Give the man half a chance and he will take your whole hand. There were many hard luck stories back in the scrum as a slow pace marred the running of the Gr1 Daily News 2000 but for Anton Marcus it was manna from heaven as he nursed favourite Rabada through to win from It’s My Turn, Mambo Mime and Rocketball.
With none of the riders willing to commit it was left to Sylvester The Cat to pull himself to the front but once there, Craig Zackey put on the brakes.
Marcus had Rabada in the box seat while Anthony Delpech, looking for a hat-trick of feature wins, was forced to track wide to avoid the scrum on his inside and the two fancied runners joined battle at the top of the straight.
With Marcus dropping his stick at the entrance to the straight it looked as if It’s My Turn had his measure but Rabada kept finding to the
line. “I had my doubts about him staying,” said Marcus post-race. “But we were helped by the slow pace up front.”
“I dropped my stick at the top of the straight and was just flicking the reins at him. It was a really game win.”
“I always maintained that he was a good horse,” said Michael Azzie and Rabada has repaid that faith. It was also the second Grade 1 win for Rabada a son of Summerhill-based Brave Tin Soldier.
Earlier Justin Snaith would not be drawn on whether star filly Bela-Bela would take her place in the Vodacom Durban July after landing the odds in the Gr1 Woolavington 2000. It was an impressive performance by the grey who was given another professional ride by Delpech.
“I never had any doubt that she would stay,” said Snaith but neatly side-stepped the July issue. “She’s a very good filly and we will have to make the right decision. It will be up to the owners.”
“She saddled up very quietly, and I thought ‘Oh no! not another one,’” referring to the now retired Legislate. But she carried her temperament into the race. “She seemed half asleep in the race but there are few horses that have a turn of foot like she’s got,’ said Delpech.
The crack rider had Bela-Bela racing one off the rail with arch rival Nightingale on his inside. He kept Grant van Niekerk tight on the rail and got first run at the top of the straight. With Delpech’s stick flicking down her neck, Bela-Bela quickened past longtime leader Negroamaro who battled gamely to hold her advantage but she was swallowed by Nightingale and Heaps Of Fun who were both running on strongly.
Balance Sheet looks on track for the eLan Gold Cup with a game win in the Gr3 Lonsdale Stirrup Cup, getting home ahead of Helderberg Blue, No Worries and Crime Victim. Pressed on whether Balance Sheet would take his chances in the July, Dean Kannemeyer was hesitant. “Possibly, but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”
“The Gold Cup was the first time he went passed 2 400m last season and he ran second. I took him back to Cape Town but I wasn’t happy with the way he was moving and threw him out.”
“The owners were patient. Marsh (Shirtliff) and Bryn (Resssell), they ran first and second today and deserve all they get.”
It was another masterful ride from Delpech who got over from a wide draw to find the perfect place on the rail. “I can’t even tell how I got there. Sometimes things just work out for you.” He moved Balance Sheet smartly up the inside rail in the chase for home and rode the finish without the whip. “I rode with the hands. He wanted to hang out and I didn’t want to cause interference.”
But it was the early shift that possibly won him the race as he shifted onto a tiring pacemaker who in turn rolled onto Helderberg Blue who got unbalanced for a couple of strides.
No Worries appears to have taken a new lease on life since being put over ground and was fighting hard at the finish while Crime Victim found traffic and may well have finished closer.
The two Gr 1 events at Greyville tomorrow, the Daily News 2000 and the Woolavington 2000, will be significant Vodacom Durban July pointers as usual, while the Gr 3 Lonsdale Stirrup Cup will provide some clues for the eLan Gold Cup.
Rabada looks the horse to beat in an open looking Daily News, having stayed on from a handy position for a close second in the Canon Guineas, despite having to be used up early to overcome a wide draw and then lying handy in a fast paced race. His staying on sixth in the Politician Stakes over 1800m at Kenilworth when carrying a welter burden provided further evidence he would stay this trip.
It’s My Turn’s Investec Cape Derby victory has worked out exceptionally well and he would have benefitted from his Canon Guineas run in which he was outpaced early and then ran wide.
Samurai Blade has a tough draw but relaxes well in the running and looks a type who will continue to improve. He could get up late for a top three finish after producing a sustained finish from the back.
New Predator would likely be the first choice if there were no stamina doubts. He was sent for home at the top of the long straight of Turffontein in the Gr 1 weight for age HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes and was only just run out of the second spot, so he should get the 2000m here on an easier course and if ridden more conservatively.
Rocketball is drawn in pole and has to go into the equation after new hold up tactics did the trick in the SA Derby, where he stayed on strongly from the back and only just failed to spoil Abashiri’s SA Triple Crown party.
Celtic Captain is on the up having recently been gelded and being out of a mare who won over 2400m looks likely to relish the trip. He looked up at the TV when quickening well to hit the front in the Canon Guineas and a repeat is unlikely, so he is the dark horse from a good draw.
Brooklyn Brawler showed a fine turn of foot when winning easily last time over 1600m at Greyville and being by Dynasty should stay the trip. Prospect Strike ran a fine race in the Canon Guineas considering he used up so much energy out wide in the first half of the race.
Liege is an improving sort who should love the trip. Mambo Mime stayed on well for third in the Canon Guineas, but the question will be whether he will stay the trip, especially from a wide draw of 13.
Ten Gun Salute was doing good work late for fourth in the Canon Guineas and is a half-brother to a Gr 3 winner in Australia over 2500m, so should do well from a fair draw having enjoyed a good preparation.
Bankable Teddy could surprise if reproducing his easy Listed Derby Trial win over this trip. Trading Profit could earn if reproducing his 1800m run on Guineas day at Turffontein. Redcarpet Captain looks to have a stamina doubt, while Stebbins likely prefers further. Sylvester The Cat is talented but enigmatic and has a stamina doubt.
Rabada is selected to beat It’s My Turn with Samurai Blade, New Predator and Rocketball next best.
The Woolavington looks to be a boat race between Nightingale and Bela-Bela at first sight, but there are some up and coming sorts who could spoil the party. Nightingale is the selection as one who looks to be wanting this trip.
The classy Bela-Bela might be better over a touch shorter. Witchcraft should be staying all the way to the line and her last run in the SA Oaks when caught wide throughout can be ignored.
Negroamaro stayed on for third from a handy position in the Daisy Fillies Guineas and her second place in the SA Fillies Classic suggests she should get this trip. She could cause an upset from a plum draw. Flying Ice stayed on for fourth in the Daisy Fillies Guineas and should enjoy the 2000m.
Gauteng Fillies Guineas-winner Heaps Of Fun’s SA Classic run can be ignored as she pulled up with strained muscles, but there must still be a slight stamina doubt. Fortissima stayed on very well for second in the SA Oaks and Anton Marcus is a significant booking.
Adorada ran a cracker behind Gallica Rose and Deputy Ryder in the Scarlet Lady over 1750m, running on after being dropped out from a similarly wide draw.
Nightingale is tipped to beat Bela-Bela with Witchcraft, Negoroamaro and Fortissima next best.
Solar Star looks one of the best bets of the meeting in the Lonsdale, despite Anthony Delpech jumping ship to Balance Sheet. Solar Star has caught the eye this season in KZN and nearly won the Highland Night Cup last time over this trip despite over racing. The blinkers are now off and Stuart Randolph is up from a fair draw of eight.
Attenborough and Bishop’s Bounty dominate the Cape Of Good Hope Nursery at Kenilworth tomorrow and the former gets only marginal preference.
The Joey Ramsden-trained colt easily won the Somerset 1200 over this course and distance three weeks ago but Bishop’s Bounty, long held in high regard at Snaith Racing, was good enough to be expected to make a winning debut in the Met-day Listed race and, while things didn’t go his way that day, he has won his last two in the manner of a decent horse.
Bernard Fayd’Herbe’s mount is a full brother to Ramsden sprinting stars Red Ray and Brutal Force but Justin Snaith seemed to suggest that this one might want further, saying after he won last time: “Is he a sprinter? He doesn’t look like it and I don’t think he is. I feel he needs to go round the turn.”
Stable companion Sergeant Hardy was having his first run for more than three months when a five-length fourth to Attenborough in the Somerset and he was conceding 3kg. “He needed it that day, the race will have brought him on and he will be a little bit fitter this time,”says Jonathan Snaith. “But Bishop’s Bounty is definitely the stable select and his gallop last week was good. He went with Le Harve and did it quite a bit easier.”
Andrew Fortune rides newcomer Copper Force who is closely related to Computaform Sprint winner Copper Parade but Eric Sands says: “He is a nice horse but he has no experience under his belt and I think he wants further.”
The Mike Bass stable think a lot of Our Mate Art who was good enough to make a winning debut but he will need to have come on quite considerably to follow up here.
Snaith’s The Merry Widow is the obvious one in the Kenilworth Fillies Nursery as she is unbeaten in three starts and is 3k better with Live Life, Felicity, Nordic Breeze and Chill Baby Chill who all finished behind her in the Perfect Promise three weeks ago. To be fair, Nordic Breeze lost a lot of ground at the start and was hampered while Chill Baby Chill received a bump and was not striding out freely after that.
But Fayd’Herbe’s mount probably has most to fear from Don’t Stop Dancing who comfortably won first time over the trip last month.
> Michael Clower is on a roll – his last six selections have all won.
The two chief protagonists in the Gr 1 Woolavington 2000 at Greyville this Saturday, the Justin Snaith-trained Bela-Bela and the Mike Bass-trained Nightingale, are doing well ahead of the big race and so are Snaith’s two Gr 1 Daily News 2000 runners, It’s My Turn and Brooklyn Brawler.
Meanwhile, Snaith said the ruling Vodacom Durban July favourite Black Arthur, who is avoiding the Daily News and going straight into the big one, will have a gallop at Greyville before the first race on Saturday pending permission from the course manager.
Snaith said about his three Gr 1 runners for the Daily News meeting, “I couldn’t be happier with them, there have been no hiccups. It is now just down to luck in running.”
Snaith had been confident before Dynasty filly Bela-Bela’s Gr 2 Daisy Fillies Guineas victory three weeks ago, pointing out nothing had gone right for her when soundly beaten by Silver Mountain in the Gr 1 WSB Cape Fillies Guineas, and she had subsequently proven her class by running third in the “strongest form race of the Cape season”, the Gr 1 Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes. She had also been putting in phenomenal work at Summerveld.
Bass assistant trainer Robert Fayd’Herbe said, “Nightingale is fit and well and the jockey is confident.”
Jockey Grant van Niekerk seemed quietly confident, but was fully aware of the toughness of the task.
Nightingale lost a bit of momentum in the straight of the Daisy Fillies Guineas when having to be switched outward off the heels of a slowing horse. Bela-Bela did not have a clear passage herself, but her momentum was unaffected and she passed Nightingale with a wet sail. However, the latter was coming back at her at the line to be beaten only 0,5 lengths.
After the race jockey Anthony Delpech had his doubts about the 2200m July trip for Bela-Bela, but added she would “get away with” 2000m against her own gender in the Woolavington.
Nightingale has already proven her liking for 2000m when finishing strongly to beat older horses in a MR68 handicap for fillies and mares at Kenilworth on L’Ormarin’s Queen’s Plate day in January. She did not have a perfect preparation into the Daisy Fillies Guineas, due to her intended preparation race on the Greyville turf having to be switched to the polytrack, although she did still win the latter race. She will now be having her third run after a layoff.
Bela-Bela is having her second run after a layoff, but judging by her Daisy Fillies Guineas win that shouldn’t pose a problem and, like Nightingale, she should also be more forward this time.
Dynasty gelding It’s My Turn looked a bit outpaced early in the Canon Guineas and was then kept wide to avoid the kickback, so did quite well to stay on for a 4,65 length tenth.
“He’s not a miler,” confirmed Snaith.
The form of his Gr 1 Investec Cape Derby victory, which is run over the Daily News 2000m distance, is looking strong, considering he had both the July favourite and second favourite, Black Arthur and Marinaresco respectively, comfortably beaten. Delpech will be aboard on Saturday from a tricky draw of eleven and he is the horse to beat.
Brooklyn Brawler won well over 1600m at Greyville recently and has apprentice Lyle Hewitson up. On his damside he is closely related to the like of Capetown Noir, who always had a slight stamina doubt beyond a mile despite winning the Cape Derby. However, his July-winning sire Dynasty gives him hope. Snaith added, “Dynasty at Greyville is the key, just look at the record of both himself and his progeny there.”
The Bass yard also run Helderberg Blue in the Gr 3 Lonsdale Stirrup Cup over 2400m. He will be 1kg worse off with No Worries despite being beaten 1,5 lengths by him last time out over this trip at Scottsville. This will now be his third run after a layoff. He remains a quirky sort whose temperament is his own worst enemy, but as such could not have found himself in a better yard. The outstanding horsemanship of the Bass team have allowed the Jet Master gelding to still be competitive everytime he lines up and he is now down to a competitive merit rating.
By David Thiselton
Triple Crown-winning trainer Mike Azzie believes Rabada is the horse to beat in the Gr 1 Daily News 2000 at Greyville on Saturday.
He said, “All things have been going well, I am very happy with him and have no reason to believe he won’t stay.”
Jockey Anton Marcus was impressed by the Gr 1-winning Brave Tin Soldier colt’s last run in the Gr 2 Canon Guineas at Greyville, because after being taken to the front from a wide draw in a fast-paced race he was able to stay on and be beaten just a half-a-length, while the two in front of him faded out to the back.
Furthermore, Rabada stayed on well in the Gr 3 Cartier Politician Stakes over 1800m at Kenilworth on L’Ormarin’s Queen’s Plate day to finish a 2,25 length sixth with 62kg on his back. He was conceding 5kg to the winner Black Arthur and 6,5kg to third-placed Marinaresco, who are now respectively the top pair on the Vodacom Durban July betting boards.
Azzie added, “He was given a sympathetic ride in the Politician Stakes too, due to the weight and also his main mission was the Cape Derby.”
Rabada was unable to take his place in the Derby due to injury but proved his well-being when winning his comeback run over 1400m at Turffontein three weeks before his fine Canon Guineas effort. He is the joint 33/10 favourite for Saturday with Gr 2 IOS Drill Hall Stakes winner New Predator.
Azzie also runs the Toreador gelding Trading Profit, who is drawn well in three.
He was bought out of the Ormond Ferraris yard after downing the like of Judicial and French Navy when way out at the weights in a Pinnacle Stakes event over 1800m at Turffontein in February. However, he has run below par in two outing for his new yard in the SA Classic and Premier’s Champions Challenge respectively, and was headstrong in the latter race.
He is a good looking sort and has talent, but Azzie said, “He took a while to adjust and an improved run can be expected, but Rabada is superior to him.”
By David Thiselton