Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

Champion trainer Justin Snaith has assembled an army of top jockeys for his assault on the country’s richest race — the R5m Sun Met — at Kenilworth on January 26.

The quartet of riders are:

• Richard Fourie, who has been in outstanding form this season and, having won the Queen’s Plate on Do It Again, retains the ride on the 2018 Vodacom Durban July winner.

•  Piere Strydom, who last won the Met in 2003, partners Doublemint, and the doyen of SA riders for many years is sure to get the best out of his mount.

•  S’manga Khumalo, who won the 2013 Durban July, has not had the best past 12 months. Lyle Hewitson is getting the plum rides for the Sean Tarry stable, but Snaith has faith in Khumalo and has secured his services for Made To Conquer, second in last season’s July.

•  Bernard Fayd’Herbe, who will be riding Oh Susanna. With Anton Marcus booked for Rainbow Bridge, Snaith stepped in quickly to book Fayd’Herbe — another jockey with huge experience — for his talented filly. He is in Dubai and may have to skip a few meals to make 57kg.

Snaith will be delighted that his two grade 1 wins on Queen’s Plate day have elevated him to 28th place in the TRC World Trainers Rankings. Mike de Kock is 25th, and the rankings are recognition of their talent.

A trainer who probably gets on better than any other with the media, Snaith also has a wicked sense of humour. When asked in one interview what his favourite food was, he replied: “Mike de Kock”.

Despite having to settle for fourth place in the Queen’s Plate, Legal Eagle will take his chance in the Met with Hewits on replacing Marcus, who will partner Rainbow Bridge.

Interviewed on Turftalk, Tarry commented: “Anton is not my stable jockey. He is not obliged to ride Legal Eagle and this provides a good opportunity for Lyle [Hewitson], who is riding very well right now.”

He added: “There are people who would have had their enthusiasm dampened by Legal Eagle’s run in the Queen’s Plate, but I’m not one of them.

“He was not himself on the day — he was flat. I saw that when saddling him and when he cantered down.”

Hewitson will ride five horses for Tarry at the Vaal on Tuesday with the pick of the quintet possibly four-year-old Colour Of Light, who takes on nine rivals in the fifth race. A daughter of Seventh Rock, Colour Of Light has dropped by three points in this race and this should benefit her as she comes up against a few speedy opponents, including Opera and Vine Street Star.

Gavin Lerena, who has been booked for Eyes Wide Open in the Met, partners Opera for Roy Magner, and this Oratorio filly looks the right one for the swinger with Colour Of Light. Tarry will be hoping Aurelia Cotta can notch an overdue second win when the four-year-old filly contests the seventh race over 1,400m. Strictly on merit ratings, trainer St John Gray looks to have found the right race for Ronnie’s Candy, but her below-par last effort is a cause for concern.

In the circumstances, the safer option to bet on could be Ormond Ferraris’s choicely bred filly Blossom.

Selections:

2nd Race: (1) Florida Quays (6) Royal Future (2) Targaryen Queen (5) Bel Canto Chorus

3rd Race: (18) Oceania (3) Rustling Leaf (4) Julep (1) Take My Word

4th Race: (4) Mojito Magic (3) Heavenly Risk (1) Scoop (2) State Trooper

5th Race: (8) Colour Of Light (3) Opera (1) Vine Street Star (7) Modjadji

6th Race: (6) Tarsus (1) Alpine Glacier (5) Sugoi (7) Pius Oil

7th Race: (8) Blossom (1) Aurelia Cotta (3) Ronnie’s Candy (7) Greener Pastures

8th Race: (1) Old Man Tyme (12) Street Flyer (7) The Tin Man (6) Lock Him Up

9th Race: (6) Make Your Move (1) Bold Coast (13) Manhattan Cocktail (12) Judd’s Rocket

10th Race: (14) Kick Butt (9) Jailhouse Jazz (16) My Dream Chaser (10) Pink