Paul Peter has been the success story of the first six months of the 2017-18 season and it could get even better for the Vaal-based trainer if his top horse, Majestic Mambo, keeps winning.
Peter, in sixth place in the national trainers log, is almost spoilt for choice for his unbeaten three-year-old with his next start the Gauteng Guineas followed by the SA Classic and then either the SA Derby or R4m President’s Champion Challenge at Turffontein on May 5.
Majestic Mambo’s name is among the first entries for the President’s Challenge with his talented stablemate, Fort Ember. If Majestic Mambo were to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown he would surely go for the Derby. But Peter, whose runners have earned more than R5m this term, will be well aware that the Challenge carries prize money of only R1m less than the Sun Met.
In early betting with Worldsportsbetting, Majestic Mambo is 5-2 favourite for the Gauteng Guineas followed by Surcharge at 7-2 and trainer Alistair Gordon’s exciting three-year-old Monks Hood on offer at 11-2. Champion trainer Sean Tarry has nominated four horses for the President’s Challenge — his star performer Legal Eagle, evergreen French Navy, Sansui Summer Cup hero Liege and the filly Safe Harbour.
Legal Eagle, who had to settle for a minor placing behind Oh Susanna in the Sun Met, won the President’s Challenge in 2016 and went down to Deo Juvente in a three-way photo-finish in 2017.
The Greys Inn gelding will follow the same route as 2017, first contesting the 1,600m HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes. Tarry produced Liege in tip-top trim to win the Summer Cup and — if the five-year-old turns up in the same form on May 5 — the gelding could well bag another rich prize.
The best days of Liege’s stablemate French Navy may be behind him, but Tarry clearly still has faith in the horse who has played his part in his championship wins. Although Nother Russia ran unplaced for the first time in her career in the Met, the Mike de Kock stable rate the filly highly and have entered her for the President’s Challenge.
Another female, Tarry’s Safe Harbour, ran a creditable seventh in the Met, finishing two lengths in front of 10th-placed, Nother Russia.
Mike and Adam Azzie — in ninth position in the national trainers log — made the decision not to send 2016 Triple Crown victor Abashiri for the Cape season. Clearly they have their eyes on the President’s Challenge and his build-up runs will be closely monitored by form pundits.
The fare can only be described as moderate at Turffontein on Saturday although the top stables of De Kock and Tarry are represented in the seventh race, the main event on the card.
Tarry saddles the progressive Social Order and has booked Gavin Lerena to partner his runner for the first time, so a bold effort is expected.
The De Kock yard will send two runners, Fareeq and Secret Captain, with top jockey Anthony Delpech riding the latter. However, the grey is not necessarily the stable elect as Fareeq, the mount of Muzi Yeni, finished second over 1,600m last time out.
Stuart Pettigrew and jockey Piere Strydom will be looking forward to the Gauteng Guineas with talented three-year-old Surcharge, and the stable’s runner in this race, King’s Archer, will have his supporters.
Michael and Adam Azzie are represented by Arctica, who has joint top-weight of 60kg with Social Order. Tarry’s charge makes most appeal of this duo. Pearl of Bahrain (sixth race) and the Tarry inmate, Jika, are two more promising rides for Delpech, who is 27 winners ahead of Lyle Hewitson in the race for this season’s jockeys title.