Can Crystal Ocean turn the tide on Enable at York meeting?
With Enable heading for Thursday’s Yorkshire Oaks, many pundits feel the big race of Wednesday’s opening day at York —the Juddmonte International — is at the mercy of the hot favourite Crystal Ocean.
However, it is interesting that UK experts Timeform are making a strong case for King Of Comedy to upstage the market leader in this grade 1 race (4.35pm SA time).
Timeform state in their assessment of the race: “Visitors to the Knavesmire will miss out on the rematch to the thrilling King George in which Crystal Ocean narrowly came off second best against Enable. The King George represents the best form and best time and a reproduction of either of Crystal Ocean’s last two efforts will see him very tough to beat.
“There are a number of challengers — including Japan and Lord Glitters — who boast better time figures than King Of Comedy, but, even so, it is John Gosden’s charge who is fancied to emerge as the main threat to the favourite.
“After winning the Heron Stakes at Sandown, King Of Comedy just failed to emulate his form and complete the hat-trick when second in the St James Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot last time.
“In the circumstances he did well to be beaten just a neck by the reopposing Circus Maximus. There is certainly scope for further progress after only five starts, with the extra two furlongs at York likely to prove well within his range.”
It is this column’s view that Mark Johnston’s runner, Elarqam, supplemented for £75,000, could be a lucrative swinger bet with Crystal Ocean. Johnston obviously feels his charge can hold his own in this exalted company.
Bookmakers 365 quote Enable as the 1.28 favourite for Thursday’s Yorkshire Oaks (4.35pm SA time) in which Gosden’s superstar filly renews rivalry with Aidan O’Brien’s runner, Magical.
At the moment it is 3-0 in favour of Enable, and UK racing website Sporting Life feels “the Magical team have to try something different, and a more aggressive ride could be one way of going about it”.
“Perhaps that will at least help her get in front of Enable as we get towards the home straight. We haven’t seen Magical head Enable, yet, but getting first run on her could offer the favourite a new challenge.
“The break since the Coral-Eclipse might well help Magical reverse the form, given Enable has had that famous King George dust-up with Crystal Ocean while the Ballydoyle filly had her feet up.”
Liberty Beach is the ruling favourite for Thursday’s Lowther Stakes (2.55pm SA time) and trainer John Quinn’s sprinter deserves his position at the top of the market.
Meanwhile, on the local racing front, Vodacom July winner Do It Again and Snaith Racing were again the big winners at the Cape Racing & Breeding awards held in Cape Town.
Do It Again, voted horse of the year at last week’s Equus awards, collected another three trophies: Cape horse of the year, champion older mare and champion miler.
Justin Snaith won the Cape champion trainer award and Snaith Racing took the exceptional achievement award.
Other winners were Sabine Plattner (wwner of the year) and Bryn Ressell who took home the award for Acknowledgement Of Achievement award.