Met now set for full gallop as more hopefuls stake claims
Good performances by Bela-Bela, Whisky Baron and It’s My Turn have seen all three Cape-trained horses shorten in the betting for SA’s richest race — the R5m Sun Met
After being dubbed a "two-horse affair", the complexion of the R5m Sun Met has now changed drastically, with a number of hopefuls throwing their hats into the ring.
Good performances by Bela-Bela, Whisky Baron and It’s My Turn have seen all three Cape-trained horses shorten in the betting for SA’s richest race to be run at Kenilworth on January 28. Bela-Bela, unplaced in last season’s Vodacom Durban July, won back many of her fans when capturing the grade1 Maine Chance Farms Paddock Stakes under a masterful ride
by Anton Marcus. Bookies clipped the grey’s odds to 6-1 for the Met.
Whisky Baron, an Aussie import trained by Brett Crawford, made it four wins in a row when taking the grade2 Peninsula Handicap and is now third favourite for the Met behind Legal Eagle and Marinaresco.
Another Snaith inmate, It’s My Turn, boosted his Met prospects with a good effort behind Whisky Baron and his odds were immediately clipped from 30-1 to 12-1.
Marcus won his sixth Queen’s Plate — his first success in the grade1 race was on Empress Club in 1993 — on Legal Eagle and Sean Tarry’s champion is now the firm 15-10 favourite for the Met.
His expected final 200m battle with Marinaresco, never materialised with Candice Bass-Robinson’s runner never able to get into a challenging position from an unfavourable draw.
After being as low as 18-10 with some bookmakers last week, Marinaresco’s odds have been pushed out to 33-10 and the jury is out on whether the four-year-old can turn the tables on Legal Eagle in the Met.
Certainly the extra distance will be in Marinaresco’s favour and Bass-Robinson will be keeping her fingers crossed that the gelding has better luck with the barrier draw.
Captain America earned his connections another decent cheque by filling the runner-up berth in the Queen’s Plate, but both The Conglomerate and Abashiri finished out of the money. The latter, winner of last season’s Gauteng Triple Crown, trailed in last.
Sunday’s Turffontein meeting was abandoned because of rain and — if Tuesday’s eight-race card at the Vaal gets the green light — the going is likely to be heavy. Gavin Lerena, who had a rare blank day at Kenilworth last Saturday, could notch a double on Burning Rock (fourth race) and Roquebrune in the final leg of the jackpot.
Burning Rock is trained by Geoff Woodruff and this daughter of Count Dubois is expected to step up on her unplaced debut run. Her chief rival may be Weihong Marwing’s mount, Love Tryst. Roquebrune takes a big drop in class in the seventh race and trainer Michael Azzie’s Var gelding may prove too smart for Joey Piper who returns from a 10-week break.
S’manga Khumalo rides Tiger’s Legacy in this 1,000m sprint and this recent course and distance winner could also have a say in the finish.
Yellow Metal, a half-sister to Heavy Metal, makes her debut in the first race and the market will be the best guide to the chance of Tarry’s newcomer.
Of those horses that have raced, any of Osculation, Casa De Var, Elegant Beauty or Aimee Sweet could come out on top in this maiden plate.