Like A Panther poised to strike for De Kock in Classic
With Surcharge once again saddled with a high draw, punters are favouring one of Mike de Kock’s five runners, Like A Panther, for Saturday’s R2m SA Classic at Turffontein.
"We’ve eased Surcharge from 2-1 to 5-2 as all the inquiries from our clients have been for Like A Panther.
"We now have him second favourite at 15-4," said bookmaker Lance Michael.
Also among the leading fancies is Majestic Mambo — who must bounce back from a disappointing performance in the Gauteng Guineas — with a 4-1 chance with Michael.
Like A Panther, the mount of Callan Murray, has the advantage of pole position and, despite not having had a recent race, looks the pick of De Kock’s quintet of runners. The other four are 5-1 shot Royal Crusade, Noble Secret, Pietro Mascagni and Alshibaa.
Trainer Stuart Pettigrew is understandably incensed that his talented three-year-old Surcharge has been drawn somewhere near the Rand Stadium.
Interviewed on his charge’s continued misfortune in draws, Pettigrew said: "When you’re drawn wide it can cost you three, four or possibly five lengths, it’s bad."
One redeeming factor is that Surcharge has top jockey Piere Strydom in the irons, but it will need all his expertise to take top honours in this highly competitive contest.
Majestic Mambo’s supporters stared in disbelief when the unbeaten Paul Peter inmate trailed in among the backmarkers in the Gauteng Guineas.
Peter told the Sporting Post: "Disappointment is not a strong enough word.
"We were devastated. But we have gone back to the drawing board and come up with a few rational observations."
Similar to the Pettigrew camp, Peter knows his runner will have a very talented pilot in the irons, with Majestic Mambo to be partnered by champion jockey Anthony Delpech.
Royal Crusade and Noble Secret give the De Kock stable good back-up as both have shown ability in their build-up races. The former will be ridden by Anton Marcus.
Greek Fire was another disappointment in the Guineas, with the R3m son of Dynasty finishing 10 lengths behind Monks Hood. With Bernard Fayd’Herbe booked for the ride, Greek Fire is probably the pick of the longer-priced runners.
Frank Robinson brings up Roy Had Enough from his KwaZulu-Natal stable and — well drawn at gate five — this four-time winner must be given a decent chance of earning a place cheque.
In the Fillies Classic, De Kock’s Gauteng Fillies Guineas winner Takingthepeace finds herself in the same boat as Surcharge with a shocking draw to overcome. In the circumstances, a safer option could be another of Delpech’s mounts, Silver Thursday, who is a stable companion of Takingthepeace. Another member of the Peter team, Folk Dance, heads the market at 33-10 with both Silver Thursday and Takingthepeace on offer at 4-1.
If Folk Dance arrives at the city track at the top of her game, she will be hard to peg back and has in-form Keagan de Melo in the saddle for the first time.
Bookmakers might be taking a chance quoting Alec Laird’s filly Green Top at 10-1 as she did finish in front of Folk Dance in the Guineas and again has a decent draw. Muzi Yeni’s mount makes plenty of appeal as an each-way wager.
Not so well drawn is the KwaZulu-Natal raider, Fiorella, who represents the stable of Duncan Howells. Marcus is booked for this R700,000 daughter of Captain Al.
Sean Tarry has four runners in the Fillies Classic, with Lyle Hewitson sticking with Fillies Guineas fifth Rockin Russian. However, there seems no reason why she should turn the tables on either Green Top or Folk Dance.
One of the highlights on Saturday’s 12-race card will be the grade one HF Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes, in which dual "Horse of the Year" Legal Eagle will bid to notch the 13th win of an illustrious career.
The six-year-old will start at cramped odds so the answer could be to take the swinger with the hat-trick-seeking Orchid Island.