Picture: 123RF
Picture: 123RF

Undercover Agent, the three-year-old colt who lowered the colours of top filly Snowdance in last Saturday’s grade1 Gold Challenge at Greyville, has been raised a mammoth 14 points to a merit rating of 125.

The handicapping panel assessed that Undercover Agent had risen to the occasion to beat the top filly in the land over 1,600m, her best distance. The colt bred at Moutonshoek Stud is now the highest-rated male runner in SA.

African Night Sky, the Durban July favourite, was raised only four points for his victory in the grade3 Cup Trial, which left his trainer Justin Snaith relieved and saw owner Fred Crabbia’s runner shorten in the betting.

The four extra points mean that African Night Sky will only be penalised by an extra 2kg in the July field, a factor most pundits believe will make him hard to beat in the big race considering his already exposed talent.

Rival trainer Mike de Kock, whose July hopeful Yakeen also received four points for a win in the Jubilee Handicap at Turffontein, made his feelings about the handicappers clear on his website, calling them "clueless".

He argues there was a lot more merit in the win of African Night Sky when equated to his own runner and suggested that the handicappers yielded to pressure from the Snaith stable by rating the favourite far lower than his ability.

De Kock pointed to one of the official race conditions, which states: "Weights shall be framed by the handicapper in his sole discretion and without necessarily having regard for horses’ merit ratings."

He commented: "I say well done to Justin, I’d have done the same and my gripe isn’t with him. I have a problem with the handicappers who, as is clearly evident, do not watch racing!"

It will be interesting to see the rating allocated to Cirillo, who will be odds-on to win the first race over 1,160m at Turffontein on Thursday.

A maiden who has had narrow defeats in a graded and a listed feature, he is possibly the best horse in the land not to have won a race yet and is the best bet on the card at the city track.