Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Somewhat ironic are the words that spring to mind with the possibility that former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste could win June’s famous Epsom Derby — a race sponsored by Investec.

The business grapevine has it that Investec lost heavily with the collapse of Steinhoff shares.

Jooste is a quarter share-holder — the others are Susan Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor — in three-year-old Rostropovich, a 1.1-million guineas yearling, who put his hat firmly in the Derby ring with a three lengths win at Chester last week. Immediate reaction from UK bookies was to introduce Rostropovich into the Derby betting at 16-1.

Aidan O’Brien trains Rostropovich and also recent 2,000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior, who is hot favourite at 4-5 for the Epsom race on June 2.

After the Chester race, O’Brien left the door open for Rostropovich to be on the shortlist of his Derby team. For Jooste to be allowed into the John Magnier partnerships is a huge fillip for SA’s leading owner as the Irish magnate annually invests millions of euros at bloodstock sales worldwide.

On the local racing front, Saturday’s big race, the R500,000 World Sports Betting 1,900 at Greyville, could be informative as far as the Vodacom Durban July is concerned.

With the sponsors making the favourite Pack Leader a 4-1 chance, it is an open contest, although Cape-based trainer Dean Kannemeyer will fancy his chances of taking the R312,500 first cheque with one of his runners It’s My Turn or The Slade.

Keagan De Melo, who has been in good form this season, has been booked for It’s My Turn and the four-year-old’s July odds are likely to be trimmed if he finishes in the first three.

Nevertheless, it is stablemate The Slade, fourth on his most recent outing, who might spring a surprise, and he has been the subject of ante-post support with his price cut to 7-1. Warren Kennedy has been engaged for the ride.

Champion trainer Sean Tarry will have been relieved that Matador Man got back on the winning trail at Turffontein in April. The gelding is second favourite at 5-1 for Saturday’s race.

Lyle Hewitson, the success story of the 2017-18 campaign, will be in the irons on Matador Man and is sure to get the best out of his mount. The one question is whether the Tarry inmate, a winner over 1,600m last time out, truly stays 1,900m or is better over shorter runs.

Pack Leader, trained by Glen Kotzen and the mount of Richard Fourie, deserves his position as favourite as he has the best form of all the runners. He is another of the strong Cape contingent, with Dark Moon Rising (Craig Zackey) the sole hometown representative.

Bernard Fayd’Herbe rides Elusive Silva for this season’s leading trainer Justin Snaith, yet he is easy to back at 11-1, which suggests he may have to settle for a minor placing.