Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

South African sports fans are used to Springbok or Proteas teams being dominated by players from one province, but it is a rarity in a horse race.

That will change at Greyville on Saturday, with nine of the 13 runners in the World Sports Betting 1,900m hailing from the Cape. This season’s leading trainer, Justin Snaith, leads the Cape charge with four entrants in the grade2 race: Strathdon, Elusive Silva, Captain Splendid and Platinum Prince.

Strathdon, winner of his last three races, including the Cape Summer Stayers on Sun Met day, could go well if he does not find the trip too sharp, though it is his stablemate Elusive Silva who is quoted at a shorter price (10-1) by the sponsors.

Unfortunately, Bernard Fayd’Herbe’s mount has drawn the widest barrier, which is a concern for the horse’s backers, though his pilot has been in this position many times before and overcome the disadvantage.

Elusive Silva, on offer at 33-1 for the Vodacom Durban July, will certainly shorten in the betting for the July 7 race with a forward showing on Saturday.

Despite Snaith having the most entries for the 1,900m race, it is two other Cape trainers, Glen Kotzen and Dean Kannemeyer, whom the sponsors feel hold the strongest hands.

Kotzen saddles the early favourite, Pack Leader, priced up at 33-10. This is a fair enough assessment as the four-year-old ran third in last season’s Investec Derby and has Richard Fourie in the irons, jumping from a favourable barrier.

Dean Kannemeyer runs It’s My Turn and The Slade and the former was the tip of many pundits to win the 2017 July. If he brings his best to the track It’s My Turn looks certain to go close, which is why he is only a 5-1 chance in ante-post betting.

At present It’s My Turn is a 28-1 chance for the July but — like Elusive Silva — those odds will shorten considerably with a top three finish on Saturday.

Two other Cape trainers with runners are Candice Bass-Robinson, who saddles Olivander, and Andre Nel, who has Kampala Campari doing duty for his stable.

The sole KwaZulu-Natal representative is Dark Moon Rising, who runs for trainer Paul Lafferty and rates an each-way chance on his best form and is quoted at 10-1 in early betting.

It is quite possible that one of two runners from Gauteng, Matador Man and Fort Ember, will spoil the party for the Cape contingent. The first-named is trained by ruling champion Sean Tarry, who has his team in hot form after a quiet period at the beginning of 2018.

Matador Man, bred at Scott Bros and a recent winner at Turffontein, had a spell in the wilderness before finding his form last time out. Whether Matador Man is better over shorter than 1,900m is unclear but his young rider, Lyle Hewitson, is this season’s biggest success story and — with Anthony Delpech and Gavin Lerena both sidelined — looks on course for a first jockeys championship.

The big-race plans of trainer Paul Peter have experienced a few hiccups in recent weeks and he made an interesting call to secure Piere Strydom to ride Fort Ember in Saturday’s race. Unfortunately, Strydom is also injured and Peter may have to search for a replacement rider on Saturday.

Fort Ember has a good draw. She jumps from gate three and, as she has run well at Greyville before, might well be the surprise factor in the race.