Van Niekerk has three chances of winning the Gauteng Guineas
Owner Chris van Niekerk will have a simple message to three jockeys before Saturday’s R1m Gauteng Guineas at Turffontein. “I'll be happy to be greeting any of you in the No 1 box.”
Van Niekerk, whose blue and red colours have been carried to two Durban July wins (Pomodoro 2012 and Heavy Metal 2013), has three runners in the grade 2 race — Shango (Gavin Lerena), Ikigai (Luke Ferraris) and Eden Roc (Raymond Danielson).
Ikigai, the 33-10 second favourite, makes the most appeal as there was so much to like about his four-lengths win in the Tony Ruffel Stakes at the beginning of January.
Luke Ferraris rode Ikigai in that race, but he was also in the irons for Shango’s latest win. Gavin Lerena won the Dingaans on the son of Captain Of All and bookies have his mount at the top of the betting boards at 28-10.
Though Eden Roc enjoyed an excellent first season, he has got to step up on some average performances this term to earn Van Niekerk the R580,000 first-prize check. The colt does have the advantage of pole position.
Champion trainer Sean Tarry will be aware his trio of runners face two tough rivals in Frosted Gold and four-time winner Youcanthurrylove.
New Zealand-bred Frosted Gold represents the powerful stable of Mike de Kock and lost ground at the start when finishing nearly three lengths behind Shango in the Dingaans. With a better start, the grey can pose a real threat to Ikigai and Shango.
Fabian Habib has made a bright start to his training career and his runner Youcanthurrylove has posted four wins in his past five outings.
What is impressive about the son of Gimmethegreenlight is that he has won his last two starts by four and three and a half lengths. He seems sure to go well in the hands of S'manga Khumalo, who has scored twice on the colt.
The supporting feature — the Wilgerbosdrift Fillies Guineas — may be fought out by Lerena on Mill Queen and Warren Kennedy on Summer Pudding.
It has already been a successful first six months of the season for trainer Paul Peter, but he will have had his eyes on this prize for some time and he sends out the unbeaten Silvano filly Summer Pudding.
A daughter of the talented Mauritzfontein mare Cherry On The Cake, this is her first real test and she faces a serious rival in Mill Queen. The filly is the best horse in the stable of David Nieuwenhuizen and is another good ride at the meeting for Lerena.
Early betting in the sixth race — the Tommy Hotspur Handicap — suggests the 1,000m sprint is a match between another Peter runner Fly Away and Lucky Houdalakis’s five-time winner Mr Flood.
Fly Away is a filly taking on the boys, but she stopped the clock at 55.4 sec at the Vaal and may have the speed to get away from Mr Flood.
Punters taking Pick Six bets should also include Khumalo’s mount Gimme A Wave. Alec Laird’s four-year-old is 4kg better off with Mr Flood this time and taking the swinger with Fly Away could prove a lucrative bet.
Whatever the fate of Mill Queen in the Fillies Guineas, trainer Nieuwenhuizen has a strong hand in the ninth race — the Allez France Stakes — in which he saddles Flichity By Farr and Factor Fifty. The latter could be another winner for the season’s leading rider Kennedy.
3rd Race: (1) Gin Fizz (3) Capitiana (5) Frosted Steel (4) Golden Belle
4th Race: (1) Owlinthetree (2) Diamond Dancer (6) Master And Man (4) Flash Burn
5th Race: (6) Captain Of Tortuga (1) Green Haze (2) Approach Control (10) D'Arrivee
6th Race: (10) Fly Away (2) Mr Flood (6) Gimme A Wave (1) Quinlan
7th Race: (3) Summer Pudding (1) Mill Queen (6) Magic School (9) Victoria Paige
8th Race: (4) Ikigai (1) Shango (3) Frosted Gold (6) Youcanthurrylove
9th Race: (4) Factor Fifty (1) Flichity By Farr (2) Chitengo (3) Bondiblu
10th Race: (3) Green Plains (2) Dancing Queen (1) Running Brave (6) Pool Party