 1 FLAG bearer
Other than the favourite, Louis The King and the filly, ATHINA, the Cape visitor WAVIN’ FLAG is the only other Grade 1 winner in this contest. He is a most intriguing entrant as he hasn’t raced for 18 weeks since his finest hour when winning the Grade 1 eLAN Property Gold Cup over 3200m at Greyville. This is his first experience on the Highveld and although he has been here for quite some time and would have acclimatized well, the lack of a prep run makes his task of reaching the frame extremely difficult, even though he will love this galloping circuit. A somewhat strange entry!
The four-year old filly, ATHINA won last season’s Grade 1 SA Fillies Classic over nine furlongs on this course and she then went close in a subsequent Grade 1 over this distance at Greyville. She has lots of class about her and her prep runs have been pleasing, albeit she was a tad disappointing when only managing 3rd last time out. The Joey Soma trained daughter of Fort Wood has been thrown into the deep-end against male rivals from a poor draw today but she gets big race jockey Anthony Delpech once more in the irons and she will be cherry-ripe on her third run after a layoff.
JET BELLE is a classy mare and she has enjoyed some fine moments on this track. She was beaten just two lengths in the Oaks of 2013 behind Triple Tiara winner, Cherry On The Top and has proven to be extremely versatile since. She has won graded contests over six and ten furlongs respectively, and was impressive when winning a pinnacle stakes event over 1160m on her seasonal debut against male rivals, two weeks ago. The daughter of Jet Master will strip fitter and although she stays ten furlongs easily, this sudden rise in trip may be too much for her to handle in such a short space of time. She is also drawn badly at barrier 15.
Her stable companion SOVEREIGN MINT completed an impressive four-timer before his fair last run in the Charity Mile. He was given every chance but may have just lacked the class to compete at the higher level. Nevertheless, he deserves his place in this event but a wide draw, and the fact that his pedigree does little to convince that he will handle the ten furlongs, are definite concerns.
Up in class but distance suited
JUDICIAL has certainly improved since being trounced in the Derby and he meets LOUIS THE KING on 4kgs better weight terms for that 7.25 lengths defeat. He completed a fine hat-trick with an impressive Victory Moon Stakes win over nine furlongs in heavy conditions here, two weeks ago. It is hard to imagine that he would have recovered from that draining effort in a fortnight but he stays well and his conditioner usually gets them spot-on for the big events. Unfortunately, he has to do things from a wide draw.
The Cape raider DISCO AL is a most interesting entrant and his outstanding record over this distance suggests that he isn’t one to take lightly. He may lack the class to compete at this level but the recent Grade 3 Algoa Cup winner in PE has drawn well in pole position and he has his third run after the layoff. Having said that, he was soundly trounced by MASTER SABINA over 2200m on July day at Greyville.
BOLD INSPIRATION has won 6 of his 8 career outings, suggesting that he is a very classy sort. He began his career on the Highveld and came unstuck in The Dingaans when reportedly not striding out on this day, exactly one year ago. He has been a revelation for his new yard since being gelded and is unbeaten from four runs, albeit against lesser in KZN. The son of Horse Chestnut has certainly come into his own as a four-year old, after the cut, but he made heavy weather of beating ordinary rivals in a listed event over 1900m, five weeks ago and was rather harshly penalized four pounds for the win. He won his only start over this distance and his record this year is flawless. This is his toughest test to date and he will have to run the race of his life.
Trainer St John Gray is represented by the six-year old GLORIOUS JET and the likely pacesetter EVEREST. The former is distance suited and his prep for this event has gone well but he is below Grade 1 company as his eleven lengths finish in this contest last year proved. He has a wide barrier to overcome but is 1.5kgs better off with his stablemate for a three parts of a length beating in the Victory Moon Stakes.
Having said that, the latter is just four years old and still has lots more scope for improvement. The grey gelding did show some improvement after he set a brisk gallop on sticky ground last time but has hardly shown the form to win this Grade 1 event. The services of in-form jockey Muzi Yeni will help though, and with HOLLYWOODBETS.NET paying 6 fixed odds places on this contest, the son of Sarge could be worth a dabble at 4/1.
Red-hot Tarry’s lone hand
After an excellent start to this season, it is incredible that trainer Sean Tarry has just the solitary entrant in this R2 million contest. He saddles the four-year old filly ENCHANTED SILK who is 1.5kgs under sufferance and her 55/1 odds tells the full story. That said, she was extremely gutsy, albeit naïve when running all over the show but still managing to beat much lesser male rivals over nine furlongs on this track, two weeks ago. She has certainly improved since the turn of the year and has her third run after the layoff but this could be a bridge too far for the daughter of Kahal.
About the pace
The gallop should be a strong one with EVEREST, NO WORRIES, AS YOU LIKE and BOLD INSPIRATION expected to be right up there. The public can rest assured that Strydom won’t give the favourite, LOUIS THE KING too much to do in the home straight and the ‘people’s champ’ will certainly be closing in fast over the final furlong. However, we expect AS YOU LIKE to sit handy and take full advantage of the solid gallop and to hold off Louis, in the run to the wire.
22/10 – LOUIS THE KING
76/10 – LOCKHEED JETSTAR
83/10 - RAKE’S CHESTNUT
83/10 - RAKE’S CHESTNUT
9/1 – BEZANOVA, NO WORRIES, AS YOU LIKE
11/1 – BOUCLETTE TOP
15/1 – BOLD INSPIRATION
22/1 – ATHINA
25/1 – SOVEREIGN MINT, JUDICIAL
35/1 – WAVIN’ FLAG
40/1 – EVEREST, DISCO AL
45/1 – EARL OF DERBY, JET BELLE, GLORIOUS JET
55/1 – ENCHANTED SILK
71/1 – KILLUA CASTLE
SCRATCHED – MASTER SABINA
HOLLYWOODBETS.NET will be offering 4 and 6 place FIXED ODDS betting.
IT’S YOUR CHOICE!